In one ear

Feb 17, 1999 at 12:00 am


Ann Arbor’s Ghettobillies – to put it somewhat cryptically – play two-legged songs for three-legged gentlemen and ladies with a sense of humor. The bastard lovechildren of Tom Lehrer, the Kinks, Dave Matthews Band and the Rugburns – or some other recombination thereof – Ghettobillies snuggle right up against that thin line between sublime and silly, between satire and stupidity. And, for the most part, they keep it on the sublime-satire side of the fence. The group’s songs succeed in large part due to the familiar acoustic-jammy-rock context – see also DMB, Phish and any number of on-campus configurations of guitar-slinging wackys – in which the ’Billies couch their butt-shaking, laugh-along-with-us fun. It’s the kind of stuff that gets all the freshmen talking come fall and reminds all the seniors how to let their hair down once finals are through. From the nyah-nyah snottiness of the Ghettobillies’ classic hits such as "Theme Song" to the riff-on-"Lola" of "Steve," the boys approach subtlety only in the sheer volume and pace of words they throw your way. It’s a lyric method wherein, "She’s a beauty queen/ Some things aren’t what they seem/ Come on and take a chance/ never mind the love in her pants/ and that her name is Steve," goes by in a verbal blur that leaves you laughing – if that is your chosen response, of course – another verse down the line.

All of this preamble leads to the conclusion that, yes, the Ghettobillies are a fun posse. Nothing to write to Greil Marcus about or anything, but that may be yet another selling point for this mildly brain-engaging fun. Ghettobillies celebrate the Detroit release of their debut CD Some Reseev this Saturday (yes, the distance – physically and culturally – between Detroit and Ann Arbor necessitates separate CD release soirees) with a performance at Alvin’s (5756 Cass Ave., near the campus of Wayne State University). Call 313-832-2355 for more info.


If you’ve spent any time dallying on the local music circuit these past couple years, you may have heard the must-be-mythic film title Get the Hell Out of Hamtown so often that you’d begun to figure on never seeing any product related to it. Guess again, O cynical one. (OK, so maybe I’m projecting some of my own cynicism on you, fair reader – sorry.) Whether or not you’re familiar with the above-mentioned independent, locally produced feature, the upcoming release of the film’s soundtrack is reason enough to celebrate. Appropriately enough, Planet Ant Records and PrincessCowboy Productions – the folks behind the film and music project – have planned such a celebration for this Monday at Hamtramck’s Motor (3515 Caniff). Kicking out the eclectic soundwaves in live performance style will be currently-starring-as-Garage-in-the-Planet-Ant-play-Garage rockers Park: A Rock Band. Got that? OK, let’s move on: Multimedia-Electro future whiz kids, the 19.5 Collective, Britpopsters-in-the-rust belt Caelum Bliss, electric troubadour Scott Fab, hook-infected-infectious-power-pop outfit Atomic Numbers and heartland-thinking-fellers American Mars will all make the stage at Motor a wonderful place to stand near starting at 8:30 p.m. Doors for the party open at 8 p.m. and CDs compiling tracks from these artists and more will be peddled for a mere $8. Who knows, you may just get a glimpse at what Get the Hell Out of Hamtown’s plot’ll be. For more information on the sound track, film or other related Planet Ant (the theater) activities, call 313-365-4948, or visit them on the Web.