A Chicago remembrance of Reverend Horton Heat

by DGO Web Administrator

The Metro is a mid-sized, indie music hall in Chicago with a stage framed in dramatic, Victorian scrollwork. I can’t recall the first show I saw there, but I know I was 15 and two punk rockers, leather-clad and liberty-spiked, were ass-bare banging over the bathroom sink. It ain’t a dive, but it’s also not for the completely calm-hearted. It’s where I caught my first Reverend Horton Heat show, back in 2007. The venue made sense, considering the Rev is an edgy cat with vintage class.

Reverend Horton Heat (aka Jim Heath) bops out American tunes, from country and western to boogie woogie blues. The three-piece band led by Heath started out in 1985 as a search for authenticity. Instead of jiving with the pop industrial complex of the era, Heath stepped into the roots of American music. Some inspirations he found, like Roy Orbison, Little Richard, The Blasters, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash, are recognizable in his discog. Others, like the bluesman Professor Longhair, Cajun rock and swamp pop, and the standards of Ira and George Gershwin, are less visible, but apparent when you think of Heath’s lushly composed instrumental side. The man puts as much storytelling into a guitar lick, creating the sounds of rattling refrigerators, roaring hot rods, and train whistles, as he does his lyrics.

When I caught Reverend Horton Heat at the Metro, Murder By Death and The Tossers opened. It was a killer lineup, but the Rev’s always got great openers. Take for example that he’s currently on tour with Big Sandy (of the western swing band Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys) and, in previous years, I’ve seen him with openers like retro-rooted rock ’n’ roller J.D. McPherson and country crooner Wayne “The Train” Hancock.

Speaking of the Reverend Horton Heat show with J.D. McPherson, it was at the Aragon Ballroom, a dancehall built in the ’20s where the ceiling looks like a sky. Supposedly, there are tunnels that lead from the basement to the Green Mill, a nearby cocktail lounge formerly favored by Al Capone.

Here’s a few Reverend Horton Heat songs that remind me of that show:

“One Time for Me” This song. ::breathes heavy:: I don’t have a top ten ménage à moi songs list, but when I make one, this is the king winner tune of paddling the pink canoe.

“Wiggle Stick” Because Geezus H. Boning Christ, I am a horndog.

“Bad Reputation” Erotic rockabilly part three: Any song with the lyric, “You’re the kind of girl I’d like to eat,” especially one with hip-popping guitar, is one I’ll love.

I swear on the Stanley Brothers, not every Reverend Horton Heat song is fulla sexpot hot-assery. Apparently, I just gravitate toward the campy and pervtastic.

“Baddest of the Bad” When I need a good, ol’ fashioned break-up song, might as well be one where the guitars are so fast you can outrun the heartache.

What I’m getting at, Durango, is Reverend Horton Heat is coming to the Animas City Theatre and you’re gonna wanna be there.


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