Monday, October 07, 2002

Hayseed Dixie wears thin quickly

By Chris Varias
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        As their name vaguely implies, Hayseed Dixie is a bluegrass band playing AC/DC songs. The idea might sound funny, and the beginning of the group's performance at Annie's Friday night was just that. But as is the problem with most any novelty act, the law of diminishing returns kicked in, and what was novel at the start became more and more dull a half-hour, an hour, an hour-and-a-half later.

        Even the men of Hayseed Dixie seemed to concede this. They capped their two-hour show with straight bluegrass tunes, “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow” and “Will the Circle be Unbroken.”

        Most everything else was a cover of a rock song, coming from their albums A Hillbilly Tribute to AC/DC and A Hillbilly Tribute to Mountain Love.

        Barley Scotch, singer and fiddle player for the five-man combo, said of the connection to the heavy-metal band, “We firmly believe Hank Williams' "Lost Highway' and AC/DC's "Highway to Hell' are singing about the same road.”

        And so the crowd of about 300 was treated to versions of “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” “You Shook Me All Night Long,” “Have A Drink on Me” and others played mostly at breakneck speed using standard bluegrass acoustic instrumentation of guitar, bass, banjo, fiddle and mandolin.

        From the Mountain Love set came their version of Aerosmith's “Walk This Way,” chosen, it seems, for Mr. Scotch's appreciation of the line in the song about “lovin' with her sister and her cousin.”

        “Steven Tyler might be from Boston,” he said, referring to Aerosmith's singer and the song's writer, “but it sounds like he's got some hillbilly in him.”

        Cincinnati's Mojo Nixon opened the show. With selections like “Debbie Gibson is Pregnant with My Two-Headed Love Child” in his repertoire, Mr. Nixon can also be labeled a novelty act. But there's a lot more edge to what he does, as illustrated by songs selections with titles like “Drunk Divorced Floozie (The Ballad of Diana Spencer)” and others unfit for a family newspaper.

        He returned to play electric guitar with Hayseed Dixie on both “T.N.T.” and “Moneytalks.” The guitar chord he used was only about four feet long, so he was basically chained to his amplifier, as if he was being punished for plugging in during a bluegrass show.


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- Hayseed Dixie wears thin quickly