Planet RTH

The greatest blues show in the universe. Plus, Ode to Nugent

KID RAMOS, of the famous bulging biceps and imperial pompadour, played in an early version of the JAMES HARMAN Band. GENE TAYLOR, of the famous roly-poly barrelhouse belly, was with the Blasters before hooking up with the Harman crew of Those Dangerous Gentlemans fame. Ramos and Taylor now play with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, of the Texas stank blues thang, but Ramos is also a solo artist, and Harman never went anywhere and most likely never will, and now all three are doing trio gigs together, which I speculate—speculate, mind you—might be as bitchen as anything they've ever done in any other conglomeration—maybe more. Oh, yes, I should also mention that Ramos, Harman and Taylor play guitar, harp and piano respectively, and they do these things quite well indeed. Also, Ramos and Harman are both OC guys whom we should all be eminently proud to claim as our own, while Taylor is Canadian and so most likely smells of smoked meat and Labatt Ale.

Are we all clear on this? Good.

What these three bring to the stage—the reason this particular grouping excites me so very darned much—is a shared passion for the traditional. By this, I mean the RTH crew eschew the showboating and shredding endemic to so much blues, particularly on the local level (are you listening, Eric Trout?), but that ain't because they're not fully capable of playing circles around any flashboy on the scene. There's something strong, dignified 'n' deadly about a fine-tuned musician holding back his full arsenal in the name of good taste—kind of like the way Sugar Shane Mosley toys with his opponents and puts on a show rather than knocking them to their knees in the first round and peeing disdainfully on their prone bodies, as is his right as a genius. When the lightning bolt finally strikes and—bingbangzowie!—you realize you're watching a real artist at the top of his game, it can drive the very breath from your lungs.

The notion of this terrible trio at work with no drums or bass to clutter up the proceedings excites the hell outta me. From Tampa Red and Georgia Tom to Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell to Big Joe Turner and Pete Johnson to Corey Harris and Henry Butler, stripped-down, piano-based blues can be a lot more emotionally satisfying than its noisier, full-tilt cousins; my guess is this combo will fit in well with that distinguished legacy. Check 'em out Friday night at the Blue Café, and don't say I didn't warn ya.

Sticking to the stripped-down theme, the mighty, mighty PERSUASIONS also come to town this week. The Bed-Stuy veterans, together now 35 years, remain full of glorious surprises—no small feat for an a cappella group. In the past, I have sung the praises in these pages of poor, neglected doo-wop; the Persuasions take things a step further, serving up God's own vision of the human voice—an unaccompanied, harmonic blending from basso profundo boom booms to impossible falsetto weezlings. While this could become self-limiting or tedious on lesser lips, the Persuasions push their muse to the max, recording themed albums of everything from doo-wop to soul to sanctified gospel to recent tribute albums to Frank Zappa (!) and the Grateful Dead (!!!), somehow always making it work on a purely musical level, where such notions might easily devolve to the realm of mere novelty (à la Big Daddy, for instance). Sing out with the Persuasions Wednesday night at the Coach House.

Resolutely un-stripped-down 1970s cretin TED NUGENT plays the House of Blues on Sunday. In his honor, I have composed the following piece of bad poetry:

Oh, quivering Limbaugh metal maniac man: Nostril-fluff flaring as the baby deer ran. Amboy Duke puke nuke kook— Him big rock & roll leonine loincloth boy Beady snake eyes, loud lean mean/closet queen Steamy Barney Frank dreams Unrequited under calfskin covers. Bowie knife trembling anxiously, Caressing purple middle-aged meat-lust nipples: Read about him in the newsy (Glock 'n' Mag 'n' also Uzi) PETA bogeyman; Ku Klux Klan? Damn Yankee bite my cranky Charlton cheese Anglo wango tango. Swinging vine Tarzan decibel daddy Claret cochlea seeps 'n' screams: Him pack tuff heat guitar gun death (ugh!)! As the poor defenseless baby deer cries for mercy That will not be forthcoming through urchin eyes reflecting lecherous leer of the hairy, Evil doom before her. Cat Scratch Fever, yank my lever (Nuge Splooge)

Enjoy the chewy subtleties of salty skinbag gunpowder pouch Wang Dang Sweet Poontang!

Kid Ramos and Gene Taylor perform with special guest James Harman at the Blue Cafe, 210 The Promenade, Long Beach, (562) 983-7111. Fri., 10 p.m. $8. 21+; the Persuasions perform at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 496-8930. Wed., 8 p.m. $15. 18+; Ted Nugent plays at the House of Blues, 1530 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, (714) 778-BLUE. Sun., 7:30 p.m. $35. 21+.
 
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