Evan Johns

Burnin' Down the Barn (Only Boy)

It seems to me that if Evan Johns had more imitators/peers, there'd have to be a genre of rock named for him. Just as rock itself sprung from blues and country, and such offshoots as heavy metal and grunge jumped off from there, Johns takes the basics of rock & roll and, while keeping the heart intact, strips off the polish and sheen like so much wax buildup. A Big Guitar From Texas in both the literal and figurative senses of the world, Johns uses his instrument in ways the old rockabilly crowd either didn't think of or didn't dare, and his growl of a voice further asserts his hold on his territory. Put Evan together with the "D.C. Weenies" (members of Mojo Nixon's backing band), turn 'em loose live at the Hole in the Wall, and you've got an act that don't play roots, it chews 'em up and spits 'em out at you. You won't believe, apart from some deficiencies in the vocal realm, that this was recorded on a Sony Walkman. Of course, that may explain why the set is somewhat short - about 38 minutes - the batteries must've run out. This mix of Johns originals and selected chestnuts like "I Wish Your Picture Was You" and "Juvenile Delinquent" is good ol' rock & roll, as nasty as it oughta be, and the bare-bones basics recording style fits it well, as does the between-song patter (or more accurately, chatter). Turn it up loud, and don't forget to tip your waitress.

3.5 stars - Ken Lieck

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