Fun double bill last night of The Dirty Knobs (side band of Mike Campbell, guitarist of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) and Ahab at Harper's in Tarzana, the San Fernando Valley portion of L.A. not isolated by the major freeway closure that night.
Campbell and band both write and cover exceptional material, with Campbell's plaintive but bouncy wail alternating vocals with guitarist Jason Sinay. Gene Pitney's "Town Without Pity" became an epic instrumental worthy of Mick Ronson's cover of Rodgers & Hart's (!) ballet (!!) "Slaughter on 10th Avenue." The Knobs played the first surf medley in years to sound both soulful and joyfully sleazy, reminiscent of what the late Johnny Thunders brought to such numbers.
I also loved the band's bluesier tunes with chugging bass lines a la Arthur Alexander (think Lennon's Beatles' take on "Bad Boy.") In fact, despite the band's promo listing their influences as fairly standard 1960s elite like The Byrds and The Beatles, I believe The Dirty Knobs, perhaps even unknowingly, have ratcheted up their innate quality to compare to those who influenced that selfsame 60s' league in the first place. The Dirty Knobs deliver compelling rock/R&B/bottleneck slide guitar/surf music, always with a distinctive, great dirty groove.
Ahab, a band who thankfully might be rechristened in the near future, play their mix of originals and covers with boisterous expertise, thanks in part to new members Tony Matteucci (also of The Dogs) on drums and lead guitarist Apache, once of Little Caesar. Apache ushered in a similar sense of band camaraderie as shown in my photos.