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Rockabilly Pedigree and Stellar Seattle Bands Make for a Fun Night At Seattle’s El Corazon, By Holly Homan



Saturday night in Seattle and I attended yet another great show at El Corazon. This time it’s a rockabilly bash with a band called Whammy headlining. Most readers probably have never heard of Whammy, but most readers are familiar with the pedigree of at least two of the members. Tim Polecat (of Polecats fame) ground out chords on a Gretsch and performed most lead vocal duties while Slim Jim Phantom (of Stray Cats fame) banged away on a stand up drum kit and performed most the harmonies. Add stand up bass player Jonny Bowler (from The Guana Bats) and you’ve got one damn fine rockabilly trio. The Whammy came on stage all wearing matching leather biker jackets (which were soon shed revealing an array of tattooed arms). Tim Polecat wore a ring of skulls around his neck. They tore into song after song that including “Train Kept a Rollin All Night Long” with both Slim Jim and Jonny chanting the chorus, all night long. Then there was the cover of the old Beatle’s song, “I’ll Cry Instead,” pumped up all rockabilly style.

When it came time to do a Stray Cat song, they chose “Rock This Town,” which Slim Jim took over lead vocals on. There wasn’t a pair of feet that weren’t dancing to this.

The Polecats’ most popular song in the US, “Make A Circuit with Me,” wasn’t performed. As Tim Polecat explained, the song can’t be performed with just three people. They’d have to do it karaoke. Instead they broke into a less famous but way fun song called “Little Pig.” Again, there wasn’t a pair of still feet amongst this sparse but appreciative audience. Tim Polecat strutted about the stage like a proud peacock, exhibiting many of the same moves he was so famous for in the Polecats days of the late seventies and early eighties. Slim Jim and Tim would occasionally stop to joke with the audience about the use of Facebook and emails in between cranking out lots of traditional fifties and sixties roots rock with a punked up rockabilly attitude. At one point T-Rex’s “Bang a Gong” was inserted (The Polecats’ famous T-Rex cover of “Jeepster” was not performed this time).

When the band returned for an encore, some dude in the audience requested “Rockabilly Guy” (an old Polecats’ song). In half a second, Tim Polecat obliged by ripping into the intro and the other two followed his lead. What a night. I saw the Stray Cats in 1982 and again in ’83, but never saw the Polecats. When I heard who was in the band, there was no question that I had to go see this show. I am not sorry I did. This show should have been better publicized. I only heard of it when I happened to tune into Zorch Radio (psychobilly specialty show aired on KGRG) last Thursday night. I finally got to see Tim Polecat play live. How cool is that?

The Whammy weren’t the only band heating things up at El Corazon on this Saturday night. Preceding The Whammy was a Seattle band called Stars of Bombay. This four-piece came out dressed identically in black trousers, black sweaters with stiff white collars underneath and black ties tucked under the sweaters. The tide was high and the surf was up as The Stars of Bombay (Evan D. Foster – Lead & Rhythm Guitar, Steve Davis – Lead & Rhythm Guitar, Erik T. Foster – Bass & Bryan Crawford – Drums) played an all instrumental set of surf guitar songs. Evan was the showman of the group. He moved about the stage as if it were made of hot coals and made facial contortions throughout. For the finale, he leaped off the stage and started dancing within the audience without missing a lick and at one point, collapsed on his back while still playing, before leaping up and back onto the stage. Stars of Bombay are a brand new band — barely a year old, but one wouldn’t know this by watching them, for they seem as polished as any seasoned veterans. Check them out. You won’t be sorry.

Preceding The Stars of Bombay was another Seattle band, Dead Man. Dead man is only a two-piece, but left me scratching my head, wondering how this singer/guitarist and drummer can produce such a full sound. Dead Man consists of Uncle Hickory, a gray-bearded dude with a brimmed hat and tattoos up his arms and who sings like he’s gargling gravel and trying to cough it up at the same time. His rich and gravely voice is perfect for the straight up R&B these two produced. Between Uncle Hickory’s twangy guitar strumming and the solid drumming of Brian Nelson, I felt like I was watching them in a smoke filled, stifling hot club in the swamps of Louisiana. The Dead Man’s sound was so authentic the chill of a damp Seattle night became an oppressively muggy night somewhere in the deep south.

Opening the entire show was Seattle’s foremost rockabilly sweethearts, The Hot Roddin’ Romeos. WOW! This is rockabilly with a punk rock kick. They totally rock out. Front man Johnny Rocket exudes enough charm and energy to power the band’s shows.

They put on a stellar performance despite the small audience. The few who were in attendance were very vocal in letting their feelings known that Hot Roddin’ Romeos are a fun band. Any roots rock fans would do themselves a terrible disfavor for not checking these guys out. Besides Johnny Rocket, Hot Roddin’ Romeos are, D.C. Wheeler- Guitar, Billy Burns- Doghouse Bass, and Lynn Sepeda- Drums.

El Corazon is guilty of hosting a lot of great bands and Saturday night, February 23 was no exception.

Holly Homan

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