April 22 is a day that shall live in infamy. It was a night with five eminently go-toable shows on. Top of the list: Howe Gelb and Kate Maki at Babylon vs. White Cowbell Oklahoma, Steven Dall and the Longtimers at Barrymore’s.

I plumped for the cowbell. One, I’d caught Gelb at Bluesfest and had been amused by his mellow, folksy solo act – almost more raconteur than musician – but not overwhelmed. Two, I heard people got nekkid on stage at White Cowvell Oklahoma’s show. Barrymore’s it is!

I walked in the door at 10:15 – the sound of Stoogey powerhouse rock greets me as I walked up the steps to Barrymore’s gilded hall and sure enough, the Longtimers are on stage and rocking out mightily. Johnny Nash, playing his second show with the band, undoubtedly added extra vocal presence (plus a spiffy armband). It was a heavyweight show from these scene veterans. I detect a new wildness in their sound … a primordial ooze that, if captured on record, would be fine indeed.

Next up was Steven Dall, who began with a low key tune on acoustic guitar, abetted purely by lap steel player Fred Guignion. Then he brought out Ottawa’s Department of Foreign Affairs (the band, not the government ministry) to round out the sound. A nice moody singer-songwriter with a rock’n’roll edge. Australian songsmith Paul Kelly would be an apt comparison.

Then it was time for White Cowbell Oklahoma: On double-neck guitar, T’Boo Hollis Wayne Gentry IV; on another guitar, Clem (just Clem); on another guitar, the Cousin Who Cannot Be Named; on another guitar (last one, I promise!) Jessup H. Christ. On drums, Mudflap Williamson, on keyboards Jesse Lactater, Bubba Lee Phett handles the bass, Sgt. Rock sings and Sheriff R.R. Horton? He keeps all them boys in line … almost. Chainsaw Charlie McGee also helps out on chainsaw, stuffed animal destruction, purchasing clothes from pretty woman in the audience – and of course, the mightiest variety of cowbell around … the white cowbell! Also he tried to set folks on fire.

Round about now, you’re probably asking: Andrew, is these folks entirely, well, serious?

And how ! White Cowbell Oklahoma can be damn funny, but let me say it in all caps: THIS IS NOT A NOVELTY ACT!!!

Look past songs with titles like 'Put The South In Your Mouth' (sung partially in Dutch to prepare for an upcoming tour of the Netherlands). Look past the fact that Hollis plays slide guitar with his p**is at one point. Ignore the fact that a couple of young ladies, Pearl and Grace, take the stage to doff their tops for dollars (my film unfortunately had run out by the point - I kick myself). Pay no mind to the stuffed tiger thrown into the audience to be torn to shreds ( I saw its head being used as a hat by one audience member … who knew there was so much foam in those things?).

Take away all that – and a host of other crowd-pleasing shenanigans – and you still have a first-rate act.

There is no disputing the Sergeant’s soulful pipes, excellent (and well-coordinated) musicianship and quality songwriting. And let’s not forget the encore: A deadly cover of 'All I Wanna Do'. If you want a killer combo of Southern rock 70s rock, R&B and soul, you done come to the right place.

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Commenting On: Barrymore's, Ottawa, 22/4/2005 - White Cowbell Oklahoma, Steven Dall and

ie London, England

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