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Smitten by enigmas


It was a dark and stormy night... Well, actually, it was cool and dry when I strolled into a brick wall of heated anticipation and trepidation at Skylark Lounge over yonder on Union Street. The good, the bad, and the ugly had assembled on this otherwise uneventful Thursday evening for the first appearance of Unknown Hinson in Rochester. Plenty of hype preceded this cat and we all wanted to hear something good. Unknown delivered big time.

Whether or not you dig his shtick (and I do), the man is an incredible guitarist. He shoehorns and Frankensteins myriad styles and tones brilliantly. Dressed in black and looking like a cross between Eddie Munster and Tricky Dick Nixon, Hinson assailed and impaled the crowd with Travis-style finger picking, hard blues, western swing, and just good, goddamn rock 'n' roll. It was as if Johnny "Guitar" Watson joined the Cramps for a funeral directors' hootenanny. I was in heaven. I mean hell. Wherever good music goes when it dies, that's where I was.

From one enigma to another, albeit prettier one at the Dinosaur BBQ, where Teressa Wilcox was tearing into a revved-up and soulful turn at "Summertime" like a fat guy on death row goes at a rack of ribs. I say Wilcox is enigmatic because the way she carries herself offstage belies the funky hellcat she is on the bandstand. You know Lucinda Williams' song "Joy"? Maybe you're more familiar with Bettye LaVette's version. Well, guess what children? There's a third take on the song, and it rocks. Wilcox tore up the tune (and the remaining ones in her set, for that matter), percussively chopping chords on her big white guitar while her band kept it high and tight. I particularly dug the organ. And I dug Wilcox's mixed signals. It's not that she's two people or anything. It's just that when someone plays that hot and nasty, you don't expect them to be so sweet.