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Sat., 20 December 1997
by Larry Shell - (
Rockabilly Hall of Fame staff reporter
Photos by Josh Lewis (

One of my all time favorite bands, The Blasters. played Tramps in New York City on December 19th. They were amazing, it was truly a show to remember. I got there around 8:30 for the 8pm show to find the first band hadn't gone on yet and the place was pretty empty. They did have a limited amount of tables set up and I had a perfect view at the left side of the stage. Saw Billy Davis, fellow RAB lister & editor of the Blasters Newsletter, and went over to say hello. He was talking to John Bazz, who with Jerry Angel, drummer supreme, were hawking Blasters T-shirts and a new live tape they called The Blasters Bootleg. It has supposedly been mastered but I listened to it on the way home and found its fidelity lacking but listenable once I set the volume control to headbanging velocity. I chatted with Billy and John for a while until the first band came on at 9pm, then I sat down to check them out. The Human Tornadoes are a fair instrumental unit who looked like they practiced in their garage after school every day. Not bad, not great.

I'd like to mention that the canned music played between all the sets was just great, a mix of hopping hillbilly, rockin' rhythm & blues and swinging sounds, no doubt the doings of the show's booker, Todd Abramson, of Telstar Records fame. Todd used to book a lot of cool shows at Maxwell's in Hoboken.

After 10 minutes, Around 10, the Swingin' Neckbreakers came on. They're a 60s styled group but they play with 90s punk rock energy. I liked them a lot and would see them again. Their set included a pumpin' rendition of "The Girl Can't Help It."

The Neckbreakers played about an hour ending at 11pm and I expected the Blasters to come right on, but nothing happened, then at a quarter to midnight, who should dash onto the stage still wearing his coat to set up? Why Phil of course, he was late as usual. I cracked up, it was so typical and I'd discussed Phil's late tendencies with John before the show. He was keeping up his reputation and apologized numerous times during the set.

But the bottom line is they were great!!!! By the time the band came on the place had filled up, not as much as the jam-packed Link Wray show, but a decent sized crowd was present. Phil was at the top of his form, Keith Wyatt was incredible, the best lead guitarist I've seen in the band in a long time. Jerry Angel pounded the skins to perfection, after the show John said he was the backbone of the band. And of course John was his usual superb self. They ran the gamut of the Blasters songbook, although I was a mite disappointed that they never did one of my favorites, "No Other Girl." You name it, they did it, from the staples of "American Music," "Marie Marie," and "So Long Baby Goodbye," to the swampy classic, "Dark Night," and Bobby Lee Trammel's "It's All Your Fault," and Cab Calloway's "I'll Be Glad When You're Dead You Rascal You." A master blaster experience was had by one and all.

And if that wasn't enough, Billy Davis arranged for me to go downstairs to the Blasters dressing room where Phil and company were holding court. I waited patiently and got Phil to sign my copy of the Blasters collection CD. He was his usual witty self, I mean that in a good way. Around 2:30pm, the club tossed us all out of the dressing room and I took off back to beautiful NJ. A great night of American Music!

© 1997 Lawrence A. Shell - All Rights Reserved.