Concert Review: Jessy Carolina and the Hot Mess at Abilene

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Talk about a buzz; there was a big one coming from the Abilene hive Saturday night. I made the scene and wiped the steam off my cheaters to the dulcet tones of the Charlie Mitchell Quartet as it wound up its set by cruising through a creamy rendition of "Autumn Leaves." The group added a warm backdrop to the increasing chit-chat that reverberated off the walls.

Those walls were filled to bursting by the time headliner Jessy Carolina and the Hot Mess piled into its little corner. Teams of swing dancers warmed up and stretched while putting finishing touches on the moves they were soon to bust. Jess and the Mess kicked in and the dancers were off with a whole lot more up and down than side to side on account of there being practically no room to even stand.

The New York City ensemble pumped and wailed in a style that in the 1920's was referred to as "hot music" -- a heady cocktail of Tin Pan Alley, bluegrass, Dixieland and a pervading salaciousness and attitude that rebelled against polite society (namely Prohibition and prudish sexual mores). And man, Carolina can belt. Rubbing her belly board, she sang sweet like Holiday, cute like Boop, and loud as if shot out of a Southern diplomat's bullhorn.

Sadly, it was impossible to fully enjoy the show, as the band seems to have an inordinate number of fans over six feet tall, and who don't know how to shut up. The band was boisterous but frankly not loud enough, resisting the urge to ratchet up the volume. Viewing deficits aside, the band played a fantastic show.

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