Sunday, August 02, 2009

Runinations on the most underrated guitarist in rock

You know, I tend to think music a lot. I think about music history; I think about the connections between bands; I think about who would be in my dream band for various genres; I think about the stories behind various songs.

One of the ongoing inner dialogs I've had for years is, "who is the most underrated guitarist in rock"? Malcolm Young usually gets my top vote with Ted Nugent, Prince and Ronnie Wood making frequent appearances as well.

I'm starting to think Unknown Hinson should be on that list. The dude SMOKES on guitar. Seriously, if you forget everything else about him -- the hillbilly Dracula outfit, the Squidbillies, the hi-larious lyrics -- and just concentrate on what he does with the guitar, it's pretty amazing. And in case you're not familiar with him and think that he's totally alt-country, last night's show at The Berkeley was easily one of the most rockin' I've ever seen. It's obvious, both from the covers he chooses and the licks he throws into his original stuff, that this guy spent a major portion of his youth absorbing everything Hendrix, Jeff Beck and Robin Trower ever did. In the middle of "King of Country Western Troubadours," I thought to myself, "this sounds a whole lot like 'Day of the Eagle." As if to underscore the point, he started off the next song, a cover of "I'm 18," with the opening of "Bridge of Sighs." BTW, Russ has informed me that Robin Trower will be at Lincoln Theatre on Oct. 7.

Also recently, I've been thinking a lot about Charlie Watts. Specifically, I've been thinking about how Charlie always has this half bemused, half bored look on his face. The man is a drumming genius. You can set a clock to that snare beat, but he always has this look like he's watering the garden or something. Mind kind of elsewhere. Just doing his job.

Unknown Hinson's drummer, in a suit, tie and glasses, has the same look and quality, and I suspect he's spent a lot of time listing to and emulating Charlie. But when they hit on "King ... " I thought the guy was going to jump off his drum stool. That was the most animated he looked all night!

For this show, I refrained from video for obvious reasons, though it does seem like he's pretty taper-friendly. However, I did include a video of Robin Trower performing "Day of the Eagle", and a video of Unknown Hinson playing "King ..." last year in Kentucky. See if you hear the same similarities I do. Here are more photos from the show.

(Robin Trower)

(Unknown Hinson)


Alex said...

Unknown Hinson's "alter-ego", Stuart Baker, also plays guitar for Billy Bob Thornton's band, The Boxmasters. From everything I ever heard out of them, he seems underutilized. I wish some big ass rock star would pick him up as a sideman and really let him run with it and get him some exposure. I remember seeing him at the Hideaway for the first time and being left completely speechless by his version of Voodoo Chile. He absolutely murdered it.

carrboro ninja said...

agreed karen, I saw Hinson at He's Not last summer and remember soberly telling everyone for days he was one of the best guitarists i had ever seen live. ...just plain fluid on the fret board this one is. s.o.b. didn't play "Torture Town" though, which is the song for which and only reason why i went.