Home / Slick 57 – “The Ghost of Bonnie Parker”

Slick 57 – “The Ghost of Bonnie Parker”

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Slick 57
The Ghost of Bonnie Parker
Laughing Outlaw Records

East Dallas, Texas boys: the East part is an important distinction to us Dallasites. That’s where the way-cool hepcats (like me and Otis) are from.

From their website:
Early one morning, in an un air-conditioned cabin on Lowest Greenville Ave. in E. Dallas, TX, after a long night of binge drinkin’ and chain smokin’ at Muddy Waters Saloon, Honky Tonk hopped in the T-sheets with Texas Punk Rock and had themselves a bastard love-child named Slick Fifty Seven. The bottom line is: Slick 57 believes in the roller derby, the hurkey turkey, hardware stores, Hank Williams and hand me downs. Slick 57 is the epitome of DIY culture and has traveled all over the danged place preachin’ the miracle of moonshine and the malice of ex-girlfriends to all who will listen.

John Pedigo & Ward Richmond founded Slick 57 in May of ’98. From ‘98- May ’01 they built a loyal Dallas following playing summer and winter breaks in Texas while they finished up their degrees at Emerson College (Boston) and Brown University (Providence, RI), respectively.
Trey Pendergrass is the drummer. Trey went to Woodrow Wilson High School in E. Dallas with Ward and John and we call him Teddy P cause he’s got soul.
Past members/ guest players include members of Rev. Horton Heat, The Queers, Slowride, Darlington, The Skatenigs, Kim Lenz, Ronnie Dawson & other rock-n-roll champions.

Drunk Life (2000)
Lo-Fi Lorraine and Her Bag of Tricks (1998)
(both are available from their website)

Since my preferred genre is Texas Music, I thought I’d kick this thing off by picking one out of the pile that my beloved wife leaves on my desk on a regular basis. She saw these cats one night while out doing her promotion thing, and fell for them. Of course, they gave her some CDs, and I ended up with one. As it turns out, this is a pre-release CD, and ISN’T AVAILABLE YET FROM THEIR WEBSITE!!! Get it together, boys.
UPDATE: It’s on Amazon, of all places – boy, is my face red!

To get an initial feel for them, I threw them in the CD player on Friday night and left it in all weekend. Working the ranch and the campground means I spend a lot of time in the cab of that truck, either driving around the campground, or going to town(s) for various supplies and auto parts and beer and BBQ, ad infinitum. That gives me plenty of opportunities to hear stuff the way I like to hear it. Kinda by surprise and with no clues as to what to expect. About the only thing I really need to know about a band is that they’re recommended by someone I trust. I’m slowly coming to trust the Mrs….she used to listen to boy bands like Insynch and New Kids and the Meaty Cheesy Boys. Now she’s at least listening to boy bands from Texas who are a lot more rootsy, write their own music, play their own instruments. They’re just as cute as the others, but in a hayseed way.

This particular album was heard in toto on the drive to and from Granbury in one listen, with a stop at Wal-Mart in between for paint, transmission fluid, and bologna. My first impression was that I liked what they were doing a lot. Very Texas, very alt.country, somewhat punk-ish. Lots of energy, and I can hear lots of influences that I like. There’s some Old 97’s in there, there’s some Ramones in there, there’s some hillbilly Scottish fiddle stuff in there. I thought then that they kinda overdid the cow-punk part, but that’s just because it’s a CD and I’m alone in a truck driving, instead of sitting in a bar and drinking in a crowd. I know from experience that studio album seems to press down the energy of a band and keep it at an arm’s length. I don’t know what the technical reasons are, but there you go. That there’s why I vastly prefer hearing a band live before I buy a CD. Naturally, that’s why I tend towards the “never heard of ’em” end of the spectrum for my music. I’d rather spend money on a cover charge and beer than on a piece of plastic. If I don’t like a CD, it hangs around on my shelf accusingly, and I grow to hate whoever it is. If I don’t like a live show, at least I get to have a cold beer and a night out with my bride, and I can write it off to a bad soundsystem or being drunk.

I spent the rest of the weekend listening to the CD off and on, while driving around. It grew on me more and more. At home, I perused the little CD booklet that it comes with. It’s got some exceedingly strange cover art that I won’t even try to guess the provenance of. It appears that these guys wrote (almost) all of their own stuff, which I admire greatly. The exception is Cheatin’ Side of Town, which they got from Killbilly (another great Dallas band), and which they do great justice to. I really love that song, and it’ll make it to one of my Hayseed Tapes CDs for sure. The more I listened to them, the more I could hear the Old 97s coming at me through the speakers. That is a good thing to me – they’re one of my old favorites and I think they are a good influence. They’re not copycats, though; understand what I’m saying here. They’ve just got that beautiful, hyper-active cowpunk sound that makes you wanna pogo or two-step, depending on your preference and expertise. Except that they need to tone down the Rhett Miller-ish vocals a little bit. John Pedigo is as good a guitarist as Ken Bethea, a little bit rougher but he’ll get better with experience. I just can’t believe this is a three-piece, either. They produce a lot of music for just three guys, and they’re rhythmically tight as hell. I always expect three-pieces to be sloppy on the rhythm section side of things, for some reason.

There’s really not a bad song on the whole thing, which makes this review thingy easier to write. That’s pretty damn good for eleven songs. I usually find a song or two that make me punch out to the next song. I totally love Cheatin’ Side of Town, like I already mentioned – it’s got that hillbilly Scottish-stomp, Irish-reel fiddle-ish sound with honky-tonk lyrics that makes everyone want to sing along with. I Won’t Beg and Swashbuckler, TX both have that sweet pedal steel that gives me the goosebumps and makes me think of long, straight West Texas highways at night. Still Waitin’ starts the reals Ramones-y stuff that comes out stronger later on in So Slow (which also has pedal steel). Jessica is pure Old 97s – of course, it’s about a lost girl and drinking and it’s got that super-fast drumming backbeat that shoves it along. And so is Holiday. Just for pure reading pleasure, I love the title of track 10 – Heading to My Ex-Girlfriend’s Wedding, and it’s a good song, too. Stormy Night, the finishing song on the CD, is the slowest one on the album, and features what sounds like the organ from Pat Luby’s in Lochwood (a reference that about 8 people will get.) It’s not the strong finish you expect after listening to this whole thing, and it’s kind of surprising that they’d put it here instead of earlier.

So, the bottom line from here is this: 3 Shiner Bocks (out of 5). They’re still young, and have room for improvement. The fact that this is their third recording and they’re still writing songs this good is highly impressive. I can’t wait to see them live. I would definitely invite these guys to be on the bill at a music festival, and I’d put them on late-ish on Friday, after they’ve had a few slugs of Wild Turkey and a case of beer.

P.S. Bonnie Parker is the Bonnie in Bonnie and Clyde, in case you were wondering. Those are two of the greatest outlaws produced here in Texas, a place that’s seen it’s share of wild-ass outlaws.

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About Scott Chaffin