Possum and other Southern delights meet the world

May 07, 1998|By Tamara Ikenberg | Tamara Ikenberg,SUN STAFF

Can people of other countries identify with trailer parks, biscuits and, most importantly, road kill?

Southern Culture on the Skids, a band that giddily embraces its decidedly Dixie roots with songs about such down-home subjects, certainly thinks so.

"Possums are all over New Zealand and Australia," says Rick Miller, singer, guitarist, banjo player and electric sitarist of SCOTS.

SCOTS recently returned from playing in Australia. It has also played in Japan and several European countries. Pretty worldly for a band that just released an album titled "Plastic Seat Sweat."

"We're 'Renaissance Rednecks,' " says Miller of his band, which also includes Mary Huff on vocals, bass, organ, piano and tambourine and Dave Hartman on drums, percussion and vocals.

The group's music, a manic, often funny mixture of blues, country, rock and easy listening, to name a few of the genres it emulates, produces a unique strand of "Sur-ruralism."

Miller says the new album is a departure from the Southern rock style of the group's last release, "Dirt Track Date." But not everything's changed. Familiar themes still abound, such as -- you guessed it -- possum.

"It's the worst tasting stuff you've ever had," Miller says. "It's gamey."

However, with songs like "Carve that Possum," Miller maintains SCOTS' music is a celebration rather than a condemnation of the South.

"Things that are quintessentially Southern are always a little bit odd," says Miller. "I grew up with it."

He grew up in Henderson, N.C. And his song subjects, which he says many people think are made up, are often lifted from real life.

For instance, an early song called "The Man That Wrestles the Bear" was about a man who worked at the mobile home factory in Henderson where Miller's father worked. Every year, this man would attempt to wrestle a bear at the fair and would get his butt kicked, according to Miller.

Not everyone is amused by SCOTS themes, however. Miller, who now lives in Chapel Hill, N.C., says Southerners aren't particularly offended by the music and that most of the criticism comes from the Northeast.

"They think we're mean-spirited people making fun of [Southerners]," he says.

"We have been the brunt of many jokes," Miller says of his Southern peers. "They're a resilient bunch, quite creative."

And no matter how busy Miller gets, he makes it a point to keep up on important Southern issues.

"I think it's legal to eat road kill in North Carolina right now."

Pub Date: 5/07/98

Who: Southern Culture on the Skids

Where: Bohager's

When: Tonight at 8 o'clock

Tickets: $10

Tickets: Call Bohager's at 410-563-7220 or TicketMaster at 410-481-SEAT

Sundial: To hear excerpts from SCOTS' current release, "Plastic Seat Sweat," call Sundial at 410-783-1800 and enter code 6157. For more Sundial numbers, see the Sundial directory on Page 2A.

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