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July 6th, 2005

Nightlife Music: Tombstone Brawlers and Spitfire America

by J.J. Connelly

Tombstone Brawlers

The first time I saw the Tombstone Brawlers was at New York Decay’s annual Drop Dead Festival at The Knitting Factory. Originally, I was a little disappointed with the lineup at the Drop Dead Fest. One of my favorite “Horror Rock” bands had been excluded and I was thinking of skipping it altogether. By the same token, Alex and Polina have always been really nice to me, and they always give a portion of the proceeds to charity. Between that, and the fact that you just don’t get gatherings like the Drop Dead Festival in SoHo very often, I decided to at least show my face. I was glad I did.

I got there just as The Tombstone Brawlers were taking the stage. The stage and the surrounding area were decorated with skulls, bones, spider webs and theatrical blood. After all, this is Psychobilly. Psychobilly is a term originally used in the Johnny Cash song One Piece At A Time. Nowadays, it refers to a music genre that incorporates country, rockabilly, blues, surf, punk, and old time rockn’roll. Of course, it wouldn’t be psychobilly if not for the lyrics. The lyrics of most psychobilly songs will refer to blood, guts, murder, mayhem, and horror films.

As quickly as the band started playing, the crowd was whipped into a frenzy. Women began dancing and guys began slamming as the band started playing “Demonatrix.” Vocalist Charlie Splatterhead stepped onto the stage looking like he just got murdered in a gang fight. As rowdy as the crowd got, it was never quite good enough for Charlie Splatterhead. In between songs, which included titles like Valley Of The Dead and Die You Zombie Bastards, the eloquent Mr. Splatterhead was constantly exhorting his fans to do more. “If I don’t see you punks in the pit movin’ for this next song, I’m gonna start bustin’ heads with this mike stand!” This seemed to work. With each song they played, both loyal followers and first timers alike had the place rocking even harder.

A good friend of mine got me upstairs to talk to the guys after the show. In addition to Charlie Splatterhead on vocals, the band is made up of Pete on Bass, Regis and Zacher on guitars, and Paul on drums. These guys have come together from the remnants of other bands such as Broken Heroes, Los Gatos Locos and the Bristles. The current lineup, in place since 2002, have been busy touring Europe, playing gigs all over the northeast, and recording their album Scary Movies. Great sounds, tongue in cheek humor, and even a cover of the Queen classic Fat Bottom Girls make this an excellent cd.

As this article goes to print, the Tombstone Brawlers are in the studio working on their next cd. Tower of Moonshine will include songs like Meat hook Lover and House Up In The Woods. As soon as it’s on the market, I’ll be sure and get a copy. I’m also keeping an eye out for their next NYC gig. You can keep track of this band by going to their website: www.thetombstonebrawlers.com

Spitfire?Ǭ America

I got to see Spitfire America at Don Hill’s on a recent “Rock Candy” night at Don Hill’s. Don Hill’s has an excellent sound system for a small club. They also show a lot of support for female fronted rock bands. The night I was there, there were several other bands on stage as well. I enjoyed most of what I heard, but I was there for Spitfire America, which is fronted by none other than Jezo Black.

Jezo has been a big part of the Downtown NYC rock scene for years. Her first gig was at a biker party when she was only 16 years old. Since then, her band Spitfire America has had several incarnations, but always with her in front. Spitfire America’s current lineup includes Todd on Guitar, Duff on Bass and Brian on drums. Each of these guys is a great musician. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be in Spitfire America. Regardless of the band however, when Spitfire America plays a show, it’s all about Jezo.

Jezo has Rock Star stage presence and a vocal range that will blow your mind. When I see her onstage with her band, I’m reminded of what Rock n’ Roll is all about. Loud, fast, and sexy as all Hell. All around the world, young girls are taking voice lessons, donning sexy black outfits, getting tattooed, and trying as hard as they can to do what comes to Jezo naturally. God bless them all, but odds are they will never be what the front woman of Spitfire America always has been: a natural.

The only thing that I never understood was why Spitfire America had never hit the big time in all these years. When I caught up with Jezo before a recording session, I asked her about this. She explained to me that she had been approached by record execs several times, but they wanted to make her a solo act. Jezo wouldn’t allow herself to be separated from her band, with whom she loves making music. Imagine that&loyalty. Loyalty to her friends and band mates in the face of a big bucks offer to abandon them. In addition to all her other qualities, this makes her a rare breed indeed, especially in the music business.

Spitfire America will be releasing a new cd soon. Keep your eye out for it, and get your self to one of their shows next time they’re playing in town. You’re guaranteed a night of ass kicking, hard hitting rock and roll. www.spitfireamerica.com

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