I’ve had more than my fair share of hillbilly / redneck experiences in this last week – must be something in the air.
Jerry Springer – The Opera
At the start of the week we treated ourselves to a night at the opera; ‘Jerry Springer – The Opera’, to be precise. It’s had quite a bit of press about some of its content and indeed, the local holy Joes were out in force with leaflets condemning us all to hell for even setting eyes on it. But really, what a great show! It’s probably closer to rock-opera than plain opera, but the very sound of trained opera singers belting out a string of obscenities is worth the ticket price alone. Add to that the fact that the content of your average Jerry Springer-type show is EXACTLY the sort of stuff that makes for all the best operas (yes Puccini and Verdi may be more high-brow, but they’re writing about THE SAME STUFF) – adultery, murder, cross-dressing, journeys to Hell – it’s all here.
As for the content the moaning Minnies are upset about, it’s pretty tame stuff, and in fact most of what they’re shouting about isn’t even true (big surprise, there). Yes, they do a Jerry Springer show in Hell, with various biblical personalities including Jesus and God included, but it’s looking at the battle between good and evil, the grey area in-between, and acheiving some kind of balance. It’s more about the issues, values and choices that most religions claim to be about (basically be nice to each other), rather than the figureheads that organised religions end up concentrating on. And no – they don’t have Jesus wearing a nappy.
So if you’re not easily offended (by swear words – a lot of them – or the use of religious figures to tell a moral [kind of] tale) then I’d thoroughly recommend seeing this show. It is ‘fall-off-your-seat’ funny, with plenty of memorable songs – lines like “Dip me in chocolate and feed me to the lesbians”, a coherent plot and a Zappaesque sense of humour. There’s a trailer here.
I’m no great fan of AC/DC, nor of bluegrass music particularly, but when I was offered a ticket to see a band playing AC/DC in a bluegrass style, I just had to know more. These guys can play – guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle and bass – pretty much as well as any bluegrass band I’ve heard (not that many, admittedly), including a pretty nifty version of ‘Duelling Banjos’ from ‘Deliverance’ in their setlist.
You’ve just got to smile when they kick into ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ or ‘Highway to Hell’ whilst dressed in authentic(ish) hillbilly gear and singing with that mountain-man drawl. It’s an assault on the senses – 2 hours of high-octane (moonshine) finger-pickin’ acoustic rock, but somehow it works. It really shouldn’t, and yet it is disturbing how easily AC/DC (and other rockers like Aerosmith and Motorhead) translates into bluegrass, and the original version of ‘Ace of Spades’ sounds like a laid-back ballad compared to the speed these guys take it at.
Certainly not everybody’s cup of tea, not even mine really, but definitely an entertaining night out and a must-see for lovers of heavy rock (especially AC/DC) wanting to try something new. Have a look here for more info, including a video clip of ‘Ace of Spades’.