Bands: April 1992

The Skeletones: Do the Rockabilly  ‘til the break of day


Rockabilly music is  basically the soundtrack to a movie featuring (take your pick): a) driving large American vehicles fast and nowhere in particular; b) making a play on a fallen angel named Betty in a smoky bar: c)drinking lots of your favorite beverage, often in junction with (a) or (b). 

Local rockabilly fans had good reasons to partake of these simple pleasures during the month of March as a hot new rockabilly trio, The Skeletones , tore up the Bar & Grill for three nights. Make no mistake, these guys have the good—capturing wine, women and wheels, and the simple joys of looking cool in black slacks.

Locals will recognize some familiar faces—guitarist Paul Kreutz as former member of The Rise, singer/bassist Mike Paoli lately of The Strangers rounded off by drummer Lee Aiduakitis. The Skeletones use rockabilly as a starting point before they incorporate rhythm & blues and supercharged country western to round out their sound.

It appears The Skeletones are one of those blessed bands whose members are on the same wavelength—Mike has wanted to play rockabilly for years, Paul’s California-based band The Rise was nominally western-influenced—and shared stages with bands such as Paladins, Blasters, and Chris Isaak—and Lee lays down a drum attack, ranging from a billy-boogie shuffle to a freight-train slam.

The Bar & Grill shows were the first shows The Skeletones had played, and the band’s tightness was remarkable. Rockabilly is a deceptively difficult musical form, and the ‘Tones had their music down so they could have fun and let the rockabilly work it’s magic.

Mike Paoli seems to have been born to sing rockabilly. Good stage presence and a strong baritone voice put over the Skeletones songs with authority. Mike pulled out all rockabilly vocal tricks from crooning to snarling, or bellowing like a drunken fan in the cheap seats at a hockey game.

 Paul absolutely blazed on his ’51 Gibson, a great big beautiful fattie of a guitar, nailing the rockabilly sound in his tone and playing style. Again, rockabilly guitar is a difficult thing to master, using different chording and scales than other rock-related styles, and Paul’s obviously got serious rockabilly chops. Paul’s turn on vocal came out well also. Lee and Mike lay down a simple and powerful rhythmic backing for the guitar and vocals. This is a band that knows rockabilly and can pump out on stage.

Beyond all this technical talk is the fact that rockabilly is some of the funnest, most danceable music around.  The Skeletones have fun with originals like “Nervous,” “Hot Rod Mama,” “Made in The U.S.A,” “Freight Train,” and “Two Timin’ Baby.” Mike and Paul write tunes individually as well as collaborate. Throw in some tasty rockabilly and pyscho-country covers and The Skeletones are a guaranteed night of music that will whip you into a lather.

Salt Lake has a good tradition of supporting traveling acts like The Paladins, The Blasters, and their psycho-billy cousins The Cramps; The Skeletones deserve your attention as Salt Lake begins to build it’s own rockabilly scene.

To check out more from SLUG Archive:
Consolidated: Fighting The Evil System 
Salt Lake Indies