As blessed as I’ve been with shows this year, Old Saint Nick has been particularly generous this Christmas!
On the first of December, Horton’s Holiday Hayride came to Atlanta! Not only did I witness the rollicking revelry that is Reverend Horton Heat (whom I’ve been listening to for years and always wanted to see live), but also the Blasters, Big Sandy, and Junior Brown!! My cup of spiced spiked cider runneth over…
First up were Los Angeles natives The Blasters known for their own brand of American Music, including influences from rockabilly, Americana, and punk whose hits “American Music” and “Marie Marie” rocked the ’80s and continue to revv up the crowd:
The whole world digs that sound from the U.S.A.!
“Marie Marie” is a rousing cornfield love song of youthful longing and a red hot hit on any dance floor. Welsh rocker Shakin’ Stevens released a successful cover version in 1982.
Next on the tinsel-twinkling stage was Junior Brown, a real genuine honky tonk star (and I don’t use that term lightly). Brown invented his own instrument, the Guit-Steel, an electric guitar-steel guitar combo that delivers the twangiest sounds from surf-y tunes like “Lifeguard Larry” to “Broke Down South of Dallas,” a hard-luck truck song perfect for his deeper-than-bedrock voice. Joined by his wife Tanya Rae on rhythm guitar, Jon Penner on upright bass, and Scott Matthews on drums (who gave a fantastic drum solo, btw). Learn more about Junior Brown’s incredible life and career here.
Check out the sizzlin’ swinging number that might just make you wish you “Hung it Up:”
Uh-oh, better hope the wife ain’t suspicious when you’re Broke Down South of Dallas:
Next, Reverend Horton Heat’s band’s instruments arrived on the stage with a red-painted piano affixed with a giant red Christmas bow, a sign of the new (to me) surprise that was to come. Reverend Horton Heat’s band still features the legendary combo of Jim Heath (the Rev) and Jimbo Wallace on upright bass (who also plays wicked guitar), but they also include Scott Churilla on drums and new addition Matt Jordan on keys.
The Rev and his band played a variety of tunes from classics like “Baddest of the Bad” to the raunchy “Let me Teach You how to Eat” to what the Rev calls “cheesy Christmas music” that he obviously loves. In fact, he started the set with a rockabilly version of “We Three Kings” and continued with “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” It was fun to see the Christmas-y side of the band for Reverend Horton Heat’s first-ever Holiday Hayride:
Pianist Matt Jordan, 25, whose music is known as Matt’s Blues, paints his own pianos and adds New Orleans style flair to Reverend Horton Heat’s performances. He also plays independently as Matt’s Blues. Definitely a jazzy addition to the show! Check out one of his piano solos in the video below:
Joining the Reverend and his band was Big Sandy, a hero of Heath’s, his smooth rockabilly sound a contrast to the Rev’s grittier one. Big Sandy (off-stage name Robert Williams) played a role in the California rockabilly revival of the 1980s, and after twenty-five years he continues to put on a show with his band as Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys (more info on Big Sandy here.) He certainly brought plenty of charisma!
Below see one of my absolute favorite videos of the night. Not only do they look badass in the film still, but you can tell they were having fun. Everyone just shines. At one point, Big Sandy pointed at Matt to play a piano solo and the Rev looks so proud:
What a way to ring in the holiday season, I hope you enjoyed the footage of the show! See more videos on the Honeysuckle Roads YouTube channel.
I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy rockin’ Holidays 2017!