The Saddle Tramps
The Saddle Tramps have been a-rockin’ and a-reelin’ locally since 1998, and they’re just as dirty as ever. The band plays high-octane, old-school, “corn-fed” rock ’n’ roll, with twangy guitars and honky tonk energy. If not for the breakneck speeds and the heavy frequency of obscene language, Alabama Chrome, the band’s new album, almost sounds like some lost Sun Records classic from 1955. This isn’t a coincidence because the album was recorded using vintage equipment, including tube mics used to record Elvis Presley.
“Irreverent” is too polite a word to describe the sense of humor found throughout The Saddle Tramps’ lyrics; “filthy” is more like it, or just plain old “offensive.”
“I was shaking like Michael J. Fox in an 8.6 earthquake,” from drug-rehab epic “Houston,” is one of the more family friendly lyrics on the album.
Alabama Chrome—the title is an homage to duct tape—really earns the “parental advisory” sticker on the cover. The opening track is called “Hippie Killer,” and it’s about hunting hippies: “If you want to hunt the mother lode, then Burning Man’s for you, or Boulder, Colorado, where you’re sure to bag a few.”
“Now, we don’t really want to kill hippies,” says bassist and nonstop humor machine “Big John” Von Nolde. “But it is funny. It’s like that old joke, ‘What’s red, orange and looks good on hippies?’ ‘Fire.’”
Other songs on the album include “Side Pipe,” an ode to an erection, and “Dress like Elvis.”
“That’s a song mocking the stereotype of the rockabilly crowd,” says Von Nolde. “Of course … that’s a big part of our audience.”
The Saddle Tramps started as an acoustic duo, just Von Nolde and guitarist Scotty Roller. The duo would mostly play comedy nights, performing stand-up routines and singing their songs. Over the last dozen years, the band has evolved into the fiery electric ensemble it is today, with rollicking drummer Mike “Powder” Young, pyrotechnic guitarist Jon Perry, and go-go dancer and back-up vocalist Suzy Switchblade.
“I’m the Flavor Flav of the group,” says Switchblade. “I’m the hype man. … The guys aren’t much to look at.”
The record release party for Alabama Chrome will be held June 19 at John Ascauga’s Nugget. The show will feature a career-spanning set of songs, including the entirety of Alabama Chrome, and guest musicians, including Rodney Teague of Keyser Soze, and a spoons player.
Attendees of that show will also receive a vinyl copy of the record and a free digital download. The album’s also available on CD and from the usual digital outlets, like iTunes and Amazon. But good luck finding Alabama Chrome at one of the big box stores.
“There’s a song on there about a hard-on,” says Roller. “You’re not going to find that at Walmart.”