In the madcap world of rockabilly, there has always been a question about who the king of the pickers should be.
(For argumentative purposes, we’re going to leave the immortal ones out of this discussion. Guys like Scotty Moore, Luther Perkins, or Duane Eddy are not the kings but the Gods of twang and that’s that. Moving along…..)
I have always believed that the two reigning champeens of rockabilly guitar have spent far too much time away from each other and need to be placed in a direct head-to-head pickoff to prove once and for all who should wear the championship belt with the Gretsch and Bigsby logos on it, and have the blessings of Bettie Paige thrust upon them. Place your bets and tighten your seatbelts. It’s about to get rough.
The Reigning Champ – Brian Setzer
Brian cut his teeth and inked his tattoos in NYC and the UK with the Stray Cats, was groomed by none other than the great Dave Edmunds himself, and took the stale but hip concept of big band music and made it revved up and cool, like a daddy-o. He is able to be smooth on tunes like “Sleepwalk” but can rev up the rebellion with tunes like “Switchblade 327” Show ’em what ya Got!
The Upstart Contender – Jim “Reverend Horton” Heath
Jim reigns from the dusty back-road honky-tonks of Texas. He grew up playing the bar circuits and got his name by an old player who felt he deserved the monikor of a righteous man. After landing in Austin, he made his first albums with none other than Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers producing him and sending off into a haze of feedback, cigar smoke, and cheap bourbon lullabies. The smoothness is dark, musky, seductive, and ominous at times (as seen in “The Devil’s Chasing Me”), and his razor licks in “Psychobilly Freakout” will cut you up like a Bowie Knife fight.
Soooo…..the King! The Contender! The shootout!
Place your bets! Cast your votes! Tote that barge! Lift that bail……IT’S A……IT’S A……..SHOOTOUT…..WHO YA GOT?!?