Painkillers is a whiskey-soaked, bloodied-lip, kick in the pants of an album. It’s a trip just south of Yazoo City to the crossroads for a midnight jam session with Scratch himself. It’s a sweaty, dizzying, grind in a Tennessee juke joint. In other words, leave the glass and just take the whole damn bottle.
It seems Left Lane Cruiser’s Joe Evans and Brenn Beck enjoyed working with Black Diamond Heavies Reverend James Leg so much on 2011s Junkyard Speed Ball that they decided to do an entire collaborative covers album with him. The result is Painkillers, a 10-song collection that includes covers of tracks from blues legends Junior Kimbrough, Hound Dog Taylor, John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf and Mr. Crossroads himself, Robert Johnson. And besides the bluesmen covered on this great album, LLC and James Leg also take a shot at classic rock: the Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and even Bob Seger are represented.
The album? Well, if you’re a fan of either LLC or Black Diamond Heavies, you won’t be disappointed. They both stay true to form and Joe, Brenn and James play great together. Dirtied up slide guitar noise, big, booming drums, blues harp and some great keyboard work by Leg take this record from just some dudes getting together in the garage, getting drunk on cheap whiskey and jamming on some of their favorite tunes to something much more.
They open the record with Kimbrough’s “Sad Days Lonely Nights,” and I’m sure Junior’s smiling, wherever he may be. Their take on Seger’s “Come To Poppa” goes from Seger’s cheeky come-on to a much younger lady to something that borders on sinister. If you’re unfamiliar with Leg, imagine Tom Waits, David “Buster Poindexter” Johansen, and Louis Armstrong blended together with rot gut whiskey and rusty nails and served over dirty ice. It’s like the bogeyman trying to entice a coed to come home with him.
Hendrix’s “If 6 Was 9” no longer has it’s psychedelic overtones. They’re now replaced with a straight-up blues dirge, sung as if Tom Waits was underwater. It must be heard to be believed. One of the highlights is the cover of Taj Mahal’s “Chevrolet.” Most are aware of the Foghat cover from their much-overplayed eight-track classic Stone Blue. Here LLC’s Evans takes the lead vocal, and with a funky drum beat from Beck these guys shake the stale right off this old, musty track. John Lee Hooker’s “Red Rooster” gets the treatment too. They keep Hooker’s spirit fully intact while adding their own special blues seasoning to the recipe, giving it one heck of a kick. The album closes with a great cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Sway,” from 1971’s Sticky Fingers. With shared vocals between James Leg and Frederick “Joe” Evans IV, it makes for a great end to a funky, bluesy, sweaty ride.
Painkillers is a great tribute to the artists covered on it. It’s also yet another great collaboration from two of today’s most talented purveyors of beat-up, noisy, skronky blues. Take one with a glass of whiskey any time you can.
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Josh Johnson — Comedy at Calhoun Street Soups, Salads & Spirits, Fort Wayne, 7 p.m., $10, (260) 456-7005
Vince Gill — Country at Embassy Theatre, Fort Wayne, 7 p.m., $39.50-$79.50, 424-5665
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Community Orchestra — Mussorsky's Pictures at an Exhibition at Auer Performance Hall, Rhinehart Music Center, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 7:30 p.m., $4-$7, 481-6555
Open Mic Night — Variety at Checkerz Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 7-10 p.m., no cover, 489-0286
Scratch N Sniff 2.0 w/1/4 Kit Kurt — Variety at Deer Park Irish Pub, Fort Wayne, 6:30-8 p.m., no cover, 432-8966
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Fort Wayne Karaoke — Karaoke at Latch String Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 483-5526
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/TJ — Variety at Office Tavern, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., no cover, 478-5827
Three Rivers Karaoke w/Rob — at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 485-1038
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41st SOCA Student Exhibition — Works from students currently enrolled at USF’s School of Creative Arts, daily thru April 30, Weatherhead Gallery, USF Rolland Art Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Fort Wayne Artist Guild Exhibitions — Works by Alice Siefert at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Jennifer Caudel at Allen County Retinal Surgeons, Anita Trick, Citizens Square (2nd and 3rd floors), Darlene Selzer Miller at The Einhaus Group for Women’s Health, Patricia Weiss at Heritage of Fort Wayne, Emily Jane Butler at Ophthalmology Consultants (Southwest), Linda Binek at Ophthalmology Consultants (North), Carolyn Stachera at Rehabilitation Hospital of Fort Wayne, John Kelty at ResCare Inc. Adult Day Service, Wiletta Blevins at Town House Retirement, Karen Bixler at Visiting Nurse Hospice and Barb Yoder and Karen Harvey at Will Jewelers, thru April 30, fortwayneartistguild.org.
Glass: A Medium in Art and Automobiles — Dale Chihuly blown glass and fiberglass auto, daily thru Sept. 8, Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum, Auburn, $7.50-$12.50, 925-1444
Outdoor Sculpture Invitational — Fifteen outdoor sculptures from regional artists, daily thru April 30, School of Creative Arts campus, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Rhoda Gerig: The Hope of Eagles — Photographic images of eagles, daily thru June 4, Clark Gallery, Honeywell Center, Wabash, 563-1102
Spring 2017 BFA Exhibition — Exhibition of works by IPFW graduation seniors, daily thru May 3 , Jeffrey R. Krull Gallery, Main Library, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, 481-6709
Spring 2017 BFA Exhibition — Senior thesis projects from Bachelor of Fine Arts candidates Brenda Drayer (sculpture), Derek Hibbs (printmaking), Ellen Mensch (painting), Nathaniel Morris (sculpture) and Kyle Snodgrass (sculpture), daily thru May 7, Visual Arts Gallery, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 481-6709