A band called Slobberbone

Ash Street Saloon
225 S.W. Ash Street
$8 advance Fastixx
$10 at the door
Friday, Jan. 24
9:30 p.m.
Slobberbone. Go ahead. Say it out loud. Slob-ber-bone. Slobb-er-bone Slobber-bone. Not only is Slobberbone not something you’d find at a sex toy shop, but it’s a name you won’t soon forget. Friday, Jan. 24, at the Ash Street Saloon you’ll have the opportunity to find out for yourself just what the boys from Denton, Texas, meant when they named their band Slobberbone.

“I thought it was funny when we first named the band. I was sitting on the back lawn with Lee, our old bass player, and the dog was playing with this big ol’ bone, and we always called them slobberbones as kids. So I said, ‘That’s a nasty-ass slobberbone,’ and Lee said, ‘That’s it!’ At the time, it seemed like an innocuous name,” says singer/songwriter/guitarist, Brent Best. “I’ve always said that if we ever overcome the stigma of our name, we’ll know that we truly arrived.”

So there you have it, a casual decision that only has broader implications when people start to care about what you do.

In the beginning, in Denton sometime in the mid-’90s, Slobberbone was all about playing for friends and free beer. Fortunately, their modest aspirations were quickly thwarted by the growing realization that they had something really special on their hands. Even in his earliest songs, Brent had an uncanny ability to fuse seriously deep subject matter with catchy-as-hell melodies and compelling song structures. Bassist Brian Lane and drummer Tony Harper are a rock-solid rhythm section, and guitarist Jess Barr can pretty much do as he pleases on his instrument. His trademark is a wickedly fast solo followed by a one-finger-in-the-air salute to, well, himself. It’s all done with humor, of course, which is what differentiates these guys from a lot of other bands. Not that they don’t take what they do seriously, it’s just that they know that when people come out to see a band, they also want to have fun, to be released, to get rocked.

Slippage, Slobberbone’s 4th album, was recorded by legendary producer Don Smith (Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Rolling Stones), whose experienced hand enabled the band to dig deep into their sound. Slippage is packed with great rock ‘n’ roll songs, from the flippant kiss-off of “Springfield, IL.” to the bloodstained triptych of “Butchers” to the hopeful yearning of “Back,” in which a wayward friend longs to right his wrongs in the life he left behind. There are no extraneous bells and whistles here. On this CD you’ll hear dead-on observations from the dark side of the human condition sung with the conviction of someone who’s lived it. Guitars that push, pull, snarl and wail with desperate and joyful abandon, and underneath it all, the warmth and soul of a natural-born rock band living and dying for every note.

Slippage resonates with a rare and intense kind of lyrical maturity. Catchy couplets and anthemic choruses abound, but just beyond that is another strata of narrative depth where the fates of victims are inverted in the space of a phrase, where the larger picture is suddenly and devilishly revealed to be quite different than we were led to believe. This kind of poetic sophistication is what has led writer Larry Brown (Big Bad Love, Fay) to wax rhapsodic, stating: “This band is probably the best rock band I’ve ever heard.” And none other than literary titan Stephen King specifically mentions the band in his latest best-selling novel, “Black House.”

Referring to the song “Gimme Back My Dog,” from the band’s third album Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today, one of the novel’s principle characters, the Wisconsin Rat, says, “Every five years or so, another great rock ‘n’ roll song comes break-dancing out of the woodwork. This is a great rock ‘n’ roll song.”

Slobberbone has always insisted that they are a rock band first and foremost. From Crow Pot Pie, their critically lauded 1996 debut, to Barrel Chested (1997) to Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today (2001), the band’s first release on New West, the sound and spirit of rock ‘n’ roll has permeated the music.

If rock ‘n’ roll were a neighborhood, Slobberbone has explored and terrorized most every street, alley and cul-de-sac: country, punk, pop, soul, metal. Those styles and influences have always been there, but over time (and approximately 200 live dates a year!) they’ve become increasingly integrated into the fabric of the band.

In 2001, Fort Worth Weekly Music Awards honored Slobberbone with Best Album of the Year for Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today. Go see why Friday night at the Ash Street.