MUSIC BOX: ‘Sodapop’ riffs for rockabilly

By on December 2, 2014

Wyatt “Sodapop” Lowe’s new band lineup comes with a new name, The Mayhem Kings. COURTESY WYATT LOWE

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Though Wyatt “Sodapop” Lowe is still in his teens, hearing him croon a vintage ’50s rockabilly cut while wailing on a classic Gretsch electric guitar would lead you to believe he has been a performing bandleader for decades. Lowe was born and raised in the blues at Chappy’s Roadhouse, his family’s barbecue restaurant in Temecula, California. At a young age, Lowe would stand at the edge of the stage and watch the best regional Southern Cali blues players perform. The next day, he could be found at home in front of the mirror, harp in one hand and a “play” guitar in the other. At the age of eight, he began guitar lessons and his true musical passion was found. Slowly, he developed his signature tone — a punchy crossover between traditional rockabilly, blues and roots-rock, approaching a Social Distortion-meets-Jimmie Vaughan sound.

Since moving to Jackson with his family in 2013, Lowe has put together a rotating cadre of solid musicians to form a well-rounded quartet, regularly performing at Haydens Post and The Rose. His latest incarnation, Wyatt Lowe and the Mayhem Kings, includes upright bassist Marty Camino, drummer Pete Closson and Jason Fritts on sax. All three of Lowe’s bandmates hold music degrees — Camino has an undergraduate degree from the University of Wyoming and a master’s degree from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland; Closson received his music degree from Eastern Michigan University, where he also did his graduate work in percussion performance; and Fritts studied saxophone at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, as well as at Northwestern University, where he earned his master’s in music.

Get ready for a blast of Freddy King, The Blasters, Duane Eddy and John Lee Hooker.

Wyatt Lowe and the Mayhem Kings, 10 p.m. on Saturday at The Rose. Free. 733-1500.

Smith Optics brings free ski gear, Sublime tribute band

The annual Smith Optics party has become known for its low cost of entry and deep bag of freebies (last year, more than $5,000 worth of goods such as goggles, helmets and buffs were handed out). Despite a higher price at the door this year ($12), there’s a quality cover band along with two local DJs, so the stoke is high for the chance to take home some ski gear.

“Back in the day, everybody used to look forward to the 69 Days until the Tram Opens Party as the ultimate buildup to ski season,” said local snowboarder Julio Jones. “The Locals’ Appreciation Party [last weekend], and the Smith party are where it’s at now.”

Tribute bands seem to be a dime a dozen these days, though when the bands are performing in theaters rather than bars, its usually worth paying a little more attention. 40 oz to Freedom has a legit, Sublime-esque sound that seems to showcase the group’s own skills rather than play every song note-for-note straight off of the albums. Lead vocalist and lead guitarist Dane Scott is a six-time San Diego Award nominee capable of extended, interesting solos, and the band as a whole is onboard for improvisations exploring rock, reggae and hip-hop. While original Sublime frontman Bradley Nowell was a skilled guitarist, face-melting guitar leads weren’t really his forte. The band was known, rather, for a pop-hooked, Southern Cali blend of rock, reggae and ska.

40 oz to Freedom is also known to go beyond the Sublime songbook into other territory, covering U2, Men at Work, Bob Marley and others.

Smith Is Givin’ Back Party with Sublime tribute band 40 oz to Freedom plus DJs Cut La Whut and ERA, 9 p.m. on Friday at Pink Garter Theatre. $12.

About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

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