Review and photos by Sarah Spencer.
The reigning King of Country Western Troubadours, Unknown Hinson, returned to Little Rock’s Juanita’s Friday May 7 with his explosive mix of alternative country-western metal and psychobilly sound. The opening band for the evening, The Crumbs, an Arkansas based band, is an enjoyable all-stringed quintet and a true traditional bluegrass band in that there is no drummer. Their version of The Talking Heads song “Psycho Killer” was a fun crowd-pleaser and was also their only cover song of the night. The rest of their nearly one hour performance included original tunes “What Does the Deep Sea Say?,” “Ole Slew Foot” and “How Mountain Girls,” in which each artist and their instrument were prominently featured in a successive order. Instruments used were a fiddle, banjo, upright bass, mandolin, Dobro guitar and washboard. All members of The Crumbs sang.
It was almost 11:00 p.m. when Unknown Hinson and his band came out to greet their fans and start the show. His theatrical stage presence included his signature look of drawn on eyebrows and blacking out his teeth except for his two lower incisors. Missing, however, were his jet black lamb chops, black string tie, and any embellishments on his vintage black tuxedo jacket. Although he was not fully decked out in his Unknown Hinson alter-ego garb, that in no way took away from the musical performance and electric guitar playing of this seasoned musician. The talent of his steel guitar picking absolutely blew my mind and melted my face. I’ve never seen fingers dance the way his did over his new, custom made, all black semi-hollow body electric and believed to be a G & L custom shop with his signature face on the headstock, not to mention the cute little bats down the neck of the instrument.
Unknown Hinson’s band consists of the skillful and gracious, Mike “Bubba” Bruce on a Ludwig Classic Maple drum set and the stylish Roger “Tiny” Kohrs on bass guitar. Both men not only blended well with Unknown Hinson’s lyrical genius and electric guitar, but also complimented the look by both wearing a vintage black suit, a black tie and a white shirt. Unknown Hinson started his set with “Silver Platter,” a hard hitting, fast-tempo, lust declaration to his “womern” where love don’t matter. During “Lingerie” he urged the ladies to throw away their muumuu’s to save their marriages, but all I could think of was wishing I had brought lingerie to throw on the stage for him. He dedicated my new favorite song, “Ugly Things,” a song about love gone bad, to all the married couples in the audience. Love gone bad seems to be a reoccurring theme in Unknown Hinson’s chart-topping hits. His honky-tonk rendition of the song made famous by the Bobby Fuller Four and often covered “I Fought the Law” brought back memories of listening to the radio with my dad and also emphasized the era of music in which Unknown Hinson is influenced by. The King of Country Western Troubadours is also notably influenced by the late Faron Young, the original “Hillbilly Heartthrob” and the late gun-slinging Marty Robbins and his cowboy ballads. Although Hinson claims “Rock and Roll is Straight From Hell,” his electric rock and roll metal mirrors the late Jimmy Hendrix psychedelic sound. Unknown Hinson says to be “ever womern’s dream and ever jealous husband’s nightmare.” I’m not sure how he does it exactly but he had me absolutely convinced of that by the end of the night.
Set list included but is not limited to