Alibi V.22 No.3 • Jan 17-23, 2013 

Aural Fixation

Sioux City Pete & the Beggars Call up Thunder

Keith Johnson
I got an email several years ago from one Sioux City Pete, looking to set up a show here in town. I’d heard of his previous band, The Chickenhawks, and being that he was from my home state of Iowa, I gave it a listen. Since I had a good whiskey buzz and a decent pair of headphones on, I was most impressed. Incarnated as Sioux City Pete & the Beggars, this band belched out raw, throbbing blues-rawk with Pete's appropriately phlegmy howl to match it. This is definitely music best suited for live consumption.

I was a bit unnerved by the persona he presented, though. With a thematic fixation on everything dank and evil and a look ranging from poker-playing-dandy-gone-to-seed to nasty-A-camp-drainbow-hippie, I wondered what I’d be getting into. Was I really going to invite this stranger and his band of degenerates to play songs about drugs, murder, Satan and pedophilia at the Center for Peace & Justice (my venue option at the time), and then crash at my house? I later heard a secondhand story about shystie drama between Pete and a previous booker, and I decided I wasn’t up to the challenge. I felt a little bit guilty, but hey, we’ve all got our own safe-zone boundaries.

Call me a wuss for that if you like—you rock and roll rebel living on the edge—but be honest, how do you prefer your danger and depravity? Up close or at a safe distance? “Authentic” or stylized? Are you sure you know the difference? Do you really want to drink hooch with Robert Johnson and risk getting stabbed over cards? I’m still sorting out the answers to these questions after decades of living Ragged but Right and fighting my own demons with music and other mind-altering substances.

At any rate, I’m glad to have another chance to see The Beggars play Albuquerque. They’ve been churning out music and touring (all on the DIY tip) since 2002, so they’re certainly not slackers. It takes a lot to stand out when working within this rockified Delta Blues territory that's already been so well-tread by the likes of the Gun Club, Immortal Lee County Killers, art-school dropouts Pussy Galore, et al. It’s filthy, atavistic music that encompasses Dead Moon at its most genuine, GG Allin at its ugliest and even corporate schlock like Nashville Pussy. The Beggars certainly hold their own among that company.

Keith Johnson
And they’re no dummies, either. I recall Sioux City Pete savvily using the term “Dionysian” to describe their sound in the email I got, and the Beggars’ Wordpress site is peppered with quotes from authors Louis-Ferdinand Celine, Wilhelm Reich and obscure occult artist Austin Osman Spare. They’ve also got a keen sense of history, working in lots of old blues and other relevant covers (The Stones’ “Cocksucker Blues,” natch), and reference just about every cultural touchstone one would expect from digging in the deep, fertile muck of repressed and perverse American history. Sioux City Pete & the Beggars now hail from Seattle, and the band features two rocking ladies (Amanda Prince and Ana Baez) up front and Anthony Giveria on drums.

Opening act Pancakes! is loving couple Jess and Seth on drums and guitar. I know Jess from when she was in The Potty Mouth Sherries, a very fun local all-girl band, many years ago. Like PMS, Jess’ new project makes use of the classic KISS formula for their music; well, “keep it simple and silly,” is more apt, not “keep it simple and stupid,” like KISS did. Also playing—in the fine tradition of moralist-baiting band names—is the Terri Schiavo Dance Party. A newish band, TSDP will be bringing the house party rock to their own home. It will rock, and the house will be rocked by it.

This show is at my current favorite DIY venue, the Iron Haus, which is not the scary, druggie punk house/squat near I-25 I heard so much about when I moved here 15 years ago; that one's long gone. This is the new “do things smart, respectfully and still have tons of fun” Iron Haus (715 Iron SW). Have you ever witnessed crowd surfing in someone’s living room? I have, several times, at Iron Haus. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 23. Some common sense and a $5 donation are much appreciated.

Sioux City Pete & the Beggars

with Pancakes! and Terri Schiavo Dance Party
Wednesday, Jan. 23, 8:30 p.m.

Iron Haus
715 Iron SW
$5, 21+