Damnation, its Sleazefest time again, one last sleazy hurrah before Chapel Hill is retaken by students who have no idea that there's a huge slacker culture that's stayed on way past college age. Started by Southern Culture on the Skids back in the early '90s--long before bands like The Hives and The White Stripes turned garage rock into an above-ground phenomenon--Local 506 has turned a block of Franklin Street into an orgy of trash culture, B-movies (shown in the "sleaze lounge," aka the Sports Bar next door) and raunchy retro tunes for three days every August. While some critics say the sleaze factor has ebbed a bit in recent years--it's been ages since "professionals" graced the go-go cage, for example--the fest is still a party and a chance for the retro-rock underground to meet, reminisce, eat, get their ya-yas out, and rediscover some of rock 'n' roll's less celebrated but fascinating fringe players.
Link Wray, Davie Allen and The Arrows, Ernie "Mother-in-Law" K-Doe and Hasil Adkins have all torn it up at previous throwdowns, along with a roster of rockabilly, surf, garage, and rock 'n' roll. Friday night is headlined by SCOTS, along with the Detroit Cobras, The Woggles and tons more; Saturday features New Jersey garage kings the Swingin' Neckbreakers, probably the best '60s dance band going, and Sunday features the biggest lineup of local talent, with everyone from new wave punks Jett Rink to The Bad Checks, The Loners, The Spinns, Buzzsawyer, Leadfoot, Jimmy & The Teasers, The Dynamite Brothers and esteemed vet Dexter Romweber. As always, there'll be bands at Local 506, the Sleaze Lounge next door, The Cave, and, for the first time, some all-ages performances at The Skylight Exchange (you don't have to be old enough to drink to get your sleaze on).
This year's wild card is Unknown Hinson (pictured above), a guy whose wardrobe is taken straight from Grandpa Munster's crypt. Missing a few teeth and rumored to have done a long stretch in a state pen, Hinson is equal parts Elvis and Zacherly, blending honky-tonk-style C&W with '60s sci-fi, adding a dash of Karloff and plenty of hillbilly braggadoccio. Unknown Hinson sings about "busting outta this atmosphere and hauling ass to Venus" where the "womens" don't talk back, on "Baby, I'm Venus Bound." With an album set to come out on Capitol Records, the deal is said to involve a new Cadillac and paying off Hinson's gambling debts.
Other acts to watch: Milwaukee's Bleed is a deadly blues/garage trio; The 45s; rockabilly acts The Paladins and The Blind Pharaohs; and AC/DC-esque Chicago rockers The Last Vegas. It all happens Friday through Sunday, Aug. 2-4, in Chapel Hill. For tickets and/or schedule info go to the new Local 506 Web site at www.local506.com or call 942-5506. --Angie Carlson