Park Avenue bop

The Hillbilly Stomp Tour brings a rockabilly party to the Maltese

Mike Khalil, guitarist for Doug C and the Blacklisted, takes lead as frontman Doug Carrion and bassist Johnny Latu look on.

Mike Khalil, guitarist for Doug C and the Blacklisted, takes lead as frontman Doug Carrion and bassist Johnny Latu look on.


Doug C and the Blacklisted, The Delta Bombers, Aces Over Jacks and

Crosby Tyler,

June 3, Maltese Bar & Tap Room.

Rockabilly is a loosely defined form of American roots music that incorporates elements of bluegrass, western swing, blues, honky-tonk, and most essentially, rock ’n’ roll into a high-energy and often rebellious style that spans decades of rock history. Seminal examples include Elvis Presley’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky” and Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes,” both from the mid-1950s. But the genre made a notable mark in the punk and post-punk eras as well, most notably with The Cramps, Stray Cats and the Reverend Horton Heat.

Last Wednesday evening (June 3), the Maltese Bar & Tap Room hosted the visiting Hillbilly Stomp Tour, featuring one rootsy solo performer and three prime examples of the current crop of rockabilly bands, each offering its own variation on basic themes of rebellion, booze, chicks and fast cars set to the music of upright bass, guitars and (except for headliners Doug C and the Blacklisted) drums.

The evening kicked off with a set by one-man band Crosby Tyler. Self-accompanied on kick drum, guitar and harmonica, and looking a bit like Ichabod Crane dressed in a classic black-and-white-striped prisoner suit, the Dallas musician warmed up the as yet small crowd with what could be termed uplifting bluesy songs of the down-and-out.

Next up, Hermosa Beach “headliners” Doug C and the Blacklisted took the stage for a brief sound check and then launched into a high-velocity country-flavored version of the Nat King Cole standard “Route 66.” Doug C (for Carrion) is a longtime participant in the So-Cal punk scene, having put in time playing and writing songs with such punk luminaries as the Descendents and Dag Nasty, and trippy hip-hop punks Kottonmouth Kings. The Blacklisted are Mike Khalil, picking the Fender Telecaster, and Johnny Latu, slapping the doghouse bass.

Carrion’s rough-edged voice, acoustic guitar and charismatic, upbeat stage banter immediately engaged the mixed crowd of Boozefighter bikers, local musicians, mini-skirted dancers and postcollegiate rockers. But it was Khalil’s dexterous, tasteful and endlessly inventive lead picking that really enhanced and uplifted the songs’ simple chord structures and vocal melodies. Highlights of the all-killer-no-filler set included originals “Thinkin’ and Drivin,’” and the “liquor, women and heartbreak” anthem “Let It Be Me,” which also included a nifty insertion of Hank Garland’s classic “Sugarfoot Rag” that showed off Khalil’s mastery of the classics as well as his own freestyling lead picking.

Continuing the reverse-order lineup, Las Vegas quartet The Delta Bombers loaded the stage with another guitar rig, a set of drums, an electric upright bass, some lumberjack-worthy facial hair and enough tattoo ink to profusely illustrate Huckleberry Finn. Lead singer and rhythm guitarist Chris Moinichen—a gruff-voiced man-mountain decked out in a denim vest—is the kind of frontman who calls for the crowd to get up on the dance floor because, “I don’t want to see you dance. I want to see you get drunk!” A good portion of the crowd complied with this declaration and for the rest of the set the floor in front of the stage became a writhing mass of raised glasses and whoops of approval for lead guitarist Andrew Himmler’s sinewy licks.

Closing out the night, Redding trio Aces Over Jacks brought a ton of energy, volume and hot rhythm to the stage. Guitarist/backing vocalist Sean Cheney, drummer Joey Brunelli and lead singer/standup bassist Greg Gallup incorporated surf, punk and metal elements into their power-chord driven version of rockabilly. It proved just the right mix to keep the folks on the dance floor hoppin’ and those of us holding down the barstools boppin’ on our seats and whooping along till well after midnight.