Monday, December 7, 2015

Hunchin' with Hasil

No, no that Hazel.

This one.

I'm a little fuzzy on just when and how I found out about Hasil Adkins, the West Virginia wild man who sang songs about hot dogs, cutting the heads off his girlfriends, and doing chicken dances and "hunching," which is a word you might never have heard, but it's synonymous with what most rock singers want to do in their songs, if you catch my drift.

Norton Records issued an Adkins compilation, Out to Hunch, in 1986 but I didn't learn about it until the late '90s.

When I'm unclear about where to give credit for my musical choices, I usually dish it out to college radio. From the spring of 1995 to late 2001, I worked for Webnoize (R.I.P.). During those years, I listened a lot to MIT's radio station, WMBR, and Boston College's station, WZBC, both in the office and in my car on the way in to the office. They can share the credit (blame?).

I was happy when Webnoize West Coast correspondent Mark Lewis told me he was into Hasil Adkins as well. We talked about the crazy redneck rockabilly rebel and nobody else really knew, or cared, to join us.

By some miracle, ol' Hasil played a gig at the original House of Blues, in Harvard Square. He was on a 1999 Fat Possum tour with T-Model Ford; my buddy Jeff and I thoroughly enjoyed that show. I had no idea that Adkins was a one-man band. He ambled onto the stage, his wild mop of white hair stuffed under a floppy hat, sat behind a set of drums, got his guitar on and started wailing away simultaneously on the axe and the kit, while howling away into the microphone.

He flailed at the cymbals with his bare hands and kicked the bass drum, amazingly, in rhythm. He was missing numerous teeth and was most likely drunk. It was, as you can imagine, awesome.

Among the bands to cover Adkins' music are The Cramps and Flat Duo Jets.

I started writing this post a few weeks, but got sidetracked. I might've had a larger purpose in mind, but I think just sharing my love of Hasil Adkins with the world is enough, and will have to do. Of course, if you want to learn more, you might want to check out the movie, "My Blue Star," although I'm unsure whether it's available. Here's the trailer: