First/Last-The Highballers

July 18, 2012

“The Highballers have been spinning heads for years with buttery sweet harmonies that meld perfectly with the hard twang of Fender telecasters. The Washington, DC alt country band taps into musicians like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and The Knitters. Singers Victoria Patchen and Kendall Jackson are reminiscent of classic duos Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, and Exene Cervenka and John Doe. The band does not fit into the tame, harmless pop mold fabricated by the corporate pop music industry that most people associate with country music. The Highballers have a long list of country and Americana influences along with rock, punk and indie. Recently, the band finished their first EP and will release a full album of originals in July 2012.”

The band returns to Pittsburgh tomorrow night at the Pub sharing a bill with The Allegheny Rhythm Rangers and the reunion of Teen Riot. My thanks to Kendall “Kenny Paul” Jackson (Guitar/Vocals) and Sean Lally (Guitar) for participating in this edition of First/Last.

  • The first album you ever bought?
  • Kendall “Kenny Paul” Jackson: Kenny Rogers, “The Gambler”. I was a wee lad, though I am not defending my decision. That record holds up, sorta. I was listening to some tracks today and we may need to work out a cover of Tennessee Bottle.
  • Sean Lally: First 45: “Billy Don’t Be a Hero”, Bo Donaldson and The Heywoods. Still one of the greatest singles ever.
  • Your last album bought?
  • Kendall: Jim Lauderdale, “Reason and Rhyme”. I’m not really a bluegrass guy or a Dead Head, but Jim Lauderdale and Robert Hunter are two of the finest song writers I have ever heard and this record is smokin’.
  • Sean: Nothing new, per se, but I did just find an unopened copy of the first LP by the great Pink Slip Daddy!
  • Favorite album of all time?
  • Kendall: I gotta go with Waylon Jennings, “Honky Tonk Heroes”. The seventies brought back the adjectives funky and rockin’ to country, and this record may have been the leader of this movement. Plus, Waylon gave Chet Atkins the bird and the boot when Chet tried to nix the project early on. A close second is Gram Parsons first solo record “GP”. He was the shit.
  • Sean: Easy, “The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society”.
  • Least favorite/most disappointing album?
  • Kendall: Long list here, but I’ll go with The Highwaymen, all 3 records. How can you put Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings together and produce such a series of dog turds.
  • Sean: Tough call. I LOVE Danny Gatton, but his records just don’t do him justice, other than some early rockabilly recordings with Johnny Seaton.
  • First concert attended?
  • Kendall: Wet Willie in Hammond, Louisiana. To this day, that was the loudest effin’ concert I have ever attended, and I’ve seen the Super Suckers, The Dictators and Guided by Voices many times. They are quiet in comparison to Wet Willie. Of course I was only freaking ten years old at the time, but it sticks with me.
  • Sean: Sonny and Cher. And KISS a few years later. That sums it all up for me.
  • Last concert?
  • Kendall: I saw John Doe on his most recent tour, and saw a wicked good, almost all chick punk band from Baltimore on Saturday night called Big Mouth.
  • Sean: Los Straitjackets, as a concert. I did just see my friend’s band, The Honest Mistakes, and they were awesome.
  • Favorite concert ever?
  • Kendall: Again, not a Dead Head, but I saw The Grateful Dead in New Orleans back in the 90’s. Holy shit, what an experience. Front row. To this day I still don’t know what was freakier, the concert or the parking lot, but I know it sticks in my brain to this day like a tab of orange sunshine sticks to your tongue.
  • Sean: Too many to list. The Young Fresh Fellows never disappointed. Same with NRBQ, Nick Cave, The Pogues, Fastbacks, Belle and Sebastian. All great, great shows.
  • Least favorite concert?
  • Kendall: Rolling Stones, Superdome. Top row. Mick looked like an ant and it sounded like, well, a concert in the damn Superdome. I paid a shitload for the ticket and my date was so loaded that she puked the entire time.
  • Sean: Fountains of Wayne. They packed the place and gave a totally lackluster performance. Lame.
  • Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
  • Kendall: The first time I left Louisiana was when I moved to Cleveland in the 90’s. I was amazed at the number of bands from the rust belt playing all kinds of cool music. One of the ones I saw first were a Pittsburgh act called The Mount McKinleys. Really? A dude playing a theremin in a band? Rock and freaking roll. Then I saw The Frampton Brothers, another Pittsburgh act, and was really wowed by the energy and creativity of the Midwest music scene (Oddly enough, Sean Lally, Highballers guitarist extraordinaire, was a Frampton Brother). Other than getting lost every time I drive through the city (so many bridges!), I have never had a bad time there and am stoked that we are bringing our raucous act to Iron City!
  • Sean: Lived here for 20 years. My job turned cruddy, so I went in search of a new workplace. Found it in Baltimore, and found the greatest country band of all time, The HighBallers! Otherwise, Pgh is a great town. I think I’ve played about 500 gigs there, mostly with my old bands (Frampton Brothers, Legion ofIncredibly Strange Superheroes, Teen Riot), but most were only so-so. Tough town to play. Most shows start way too late.

Thanks, guys. Always nice to here someone from Pittsburgh is in an out of town band and you are so right Sean, shows seem to start WAY too late for me.