Santa Barbara native Chris Shiflett is best known as the lead guitarist for the last 10 or so years for the alt-rock powerhouse Foo Fighters, which was founded by Dave Grohl after Kurt Cobain’s suicide effectively ended the band Nirvana. Foo Fighters have won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album a record four times — three during Shiflett’s tenure — including for their latest album Wasting Light. Before Foo Fighters, Shiflett played with the punk band No Use for a Name, and he continues to be a member of the “punk rock supergroup” Me First and the Gimme Gimmes.
But at the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez on July 5, Shiflett was in an entirely different musical mode — as frontman of Chris Shiflett and the Dead Peasants. Shiflett started this project when Foo Fighters were on break a few years ago, and he released an album of original songs in the alt-country/Americana vein. At the Maverick Saloon, however, the show consisted entirely of covers of old-school honky tonk music.
That’s right, there were high-octane covers of songs by Buck Owens (show opener “Guitar Pickin’ Man,” “King of Fools,” “Wham Bam” dedicated to his in-laws in the audience, and “Foolin’ Around”), Merle Haggard (“Skid Row,” “Mama Tried”), George Jones (“I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me),” “You’re Still On My Mind”), Hank Williams (“Your Cheatin’ Heart”) and others. Of course, these all fit nicely with atmosphere of the Maverick Saloon, and there was some spirited dancing from the crowd, which Shiflett pointed out included some of his high school friends.
Opening the evening was another local, Wil Ridge, who I first became aware of when I saw the documentary Dead Horse Opera a few years ago at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (Click here for the Noozhawk review). Ridge has an engaging alt-country sound that ranges from country rockers to more acoustic fare, and he was quite popular with the crowd.
If you missed the show at the Maverick Saloon, Chris Shiflett and the Dead Peasants will be performing Wednesday night at Velvet Jones, 423 State St., along with Joey Cape’s Bad Loud. (Cape, like Shiflett, is also a member of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes.) And Wil Ridge will be opening for Lucero at Velvet Jones on Monday.
Guitar Pickin’ Man (Buck Owens)
Got the Bull by the Horns (Johnny Horton)
Good Time Charley’s (George Strait)
I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me) (George Jones)
Pop A Top (Nat Stuckey)
King of Fools (Buck Owens)
Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young (Faron Young)
You’re Still On My Mind (George Jones)
Wham Bam (Buck Owens)
Happy Part of Town (Wynn Stewart)
Skid Row (Merle Haggard)
Foolin’ Around (Buck Owens)
Mama Tried (Merle Haggard)
Playboy (Wynn Stewart)
Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way (Waylon Jennings)
Your Cheatin’ Heart (Hank Williams)
— Noozhawk contributing writer Jeff Moehlis is a professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.