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Big Sleazy 

Vets of the annual festival remember the high (and low) lights

Started 11 years ago by the members of Southern Culture on the Skids, Sleazefest is a multi-night affair celebrating loud, rugged rock 'n' roll from rockabilly to garage. But more than that, it revels in the uninhibited, hair-down energy of rock. People sometimes say a performance was a "party," but nothing quite captures its crazy, devil-may-care attitude. This year Sleazefest is dedicated to the memory of Hasil Adkins, the idiosyncratic, backwoods rockabilly guitarist and one-man band who played the very first Sleazefest in 1994. We asked some people who have been involved for several years to share their thoughts on Sleazefest and Hasil Adkins.

What is Sleazefest?
"Sleazefest basically started because whenever we would play in town with these bands like The Woggles or The Hatebombs, the place would be packed and everyone would love them, but when they'd come back later and play a show on their own there would be 10 people there, if we were lucky. We were like, 'What can we do?' We decided to have all these bands come at one time and have a festival. To this day, Chapel Hill's more of an indie rock town than anything else. It took naked girls in cages to really get people out." --Dave Hartman, drummer, Southern Culture on the Skids

"I think the era it represents has come and gone, sadly--the '60s dancehalls and the burlesque queens, the go-go chicks. The amazing clothing. It's a bit of paying homage to that--the incredible sexy clothes that the women wore in '63 and the really intense dance music. It's a throwback to a sexier era." --Dexter Romweber, who'll be playing in The New Romans at Sleazefest

Memories of Hasil
"The reason he was a one-man band was because he heard the radio, and he thought the guy singing was playing everything, too. They'd say that was Elvis, and he thought it was just Elvis doing everything. So he learned how to do everything at once. He was just trying to recreate what he heard on the radio." --Dave Schmitt, soundman, Sleazefest

"We were in Atlanta, and he saw that we got girls on stage so he decided he wanted to do that. So he was trying to get girls up there, and went back and forth between 'She Said' and 'Boo-Boo the Cat.' After a while he'd stop one and go into the other. When that didn't work, he'd go back to the first one. Meanwhile, he would throw his guitar in the air and kick over the drum ... Rick would run out and pick up his guitar and try to retune it while I would reset the drums. We were like ball boys at the U.S. Open, running out several times a song."--Dave Hartman

"He had a couple ladies hanging off of him--strong-backed, stout mountain women--and they were taking care of Hasil, his dietary needs, cooking up breakfast. They were frying those eggs, but they didn't need to turn them over to cook the tops. There was so much bacon grease in that skillet, just looking at it almost made my heart stop." --Manfred Jones, singer, The Woggles

"I went to visit Hasil in West Virginia because Dexter wanted to meet him. They hit it off, speaking the same language. He was pretty impressed with Dexter and they jammed together on a couple of things. We went to visit his neighbor's house, which was a trailer. The first thing we hear is his wife, who's 4'11", screaming that she's goin' to kill him and she has a knife in her hand. And that was for openers. The kids are running around wild. The place is a cross between Deliverance and Blue Velvet. The way he was raised in the mountains was as primitive as you think it was, but where he was from he was a pretty smooth operator. There, he's Alistair Cooke." --Dave Schmitt

Favorite Sleazefest Moment
"I think of [the since deceased] Eddie Singletary, who was sort of the first Sleazefest cook and did a lot of road managing for S.C.O.T.S. One year, he was with me when we had a big tub of barbecue sauce and got people to get on stage and go for a total conversion: Bar-B-Q Baptism." --Manfred Jones

"One of my favorite memories was when Southern Culture hired a male stripper. He came in dressed like a cop and tried to shut down the show. We had lost power that year and had to start late, so S.C.O.T.S. wasn't going on until like 3:30 a.m. I had already talked to the cops and OK'd it with them, and then this clown came in dressed like a cop and was like, 'Hold it. The show is over.' I got pissed until he started taking off his uniform, and I was like 'Woah!'" --Dave Robertson, master of ceremonies, Sleazefest

"There was this girl Ginger go-go dancing in the cage during our set, and she was only wearing Sleazefest bumper stickers, which were slowly being peeled off. She didn't seem very concerned." --Manfred Jones

"There were police out the back door and I was worried, but they gave her these little blue stickers about as big as a 50-cent piece that said 'Property of Chapel Hill Police Department' that she put over her nipples." --Dave Hartman

"There was a photographer that Southern Culture hired that basically did nude portraits up there on the roof. So we got a lot of locals and musicians and convinced them to peel off their clothes and do nude shots." --Mr. Mouse, owner, The Cave

Favorite Sleazefest Performance
"One was The 45s were playing 'Under My Thumb' by The Stones in an incredibly manic way. The other one was the Detroit Cobras. I turned to a friend and said, 'The reason they're so great is that they're as hedonistic as their audience.'" --Dexter Romweber

"Four years ago when the power went out at Local 506, The 45s did an impromptu show at The Cave around 8 p.m., and the place got jam packed. That was the first time I had actually seen The 45s, and they rocked The Cave. It was one night that we made more money at Sleazefest than any other year, so I keep thinking about knocking out the power again at 506." --Mr. Mouse

Sleaze Schedule
Friday
Local 506: Ironhead, Snatches of Pink, Tiger Tiger!, Bloodshot Bill, Hatebombs, Dexter Romweber, The Woggles, S.C.O.T.S.

The Cave: Malamondos, Labiators, Chrome Plated Apostles, The Candy Snatchers

Saturday
Local 506: Dropdead Sons, Thee Lordly Serpents, Mondo Topless, Konks, The Cherry Valence, Demolition Doll Rods, Gore Gore Girls, Paybacks

The Cave: Bloodshot Bill, Sin Eaters, The Lobsters, The Spinns

Sleazy Sunday
Local 506: After party with Taz Halloween and Fake Sweedish

  • Vets of the annual festival remember the high (and low) lights

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