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Swamp Mama Johnson Visits The Dry Side With Blues Plus

Who knew the swamp could be such a boogy-down kind of place.

But sure enough, Swamp Mama Johnson has set the wetlands a-sizzle.

A five-woman band that hails from the marshes west of the Cascades, these gals sling out a seductive blues-based rock that crackles with licks of funk and jazz.

Don’t even try to sit still when they roll into the drier side of the state tonight. This is stuff to pound the floor to.

“People usually wind up being very sweaty,” says Tracy Ferrara, the band’s sax player.

Swamp Mama Johnson formed five years ago after meeting in the continually drenched Seattle. Now based in Bellingham, the band plays the Fort Spokane Brewery tonight.

Singer/harmonica player Lisa Mills sports a luscious vocal style akin to Bonnie Rait. With a sultry fervor, she belts out woman-scorned songs like “Gasoline,” from their second album “Wetlands.”

“You wanna play dirty boy/you’ve met the queen/You’re playin’ with matches/in a pool of gasoline.”

Prone to mid-song instrumentals, the Swamp Mamas break out some heated harmonica bits and tight guitar solos.

But while “Wetlands” digs its roots firmly into the blues foundation, “I don’t know if you could really just say ‘Hey, this is a blues band,’ because it’s not,” Ferrara says. “It’s something else, but we don’t know what to call it.”

“Cradle Robbin Mambo” features a smooth Latin sound buoyed by juicy sax interludes. “Funky Special” is an upbeat instrumental piece that lives up to its name.

The band is preparing to release its third album, “Peachfish Stew,” in mid-June.

“I’d say it’s a little more diverse and a little more daring,” Ferrara says, explaining that ska and Cajun tunes can be found amid the blues and rock.

We won’t be insulting and dwell on the fact that this is an all-woman band. Suffice to say, the Swamp Mamas realize they’re a rarity and enjoy their uniqueness. “It’s one of the reasons why it’s been such a kick,” Ferrara says.

Feel Swamp Mama Johnson’s heat tonight at 9:30. Cover is $6.

Living legend

He has influenced the likes of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Eric Clapton.

He is one of the founding fathers of the Chicago blues sound, a Grammy-nominated artist who, although he is now 74 years old, continues to put his immaculate guitar work on display.

He is Jimmy Rogers, a true piece of American music history. And if you want to see him, you best get your tickets before they’re all gone.

Rogers will perform four shows at Tubs in Coeur d’Alene starting Thursday night and for the following three nights. The intimate joint packs in only about 40 people, so it’s best to get tickets early.

And Rogers is likely to be a hot item. With his former bandmate, the legendary Muddy Waters, Rogers helped pioneer the sound that became known as “Chicago Blues” in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

His career has spanned the decades as some of his hits have become blues staples - “Chicago Bound,” “Sloppy Drunk” and “That’s Alright” among them.

Clapton, who has called Rogers “one of my all-time great guitar heroes,” recently recorded two of Rogers songs - “Goin’ Away Baby” and “Blues Leave Me Alone” - for his album “From the Cradle.”

Rogers is now one of only a handful of living members of the Blues Hall of Fame. Still, he keeps up a tour schedule that would tire out even the younger rock set. Last year he spent 200 days on the road performing.

Check out this slice of history starting Thursday through May 25. Show starts each night at 8. Tickets are $30. Tubs is located at 313 Lake Coeur d’Alene Dr.

Pink and proud of it

Imagine if you will, an Astro minivan - painted “homewrecker red” - pulling up to a grocery store in the middle of Knocksville, Tenn.

The door swings open and out steps a man, his hair a blazing shade of pink, his shirt an equally eye-popping pastel, tight Jordace slacks wrap around his backside. He stands confidently in his high heels and basks in the glory of a fur coat he’s donned, its soft tufts competing with the pink of his apparel.

Five guys in leather jackets tumble out behind him.

Such was the scene when punk rockers The Lizards and The Automatics rolled into Rednecksville recently.

Needless to say, the reception wasn’t exactly a warm one.

“We got some real strange looks,” says Jesse Kimball, bassist for the Portland-based Automatics.

“You look like a pink house, why don’t you go back to gay town,” onlookers shouted.

Dave Downey, lead singer for the Sacramento-based Lizards and a man whose not afraid to wear pink, took it all in stride.

“I just stood there. I was waiting for them to wind down - get it out of their system,” he says with a laugh. “It’s something to tell the grandkids.”

Hopefully The Lizards and The Automatics will get a warmer reception as they head down the home stretch of their national tour, landing at Ichabod’s North tonight.

Both three-man bands offer top-notch frenetic punk rock a la The Ramones. Downey’s helium-hyper vocals have drawn comparisons to Alvin and the Chipmunks.

“I just kind of get all excited when I sing and it just seems natural,” he says.

Both bands’ songs are about a minute long - “very short, very fast, very poppy and very dorky,” Kimbell says. “Dorky as in there are six of us touring in one minivan. None of us have tattoos, none of us smoke cigarettes and five of us wear glasses.”

The month-long tour is the largest ever attempted by either band.

“It’s been sort of like a traveling circus,” Kimball says.

“It’s six stinky guys in a van all squished together,” Downey says. “We don’t hate each other yet. I think that’s a really good sign.”

Catch the show at Ichabod’s North starting at 9:30 tonight. The Lizards headline. Harpy, from Missoula, opens. Show starts at 9:30. Cover is $4.

More music

Assuming you aren’t going to the Metallica concert tonight, here are a few more tidbits to choose from this weekend.

Silly Rabbit plays at Outback Jack’s tonight with Chiseler and Greg. Show starts at 9:30. Cover is $3.

Covers of Invention (known for their Frank Zappa covers), Nodge and Blaze Kings play Ichabod’s North Saturday. Show starts at 9:30. Cover is $4.

Speaker plays Outback’s Sunday with Delbert and Cat Ion. Show starts at 9:30 p.m. Cover is $4.

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