A lot of people say the same thing about The Black Crabs. "You guys
don't sound like anybody else."
Sure, there's some rockabilly in there, and some rock and roll too.
But there's also swing, jazz, and even a taste of spaghetti western.
It's a refreshing update to the "authentic reproduction" approach of
the rockabilly genre. Their second release, 13 Times, is a case in point.
The band moves smoothly from the straight-ahead rockabilly sound of
Say Mama to the swinging duet Messin' Around. They deftly navigate the
Les Paul-eqsue instrumental Caravan. There's even the tune best heard
under the Big Top, both because of its country-circus beat and subject
matter (quite possibly the first ever song about corndogs). And when's
the last time you heard a washing machine as a kick drum? Check out
the hidden track. This mix of genres comes naturally to The Black Crabs.
Jonathan Stuart, Tom Forster Jr., and Kirsten Ballweg are experienced
musicians and have played with a variety of groups come-60s girl garage
(The Hot Rollers), roots (Footstompin' Trio), melodic pop (Nobody Home),
and, of course, swing and rockabilly (The Donettes, New York Jimmy and
the Jive Five). Originally formed to back Rockabilly Queen Wanda Jackson,
the band was supposed to be only a summer fling. Instead, it transformed
into a full-time proposition. Since touring with Wanda in 2004, the
Black Crabs have toured the West Coast and Europe - Belgium, Holland,
Luxembourg, and Italy. The Trio has played various festivals including;
KEXP's Rockabilly Ball (Seattle) 2005-2008, Bumbershoot (Seattle), The
Folk Life Festival (Seattle), International Beer Festival , Issaquah
Salmon Days, KSER's Rockabilly Revival, the Summer Jamboree (Italy),
Viva Las Vegas (Las Vegas), Hemsby (England) and The Rockin Fifties
Fest (Green Bay, Wisconsin).Their first CD"Blast Off"was released
in 2005 on Ravenous Records.
of 13 Times from Blue Suede News issue #85
Seattle's Black Crabs are back with their second release
that features a handful of favorites from their dynamic live shows and
some fine new tunes. There's Gene Vincent's rocker"Say Mama"
that won't let you sit still and the atmospheric stroll "Three
Cool Cats", a rare Coasters' cover (B side of "Charlie Brown")
that was also in the Beatles' early repertoire, written by Lieber and
Stoller. The only other vintage piece is Duke Ellington's "Caravan"
a cool drums and guitar lead instrumental with an oriental vibe. Lead
singer Johnny 7 shows off his guitar mastery and doubles on piano here
- great version! The remaining ten tracks are Jonathan Stuart's own,
they are witty and fun, sometimes suggestive and always hip and off
the beaten path. "Messin' Around" is a fun duet with upright
bass player Kirsten Ballweg that builds upon a 1920s/30s ragtimey feel.
And "Corndog" you have to hear for yourself, oh yeah, and
wait for the hidden "Robot Love". While the Black Crabs' music
is rooted in 50's Rock'n'Roll and Rockabilly with a small peppering
of Blues, Country, and Swing, their approach is nothing but contemporary,
a compelling recipe.