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Russell Scott And His Red Hots
No bones about it...Russell Scott And His Red Hots are a great band! I've seen it two hundred times; audiences snake‑charmed and held in the grip of these three amazing musicians who wouldn't (nope, make that couldn't) do anything else for a zillion bucks. I've seen it across the board; from zoot‑suited swingers to pompardoured rockabillies and their rockafillies to musclebound jockasauruses to girls from the secretarial pool who've been at the bar since Happy Hour... ("Oh ..there's a band tonight? Do we have to pay?"). By closing time Russell Scott, Philippe Aubuchon and Gene Jaramillo have turned a random cross‑section of hominids into a congregation of True Believers (even the ones who have never laid eyes on a standup bass). Yup, there's something going ON here...
To fully track it though, you have to be at one of the band's rehearsals, held in a bare‑bones former chicken coop on drummer Philippe's rural Tarzana spread. That's where you see why it all works the way it eventually does, whether it be at a roadhouse throwdown or a debutante ball. You see Russell, the Friendly Giant, figure out a tempo by slapping it out on his ample, overalled chest like a sweet‑voiced silverback gorilla. You see him filter the sound in his head through his callused fingers into that doghouse bass that always seems a heck of a lot bigger when Russell's not standing next to it.
You see Philippe, who's been dividing his attention between a grab‑bag of Martian Percussion Gourds and the liner notes on a boxed set of Gregorian Chants, ease on in and pound out the exact right rhythmic bedrock, all Mona Lisa smile and Einstein mop.
You see Gene (who looks too young to sound this good) unconsciously coil his mitts around his guitar and squeeze out a hillbilly/blues hybrid that somehow manages to sound both filthy and pristine, all while finishing the joke he had been telling you.
Then Russell is singing like a nicotine‑throated choirboy and Gene tosses in a high, lonesome harmony.
There's such a sense of something being born here that you look around for an umbilical cord to cut. You hear Elvis, Ray Charles, Gene Vincent, Clyde McPhatter, James Burton, Charles Brown and the Everly Brothers all tossed together like a twangy Caesar salad.
Slowly, you realize it's that song, the one you always hated, that one by the Archies (or Barry Manilow, or Boz Scaggs, or Cher) but suddenly it sounds great to you and everybody's laughing their balls off.
That's what sets these guys apart. Not only do they love music, they refuse to be pigeonholed. They can hear the seeds of something worthwhile even in the most unlikely musical tidepools.
So let the world decide if it's Rockabilly, Jump, Swing, Rock & Roll, or Blues. To the band, it's all Red Hots Music. And for the audience, Last Call comes much too soon.
Tom Kenny, San Francisco
Russell Scott & His Red Hots Killer Combination (10inch LP)
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