--> Syntax - Issue 3 - Mean Eyed Cats

All photos courtesy of City Rat Photo

If you need a reason to fall in love, I can give it to you in three words: Mean Eyed Cats.

With a raw blend of cultivated artistry - from their developed musicianship and flashy showmanship, the Mean Eyed Cats are a spectacle worth canceling any previous engagement to get out and see (Fat City, November 5; The Skylark Lounge, November 11). A high-energy rockabilly band from Denver, Mean Eyed Cats lean on some honky-tonk and 60's surf to round-out their alluring sound and presence.

They're quite the spectacle. From their eccentric and captivating singer Kerry Pastine who swings, sways and calls out to her boys - to Jimmy "Slappin Daddy" Kolodziej, formerly of The Hillbilly Hellcats on bass, and guitarist Bobby "Rockinbones" Smith of L.A. band Jumpin Jimes out front, with their slick licks and pounding lines - they are a show in themselves. In the tradition that Mean Eyed Cats are so much a part of, Kolodziej's stand-up bass (with a custom hot rod paint job) becomes more than an instrument. It becomes a Vegas sideshow: Routinely Kolodziej flouts his craftsmanship by twirling his bass in mid-song; and again laying on his back. And then Smith jumps on. And the two go round and round, to a rousing applause from the audience.

Singing, swinging, dancing and drinking they are.

Mean Eyed Cats, as is somewhat traditional in the style of the rockabilly/honky tonk scene, are a collage of musicians. All the bandmates play elsewhere. GT, the Mean Eyed Cats drummer, also heads-up his own outfit, GT and the Sidewinders - where he plays guitar and leads out in front. Smith and Kolodziej have other gigs, some of which, (mostly previous bands) were very successful and lead to them playing as full time musicians.

Entrenched in a niche that goes undetected by the mainstream, Mean Eyed Cats are a particular brand of rockabilly, however. As the rockabilly scene has been typically dominated by men on the vocals, Mean Eyed Cats bring another component out to stage center. This component is all too obvious. For apart from the great presence of the rest of the entire band, it's Kerry Pastine's throaty renditions of Patsy Cline, her loud dresses and adorable bop that make her the center of the act. Truly adorable and fun, you are sure to find four letters for her.

As I said, if you need a reason to fall in love…

Owing its roots to the old honky tonk and western scene, rockabilly music is a particular blend of rock and hillbilly music. It engages a very loyal following. And at any rockabilly show at the select venues around town you are bound to find the most genuine, nice, loyal and hardworking bunch, anywhere. A blue-collar mentality, the rockabilly scene is one that embraces the 1940's and 50's notions of hard work. Of car culture. Of motorcycle culture.

And man can they dance. Out on the floor you are sure to find dresses twirling, feet kicking and people swinging to the sounds of an entire culture, not just a brand of music.

And the music, well… If you've never been to a show - it's a spectacle that you don't want to miss. Hard, large, pounding slap-style bass, coupled with the idiosyncratic rockabilly guitar chops, to the Jerry Lee Lewis' style of piano that Gary Suydam rocks - I guarantee that you will walk away smiling. The Mean Eyed Cats, along with their contemporaries in this particular rockabilly and honky tonk culture, are something worth appreciating and relishing in.