Bumbershoot 2014, Day 3: The Reverend Horton Heat

all photos by Brittney Bollay

With a career spanning three decades and eleven studio albums, The Reverend Horton Heat has set the standard for rockabilly music. Texas born singer-songwriter Jim Heath worked behind the scenes as a sound guy for many bands in Dallas before he decided to step into the spotlight and start his own band in 1985. When Heath decided on a name for the band he simply dropped the “H” from his last name and chose to pay homage to famous rockabilly legend Johnny Horton. Once he recruited a few talented artists, the band moved to Seattle and in 1990 their first album, Smoke ‘em If You Got ‘em, was released on Sub Pop. As with any long-running band, members come and go. The current lineup includes Heath and upright bass player Jimbo Wallace, who has been with the band since 1989, and drummer Scott Churilla. Their music has achieved wide commercial success and has been featured in several video games over the years. Guitar Hero Smash Hits even showcased their famous track “Psychobilly Freakout.”

The music lounge was cranked to 11 for the Reverend Horton Heat’s set here today. The place was a packed house, with at least two dozen people crammed standing in the back. But every single person glad they were there – Jim and the crew threw down a vicious set of rockabilly brilliance here today. The three-piece is as tight as it gets, with each speeding number done with perfection only outdone by the energy. Plus, the band does not shy on showmanship. For the band’s 1993 classic “The Devil’s Chasing Me”, Jimbo Wallace laid his bass down on its side and played sideways while Jim Heath ripped out a 3 minute solo on top of it. For the slow six burner “Loaded Gun”, each guitar signature only seemed to further accentuate the drunken simmer at hand. Even twenty years later, all of the classics sound as brilliantly effective as ever, mixing a sensual mixture of devilish intention and danceable sensation. But the new numbers sounded just as good – “Smell of Gasoline” from the band’s 2014 Rev made for a ripping opener with a great hook. Jim and the boys proved their place at the top of the rockabilly food chain. There’s no doubt they’ll be rocking the Starbucks stage to the ground later tonight.

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