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The Reverend Horton Heat Brings Psychobilly Trio to Ketchum
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Friday, April 28, 2023
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

The Reverend Horton Heat says he’s grown too wise to jump off stage and bar tables.

“Me and my bass player Jimbo Wallace decided we were not going to last long if we kept getting crazy--we were always getting injured. And we decided: If you can’t walk, you can’t play,” said Jim Heath, aka the Reverend Horton Heat.

But neither Heath nor Wallace have slowed down a mite when it comes to their brand of primal tribal rockabilly and roll. They still play their guitars with loud, pulsating, non-stop energy, and they still occasionally stand on the bass and throw it in the air.

They’ll bring their exhausting high-energy show to Ketchum when they perform at 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 1, at The Argyros, just ahead of headlining the Bayou Boogaloo Music Festival in New Orleans.

They will appear along with the four-piece Delta Bombers, an American rockabilly band that formed in Las Vegas in 2008 and recorded “Run and Hide” for the Netflix series “From Dusk ‘til Dawn.” Also appearing will be The Dusty 45s, a six-piece band that plays such classics as “A Taste of Honey” and “Surf Medley.” Tickets are $20, available at https://theargyros.org/.

Jim Heath calls himself a rock and roll shaman and a revelator—one who reveals and reinterprets the country-blues-rock roots of American music. He also calls himself a time-traveling space cowboy on an endless interstellar musical tour.

It all started for Heath in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he went to the record store to buy an Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath album but became riveted by the blues the store owner was playing. He learned to play the blues guitar, then joined a 1950s rock and roll band.

“When I was in high school, our garage band started making money playing throughout Texas every weekend. We were making good money even though we were still in high school so I knew I could make a living at it,” he said.

Rockabilly caught Heath’s ear during the late 1970s and early 1980s during a resurgence of interest in 1950s music. Deciding rockabilly had never really had its day in the sun, Heath became its champion, albeit playing it in a form Buddy Holly would probably not recognize.

Over the years he and his band, formed in 1986, filled 13 albums with songs like “Psychobilly Freakout,” “The Devil’s Chasing Me” “Big Red Rocket of Love” and “Galaxy 500.”

They released their 13th album “Roots of the Rev: Vol. 1” in February with cover songs of their own and cover songs of artists they know personally, including Willie Nelson. And it hit No. 1 on the Alt. Country Specialty Chart in late March, becoming the first rockabilly record to reach the No. 1 position.

“It was also No. one on other charts the last few weeks. It’s a win-win so far, anyway. Our fans really like it, and it’s already gone into reprint,” he said.

Heath’s moniker The Reverend Horton Heat was thrust on him by a club owner who invited him to headline his show as a solo act featuring just himself and his guitar.

“He said, ‘Your stage name is going to be the Reverend Horten Heat.’ I protested, but little did I know he’d already listed it in the papers that way. So, when I finished the show, people said, ‘That was really good, Reverend.’ I thought it would last a month or two, but here I am 37 years later—the Reverend Horton Heat.”

Heath and his group traveled around the country by school bus before the pandemic. Now, pared down to himself, Wallace and their drummer Jonathan, he will dive a Sprinter van through a giant sea of bluebonnets in Texas, pointing it from his home near Dallas north towards Idaho.

“We’ll tell some stories, and we’ll play our music with its ‘50s rockabilly influence,” he said. “We have a lot of great old fans we love to see but we also love first-timers. And, while a lot of people have heard our albums, I tell them: You don’t really understand us until you see us live.”

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