Just around the corner from Santa Fe Plaza, El Paseo Bar & Grill is not the most likely place in town to find garage rock. Enter Billy Miles Brooke, a musician whose past credits include glam cover band The Stardust Cowboys, a stage production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and some fine solo work. A couple of years ago, Brooke partnered with the establishment’s owner, Matt Chavez, to host the sporadic Indie Rocks series showcasing acts that normally wouldn’t make it to El Paseo’s usually sedate stage.
This Saturday the buzz is over one of Burque’s latest, Suicide Lanes, fronted by longtime scene fixture Kenta Henmi. Henmi’s trash ’n’ roll outfits always come with a sneer and big juicy New York Dolls-style lead guitar: The Jonny Cats, The Blastamattos, The T-Lords. After a single hour-long practice, the latter recently played a triumphantly sloppy 15-year reunion set at Low Spirits, a chance for Henmi to revisit some old guitar licks before introducing the new band.
Although he never strays far from his tomcat roots, don’t believe the common consensus that Henmi plays rockabilly. “I don’t have that abilly-ty,” he quips. “It’s just cowpunk.”
Early R & B combos favored piano and sax, but when white kids took over rock ’n' roll, the guitar gained prominence with a sound more country than blues: Cliff Gallup (of Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps), Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly. Hell, even Chuck Berry was less influenced by blues than by country and Western. Just before the British invasion, the blues finally won and soulful, swampy riffs began their slow degeneration into indulgent wank. Henmi’s talkin’ rock and roll here with a trashy nod to Johnny Thunders, who was alternately one of pre-punk’s best and worst guitar players, depending on how much junk and pills he’d had before each gig. Henmi has taken the best of Thunders with the occasional tough riff à la The Dictators’ Ross Funicello.
When Suicide Lanes packs El Paseo with friends and fans making the trek from Albuquerque, the band will already have two gigs under its collective belt, one on June 24 as part of Launchpad’s Thursday Night Girl Fight series. At the time of this writing, no one’s heard anything yet except a rehearsal demo of the 1960 Shirelles hit “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” with vocals by bassist Eva (Pan!c) Blaylock. Don’t expect more of the same ilk live, but rather a host of Henmi/Blaylock originals in all their new and scruffy glory. Keeping the Suicides a family affair, the pair is joined by Pan!c’s first boy drummer, Anthony Ortega, slapping the skins in perfect time and taste.
Cherry Tempo will draw the Santa Fe crowd since the band gets regular airplay on KBAC-FM. Despite Javier Romero’s nimble songwriting and hooky melodies, the live sound is rawer and less sweet than on disc. The soft-
Cowpunk, garage trash, pop punk, lots of hooks—this show has it all. Who wants to see three bands in a row with the same influences? That sort of lineup has dominated the splintered music scene for too long.