July 10, 2009 in Features

Horton Heat shows more groove, a little less rude

Hard-driving, country-punk rocker changed gears with ‘Revival’
Courtesy of Reverend Horton Heat photo

Reverend Horton Heat lands at the Knitting Factory on Tuesday night. Courtesy of Reverend Horton Heat
(Full-size photo)

If you go

The Reverend Horton Heat

When: Tuesday, 8:30 p.m.

Where: The Knitting Factory Concert House, 919 W. Sprague Ave.

Cost: $20/advance, $22/day of show

Call: TicketsWest outlets (509-325-SEAT, 800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com)

The Reverend Horton Heat is, of course, just a stage name for the band. Bandleader Jim Heath certainly ain’t no saint. “Reverend Horton” was just a nickname from the club owner where Heath got his start in the jazz and blues hotbed of the Deep Ellum district in Dallas.

In many ways, it’s that tradition which The Reverend Horton Heat brought back on its most recent studio release, “Revival.”

“Revival” is the eighth studio album and The Heat’s first release on North Carolina-based indie label Yep Roc Records.

The 2004 album got mixed reviews from critics and fans. It’s regarded as a bit of departure from the band’s previous releases – or, rather, a retreat to the country-fed punkabilly trio’s old-school roots.

“Revival” is still a driving rock ’n’ roll record, but with themes that touch on dealing with loss, it’s less rowdy than the band’s 2002 release “Lucky 7” or 2000’s “Spend a Night in the Box,” which pointed back to Heath’s Deep Ellum roots.

That once-industrial warehouse district had a nationally known punk scene in the ’80s, when the Reverend Horton Heat started. But 20 years into his career, his sound is also emulative of Deep Ellum’s role in the South’s prime jazz and blues era in the 1920s and ’30s.

That’s indicative of Heath’s ability to harness the quintessential elements of country, rockabilly, blues, rock and punk, which explains the Reverend Horton Heat’s widely diverse, cross-generational fan base – that, plus the band’s stellar touring reputation and irresistibly rebellious spirit.

They’re still known as filthy drunks who play songs about sex, fights and drinking – led by a man who has the audacity to call himself Reverend. Only now they are doing it with a little more groove and a little less rude, while retaining their high-energy stage show.

Since “Revival,” the Reverend Horton Heat released a Christmas album in 2005 and a best-of album in 2006, and has been touring seemingly nonstop, playing an average of 200 dates per year.

The band is rumored to be releasing a new album before year’s end.

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