New, Upbeat Antabuse Boy!

Warren Zevon figures his gloominess is really pretty positive

Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers' guitarist RICK HOLMSTROM has a new CD out, appropriately titled Gonna Get Wild, and even more appropriately released by Tone-Cool Records, as Holmstrom has the wildest, coolest guitar tone you ever heard come out of a California white boy. The template seems to be Howlin' Wolf sideman Willie Johnson, who recorded the great early '50s sides with Wolf for Sun Records. Holmstrom's tone sounds like . . . well, it sounds like grandpa passing a gallstone, amplified through a cop car's public-address speaker. Lovely! More important, Holmstrom can, by turns, swing like a Charlie Christian, get introspective like a T-Bone Walker, or rip it up like a Johnny "Guitar" Watson. His fluid, playful phrasing and impeccable sense of rhythm transcend West Coast blues clichés and make him one of the most inventive musicians on the circuit. If there's a downside, it's that Holmstrom's vocals fail to keep pace with his guitar talents. Well, actually that's euphemistic: Holmstrom's singing basically sucks, coming strictly from the Bob Margolin Shut Up and Play Your Guitar school. Don't let that stop you from checking out his CD-release party Friday night at the Blue Cafe, where Piazza and company will be on hand and hopefully handle most of the vocal chores.

Warren Zevon plays at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano (949) 496-8930. Thurs., March 30, 8 p.m. $22.50; Wesley Willis performs at KB Club, 710 W. Willow Ave., Long Beach, (562) 427-0078. Wed., 9 p.m. $6; Rick Holmstrom plays at the Blue Cafe, 210 The Promenade, Long Beach, (562) 983-7111. Fri., 10 p.m. $10.
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