Yes, we have no bananas. Ain’t got no whiskey neither, just can’t seem to keep it in stock around here. But we got somethin’ for you today that’s bettern’ a Jack Daniels banana smoothie. Introducing Whiskey Chimp, the bastard hybrid spawn of Split Lip Rayfield, The Gourds, and the Ramones. Scared? You should be.
We mean that in a good way! We caught Whiskey Chimp’s outrageously entertaining stage show last night at a tiny new venue just outside Paso Robles, CA called Monteleone’s Rock. The seven members that make up the Chimp bring many years of performing experience to the band, skillfully combining elements of bluegrass, punk, rockabilly, Cajun, swing, and Klezmer to create a spicy stew of wild ripping solos, slapping bass and tight harmonies. It was a crazy yuppie-cowtown evening that started out with a parking-lot BBQ and fiddle jam and peaked with whirling dancers, standing ovations and free grilled cheese sandwiches that just kept coming. And when you’re drinking, what’s better than a grilled cheese sandwich with your irreverent bluegrass?
Whiskey Chimp has emerged in the last couple years from the retro-classic biker beach town of Ventura, California. We don’t follow the punk scene here at Fiddlefreak, but apparently several band members play or have played in local punk and rockabilly outfits. Banjo player Chris Cairns is known for his stint with bluegrassers Wild Sage as well as his solo work. Dobro and accordion master Bill Flores is a veteran of The Tatters and the Rincon Ramblers. Front men Stanley Gonzalez and Cory Scrivner play baritone uke and guitar, respectively, if not respectfully. Fiddler Mark Parson saws like madman and sings like his life depends on it, and his onstage banter displays a dry, Pythonesque wit that had us rolling in the aisles. Brent Harding slaps the bass fiddle, and Toby Emery picks and strums the mandolin. All together, the seven pickers of the Chimp mind-meld into a fat wall of sound that would be just as comfy in a gypsy jazz joint as in the sweaty social hall of a Ponchartrain parish. And the harmonies? Not a sour note all evening.
If you find yourself in Paso, after a day of wine tasting or touring Hearst Castle, look up Monteleone’s and go say hello to fiddler-grillmeister-proprietor Noel and his son Zane. They’ve been booking some kick acts and plan to keep on doing so. And keep on eye out for Whiskey Chimp, seven deadly sons who are bound for glory, or Hell in a handbasket. Either way, it’s sure to be a fun ride.