Rich Hopkins & The Luminarios "Live At The Rockpalast Crossroads Festival"
Rocking up during the final days of the Paisley Underground, despite a deal with RCA and later a name-change, nothing could save Tucson’s Sidewinders from the onslaught of grunge.
Recalibrating themselves as The Sand Rubies, they manfully struggled on, but to diminishing returns save for a nucleus of devoted fans scattered like tumbleweed across the USA and Europe. That there’s still a significant interest is evident from founder Rich Hopkins’ appearance at last year’s Rockpalast Crossroads Festival in Bonn with new band The Luminarios in tow.
Notwithstanding Rockpalast’s sometimes rather dry sound, the band’s performance here retains enough energy to still make it work. Hopkins’ guitar jousting lysergically with that of compadre Jon Sanchez on the appreciably bendy ‘Soul Leecher (El Paso)’. Meanwhile over on ‘Paraguay’ and ‘Ferment’ our dusty-shirted axe-heroes jangle like the veritable Bells of Rhymney themselves, turning out solo after extended solo.
Although drummer George Duron and bassist Ken Andree lay down an anvil-steady rhythm throughout, the weakest aspect possibly comes courtesy of Hopkins’ and Liza Novak’s occasionally approximate vocals. But hell, this is a bar band after all, and a damn good one. Calling to mind the heyday of The Rain Parade, Dream Syndicate et al, for men of a certain age and disposition, they’ll leave nary a dry eye in the house. Spread over two CDs and a DVD, this is an excellent starter pack.