Monday, 14 May 2007

This time around the Masked Musicians were touring to promote their newest release Rock en Espanol with Big Sandy on vocals. Instead of First Avenue, they were at the Turf Club near University and Snelling in St. Paul.

The Turf Club is really a bar that happens to have a stage at one end. They’re actually quite known for doing live music, but you’d never expect it by looking at the outside. Inside it’s just the right amount of dive-bar for a good rock-n-roll show.

About 18 months ago Jason Smay from the Hi-Risers took over as drummer for Los Straitjackets. It just so happens that Greg Townson, also from the Hi-Risers, was working merch at the show. Originally it was going to be the Hi-Risers opening for Los Straitjackets, but Todd, their bass player, couldn’t make it for personal reasons. I talked to Greg for a little bit and they have a new album in Spain which should be released in the US fairly soon.

Opening was a group called the Mezcal Boys and what an opener it was! They completely tore it up, putting on a blistering set. The band consists of the lead singer, upright bass, drums, and a guy on guitar that bore than a passing resemblance to Buddy Holly.

Once Los Straitjackets came out, it was really time to party. As always they put on a fantastic show. They all came out in black suits and ties in honor of Big Sandy. And that guy really works it too! Sandy danced up a storm and was literally dripping sweat. There were times when he’d have one arm hanging down and you could see a small stream of perspiration run from the end of his sleeve.

Even if I’ve seen them quite a few times, and for certain songs they have pretty standard routines, it was still great to see Los Straitjackets play live. I don’t know that I’ll ever get tired of going to see them.

The set list went something like this: Tempest, Calhoun Surf, Univ (?), Kawanga, Chica Alborotada, Sign (?), Have Love, Lonely Apache, Outta Gear, Pacifica, Munster’s Theme, Casbah, All Day, Hey Lupe (Hang On Sloopy), Suegra, Poison Ivy, Tailspin, Plaga (?)

There are several songs on the list that I just can’t find on any of the Straitjackets CDs or the couple Big Sandy discs I have. I’m not sure where they come from or even if I’ve read them correctly.

The last thing to note is that this is the first time I’ve seen Los Straitjackets without Kaiser George and the Pontani Sisters as part of the show. It makes total sense because there wouldn’t have been room on stage for the girls and they weren’t touring an album with George on it. Still, it was a bit strange, but not necessarily in a bad way.

Overall it was a good show and I’m looking forward to the next time I can see the boys play. The only way the night could have been better was if the Hi-Risers had actually played.

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