Swaggering, Strutting Texas Hunks
"Five young swaggering, strutting Texas hunks playing the shit out of rock & roll."
That's how David Garza remembers the band Pariah, a pungent description echoed by those who remember their glory days as Austin's premier hard rock band. The SIMS Benefit Bash this Saturday, Dec. 11, at the Austin Music Hall will pay tribute to the late-1980s/early-1990s quintet. E-mailing from a truckstop while on the road in Louisiana, Garza, who is the benefit's musical director, reveled in his own memories.
"Pariah laid down the framework for post hair-band metal in Austin. There would be no the Sword or Red River gutter punk without Pariah. They had it all: native son/golden god screecher frontman, two-headed dog/Siamese twin evil guitars, thunder heart drum and bass.
"Dave Derrick had no cheeky wink-wink smugness. He was soul on the sleeve and balls to the wall. Jared [Tuten] and Kyle [Ellison] were cosmic metal weavers with the charisma and ease of a mid-1970s Keith and Ronnie. Shandon [Sahm] was pure power: unshakable and funky before the mechanization of rock in the mid-1990s, a human amphetamine.
"And Sims was that sweetheart and dharma energy, like Montgomery Clift crossed with Ronnie Lane. Pariah could have only happened once."
Sims, of course, is Sims Ellison, namesake of the SIMS Foundation, a beloved guitarist who lost his lifelong battle with depression and committed suicide in 1995. After writer Michael Corcoran suggested that Ellison's memory could be honored by helping others, the organization took shape and shifted many times over the years before settling. Thanks to Jody Denberg, KGSR began donating the proceeds from its annual Broadcasts CD series to the SIMS Foundation. By paying tribute to Pariah, the lineup for this weekend's SIMS Benefit Bash is as much about the foundation's namesake as it is about supporting the organization.
Garza joked that between Brownout and Eliza Gilkyson, "the lineup needs therapy – it has a split personality!" He's not kidding. Performers also include maestro Peter Bay, Ian McLagan & the Bump Band, Brannen Temple, Amy Cook, Graham Reynolds, Will Sexton, Don Harvey, George Reiff, Kat Edmondson, Ruby Jane, Lauren Larson, and the SIMS Septet with David Garza, in addition to a Pariah tribute.
For more than a dozen years, the KGSR check presentation to the SIMS Foundation has been an integral part of the Austin Music Awards. More personally, Sims Ellison was a friend of mine and even wrote for the Chronicle, so when SIMS approached me about sharing emcee duties with Denberg for this show, I couldn't refuse.