Rockabilly invokes images of hot rods and high times. And sure enough, engines rev and bottles drain on Whiskey Kill's new album "Wrecker." But the rockabilly barrels along some twisted roads as well. There's the dark, Pete Rose-inspired "Charlie Hustle," and cautionary "Nickels and Dimes" drawn from stories of Chuck Berry dealing with unscrupulous promoters.
Sonically, too, Whiskey Kill spices up the raw rockabilly with a touch of blues on "Big Daddy" and accordion riffs on "Chainsaw Steve."
"We purposefully mix in some influences of other genres. We don't won't to get bored," says Whiskey Kill front man Tom Ferry.
Whiskey Kill celebrates the release of "Wrecker" on Saturday, April 13, at the Rockabilly Spring Fling happening at the Midway Cafe, 3496 Washington St., Jamaica Plain. The show starts at 8 p.m. Johnny Carlevale and the Juke Joint Rhythm Rockers, Leah and Her Jaywalkers, and DJ Easy Ed will also be performing.
Ferry may like to branch out, but he's not about to abandon the fundamentals of rumbling rhythms and twanging guitars; rockabilly, after all, provided him with some musical salvation.
The way he tells it, Ferry was playing a grungy brand of hard rock around New Hampshire when he came across an Uncle Tupelo record.
"Not to sound cliched, but that changed everything for me. I looked more into independent music and got away from the sound of commercial radio," he says. "I got into different roots music like bluegrass and rockabilly."
Ferry developed his roots chops playing in a few bands, including the Molenes, before forming Whiskey Kill and releasing an album with that band in 2011. While more of an alt-country record, that debut also contained "Better Man," a rollicking rockabilly tune that became the band's most popular number.
"People really dug that, so we said, 'OK, let's do more of that,'" says Ferry.
In addition to having John Cortes on guitar, Jose Solorzano on bass, and Mike Demers on drums, Whiskey Kill has a lyricist in general manager Elissa Williamson.
"She's a great writer," Ferry says. "We like to tell stories in the songs, and she has great stories."
Together they tell stories on "Wrecker" that stick like flies to the windshield. Here's a little sample:
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