I Don’t Drink No Likker I Cain’t See Through

That was Unknown Hinson’s rebuttal to a shot of Southern Comfort offered up to him by a rabid fan as he rocked the puny stage at Jammin’ Java Sunday night. It was quite a scene, despite the fact that only about 40 people (many of them tattooed and pierced, and a few who were stankin’ drunk) had made the trek out to Vy-anna (as my friend called it) to see the surf-punk-a-billy-alt-country-western performer who hails from the Charlotte, NC environs. Hinson was in a rhinestone-festooned black jacket (the kind that Porter Waggoner might have worn) with 2-inch tall white letters emblazoned on the back announcing “I Am Unknown Hinson.” His outfit was completed by a black string bowtie, black pants, and one of those widows’ peak Dracula dos, white pancake make-up and extra-long drawn-on sideburns. Soon after he took the stage with a .45-caliber cap-gun blazing, his manservant and chauffeur, Gustav, took Hinson’s black and white Telecaster out of a custom coffin-shaped guitar case and lovingly presented it to his master.

Gustav spent the rest of the performance standing stock-still at the corner of the stage, even when several likkered-up women who’d apparently come straight from a Mother’s Day garden party – one serving bucketloads of margaritas – gyrated in front of him and generally taunted the man.

Hinson’s trio alternated between fiery Horton Heat-type punk-a-billy riffs, slow, bluesy numbers, Teddy Bear-era Elvis crooners, and lilting CW tunes. Hinson is a great guitarist, but the lyrics are what truly set him apart. Too bad the muddy sound at Jammin’ Java all but obscured the meaning of ditties like “(I Can’t Believe You’re) Pregnant Again,” “Alkyhol Withdrawal,” “Hippie Girl,” and “Barbie-Q.” JJ, given to folksters and navel-gazers, is not the appropriate venue for a thrash artist, but the club’s been taking more of Iota’s artists lately. Let’s hope to see him at 9:30 some day, as that club’s booking agent was in attendance and happy with what she saw.

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