Shakin' the Blues
catalog-no. dr 0007
rock/blues - 2002
SCW (Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies)
Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies
There still seems to be a fair number of false ideas and conceptions connected to the term Southern rock these days, be it racial prejudice or the thought of intellect-free macho posing. Yet anyone concerned about all this should be clear about one thing: it's all about the music. The music is the message and it's a kind of music that is very much concerned with honesty. Every rocker from the South is clearly motivated by his or her (regional) identity and is quite keen to convey a sense of self-confidence. The Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies are true Southern rebels in this sense. They like to have a shot of Dickel - no Jack - and they do play Southern rock in the widest sense of the term. Along with bands like The Black Crowes or Gov't Mule, they belong to the rockers who still wave the confederate flag but stay clear of any sense of jingoism. The band has been around for 12 years and SHAKIN' THE BLUES "Live" is their new album. It's their first for DARK REIGN. Welcome aboard.
The name of the band comes from one of Gary Larsen's classic "Far Side" cartoons and it's not at all connected to any kind of exotic junk food from the South. The band's line-up is: Mike Farris (vocals, guitar, harp), Rick White, Bobby Watkins (guitars), Steve Burgess (bass), Terry Thomas (drums). No keyboards, please....
The band was founded in Nashville in 1990. They have never been purists and their sound incorporates elements from classic Southern rock, heavy rock, blues and jam rock. They can't be classified all that easily and they're an unpretentious, one-of-a-kind bunch of players. SCW have started out on Atlantic in 1994 (Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies") and then continued their record-making career on the archetypal Southern rock label Capricorn with "Magnolia" and Big Wheel". Their eponymous debut received lots of airplay and the very song "Shakin' The Blues" charted big. They have toured non-stop and have built up a strong and genuine fanbase. Their chemistry is special and at the center of their identity as a band. Many of The Wheelies' fans travel distances to see them. Just like the cliché of the classic and intense Southern band/fan relationship demands. "Our fans are the lifeblood of this band," bass player Steve Burgess says - no need to comment. SHAKIN' THE BLUES is album # 5 and it's their second live album after 2001's local release "Live Volumes 1 & 2".
The guys in SCW are team players more than anything else and one can easily tell how strong their mutual rapport is. It's the classic story of rock'n'roll saving lives, in a way. The meaning of the Southern rock term apparently even goes beyond that, at least for this band. They are embracing the rock'n'roll lifestyle, but their Southern identity contributes much more than just rebel poses. At the core of the SCW sound is a lot of true and authentic emotion, be it a simple boogie ("Boogie King") or a deep blues ("Little Red Rooster"). The Wheelies seem to have a preference for covers, too. Their versions of "Right Place, Wrong Time" by Dr. John, "25 Miles" by Edwin Starr or "High Time We Went" by Joe Cocker point out that black and white attitudes are truly integrated here. But just like their contemporary Southern compadres Gov't Mule and The Black Crowes, the Wheelies indirectly address the classic Southern theme of guilt. But they do it in a sassy, confident and loud kind of way, without any kind of nostalgia.
More than anything else, these contemporary rockers from Tennessee forge a bond between themselves and their audience and they do it with a lot of integrity. In the U.S., bands like this mostly don't find their audiences in urban areas, but every-where where's a healthy roots mentality and events like the annual H.O.R.D.E. festivals are supportive. This down-to-earth strategy seems to work without MTV and the mainstream music press - count the Wheelies as witnesses. Their self-confident sound conjures up the spirit of Lynyrd Skynyrd, but Ronnie Van Zandt's anger is replaced with Mike Farris' resolve. No matter if they play hard rock, heavy R & B, blues or classic Southern guitar rock, the soul of this band remains strong and unchanged. It runs through everything they play. Their enthusiasm and power are palpable and make SHAKIN' THE BLUES a great album for all those who need a shot of Southern attitude every once in a while. Final advice: PLAY IT LOUD!
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