Dash Rip Rock is well into another quarter-century of roaring rock ’n’ roll, presented in that most inviting of all venues - the bar. In fact, the band’s founder, guitarist-singer-songwriter Bill Davis, has been called a barroom poet, and he couldn’t be more honored than if his band had been inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
Actually, the hall of fame came calling in 2012, so Davis can brag about both honors, or he might if he was the bragging kind. The soft-spoken native of Baton Rouge has come to represent the New Orleans rock scene since he formed his band during the first roots rock revival, back when The Stray Cats roamed the land, along with Jason & the Scorchers and other such take-no-prisoners rockers.
Davis is still touring to promote Black Liquor, his band’s 18th album, released in 2012. The first self-titled Dash Rip Rock album came out when records were still the standard, in 1986. Since then, the band and its fans have taken delight in the trio’s sound, as well as some of the unusual names affixed to their albums, such as Get You Some of Me, Testosterone, Hits and Giggles, Not of This World, Boiled Alive, Recyclone and Hee Haw Hell, the latter of which had an unusual concept: a punk rock opera based on Dante’s Inferno.
When Dash Rip Rock recorded Not of This World in 1990, the producer was the legendary Little Rockborn Jim Dickinson, whom Davis had requested as his “dream” producer in the aftermath of Dickinson’s work with The Replacements on Pleased to Meet Me.
“One of the many bits of Dickinson wisdom, among a virtual fountain of really cool Southernisms, that I picked up,” Davis says, “was when he handed me a really old guitar to play, and I said I was going to find one that was in tune. Jim said that something he had learned from The Cramps was that ‘tuning is relative,’ and I always think what a truism that is. Not only did he teach us that you don’t need to worry about that as much when the energy and the performance are right, but he also took us to all of his favorite barbecue restaurants in Memphis.
“And there was a full bar on hand at Jim’s at all times.”
Davis has had different bassists and drummers through the years, which have seen the band touring with or opening for The Ramones, Joe Ely, The Black Crowes, Lou Reed, The Replacements, No Doubt, The Circle Jerks and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.
Now Davis is poised to enter a new genre, that of the “tribute” album.
“We were at Tab Benoit’s studio on the bayou and we decided that Billy Joe Shaver deserved the tribute treatment,” Davis says. “We have sometimes felt a kinship of a sort to Billy Joe, since we feel like our band and him, we both have sort of gotten the short end of the stick. But what we have in common, more importantly, is that neither of us really care.
“It’s the outlaw sensibility where we really saw a parallel. I only had a scant idea of what Shaver had done, and since everyone knew his hits, like ‘I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train,’ I started digging deep into his albums, looking for songs that he probably forgot he wrote, and came up with 12 hidden gems, under-appreciated stuff that even his fans probably never heard of, and then we gave each song a complete re-working. We had to call him to find out what the words were on some where he was mumbling, and I think he was on his tractor when he answered.”
Dash Rip Rock
9 p.m. today, Stickyz Rock ’n’ Roll Chicken Shack, 107 River Market Ave., Little Rock
(501) 372-7707 or stickyz.com
Weekend, Pages 32 on 09/12/2013
Print Headline: Dash Rip Rock’s new CD is tribute to fellow ‘outlaw’