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Extended Play 5.9.07

by Jordan Green

Word is out that Los Straitjackets, Big Sandy and the Iguanas will kick off the Eastern Music Festival’s Fringe series next month. They’re all playing on one stage at the Empire Room on June 14.

Los Straitjackets are EMF veterans, and perhaps the most renowned instrumentals band after their heroes, the Ventures. I had the pleasure of seeing Big Sandy and his band the Fly-Rite Boys about a decade back in Lexington, Ky. This physically huge Mexican-American rock and roller specializes in rockabilly, western swing and traditional country. He’s got a jet-black pompadour that gleams like a freshly buffed Buick. I saw the Iguanas – whose music is a mélange of roots rock, Cajun and N’Awlins R&B – in roughly the same period. That was the only occasion I can recall when a strange woman invited me to make out at the bar. It could be that kind of party, I guess.

The enduring spirit and musicality of the Gulf Coast is evident all over the Piedmont map this week.

On Saturday, Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes will bring their funk bag to the Blind Tiger in Greensboro’s Whiskey District. One of the most fun things about the Dirty Notes is that they employ shady aliases such as Dirty Johnny, Busta Gnutt and Harry Pothead. All joking aside, this band has won serious accolades. David Fricke, senior editor of Rolling Stone, wrote last year that the Dirty Notes’ third album, Pain, Pleasure, Fear and Opera, is “what you’d get if Phish had been born at Tipitina’s and studied under George Clinton and Frank Zappa late every night on the levee.”

Also worth checking out: On Friday, Canadian acoustic string band the Duhks will be at Ziggy’s in Winston-Salem. They have a new singer, Sarah Dugas, who is getting raves from old fans. A video of their recent Merlefest performance of “Whole Lotta Love” has been circulating through YouTube. Yes, that would be Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones jamming with them – on mandolin, no less.

If you don’t get enough of the Duhks at Ziggy’s, you can also catch them in Black Mountain at the Lake Eden Arts Festival from Friday through Sunday. It’s a straight shot west on Interstate 40 for about 150 miles. The biannual regional and world folk music showcase declares a high-minded mission of seeking “to cultivate a deeper understanding and appreciation of cultural traditions and the arts in western North Carolina and beyond. We promote heritage preservation, multicultural education, community outreach, and connecting children and families to the arts.”

Representing Louisiana, Rosie Ledet & the Zydeco Playboys will be on the premises, along with Arlo Guthrie and family, which includes daughter Sarah Lee Guthrie and her husband, Johnny Irion. While Johnny’s legacy may not be quite as illustrious as that of his in-laws, some readers will remember that he played in Dillon Fence, a semi-legendary band in Durham in the early ’90s. Other members of the Old North State contingent include the stratospheric Carolina Chocolate Drops, Chairmen of the Board and Chatham County Line.

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