Thursday, May 15, at the Grand Emporium.

Reverend Horton Heat 

Thursday, May 15, at the Grand Emporium.

The Grateful Dead, having performed about 3,000 shows during its career, is considered the consummate touring band. Truth is, though, that group's got nothing on Reverend Horton Heat. "I've heard the Dead hold some kind of record, but we've been averaging something like 220 shows a year since 1986," says the Reverend, aka Jim Heath. "You can do the math, but I think we've blown past 'em." He's right, and all that touring has made the punkabilly trio (rounded out by manic stand-up bassist Jimbo Wallace and drummer Scott Churilla) one of the tightest and most reliably thrilling acts in the biz. It's allowed the group to pack houses for nearly two decades, even if its seven scorching studio albums -- the most recent being last year's incendiary Lucky 7 -- haven't exactly set the nation's cash registers on fire. Six years ago, when rockabilly and swing were in vogue, it seemed almost criminal that the trio's full-throttle performances and smokin' songs didn't translate into multiplatinum success. In hindsight, it was a blessing; most of the acts that prospered then have since been relegated to tired-shtick status. The group's members were never really part of that club anyway -- Heath and his cohorts have long undermined their roots-based platform with punk and metal riffage and sordid menace, their dark style more suitable for a sketchy pool hall on the outskirts of town than for a yuppie's retro-themed birthday party.

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