NXNE rocks again

Rating: NNNNNWith the added thud of Houston's Bozo Porno Circus leaking down though the El Mocambo ceiling, there was little.

Rating: NNNNN

With the added thud of Houston’s Bozo Porno Circus leaking down though the El Mocambo ceiling, there was little hope of Austin’s whispering Super XX Man being heard by anyone but himself in the noisy downstairs bar.

What might’ve been a wholly entrancing performance in the intimate setting of the Free Times Cafe was completely lost in the NXNE chatter about whether to hang around to see if Café ïne were really worth the hype or to check the Comfort Zone to see who was taking the slot of the missing Obie Trice.

The gamble on running instead to Chicago’s for the end of R.B. Morris’s improvisational beat-folk getdown turned up aces.

When I got there, the Knoxville golden boy was so deep into riffing on Robert Mitchum’s chain-gang credentials that not even bar staff cutting between him and Nashville session slinger Will Kimbrough could shake his rhythm as he barrelled into The Ballad Of Thunder Road for a rip-roaring closer.

There was no time for handshaking formalities afterward. Morris and I both knew we’d be fools to miss a minute of Neko Case and Carolyn Mark’s Corn Sisters harmony hoot down the block at the Horseshoe.

Even without their trademark tap shoes, the unrehearsed cob cuties put on a charming exhibition of impromptu comedy and molasses-sweet singing that held the shoulder-to-shoulder horde silently rapt.

Secretly, the members of Vancouver’s Riff Randells probably knew they didn’t have a hope in hell of topping the spontaneous audience sing-alongs, but the snappy thrash-pop foursome gave it a shot anyway.

Shaded drum-basher Anne-Marie Rawk held together the cartoony frolic of her fembotic rhythm mates with steely determination, while wired frontman Sean Raggett bounced around like a toy terrier on hot asphalt. The matching “R” shirts were a nifty touch, but they were clearly out-corned.

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