Jezebel Jones on Slim Cessna's Auto Club and American roots' dark side

Jezebel Jones
Jezebel Jones

If Americana is the new punk rock, Slim Cessna is its Iggy Pop. He not only serves as a dark ole granddaddy but defies our desire to file music into mothballed subgenres like gothic country or punkabilly. Fans often describe a Slim Cessna's Auto Club show as a religious experience -- yet even with eight albums spanning nearly two decades they are relatively unknown.

The band is a paradox -- known for dark imagery, yet fun as hell. Just as they've outgrown genre they're an active reminder that all great American music springs from the same soil -- country, blues, the music of Saturday night and of Sunday morning, it's all a singular enduring tradition. And Cessna takes the stage at 7th St. Entry tonight.

City Pages talked to tonight's opener, Minneapolis' own queen of gothic country, Jezebel Jones about Slim Cessna's Auto Club, her own music and the fiery apocalypse that awaits us all.

City Pages: Did you see Slim Cessna's Auto Club at Lee's in 2010 or at the Turf Club in 2009?

Jezebel Jones: I finally saw them -- twice actually -- at SXSW in 2011. I was a fan before that but seeing them play is a trip. I felt like I was back in the Pentecostal Church, only this time the usic was much better and I could drink whiskey and have dirty thoughts and not feel guilty about any of it.

CP: Is there something you're hoping they'll play tonight? What's your favorite SCAC record?

JJ: Yeah, definitely. I'm hoping they'll play "Sister's Husband" and "This is How We Do Things in the Country." Favorite record? Hmmm...I'm pretty partial to Buried Behind the Barn but I have been getting into their new album, Unentitled.

CP: Audience participation is pretty key to their performance -- how does a band cultivate that?

JJ: By having great storytellers, I think. In the case of Slim Cessna's Auto Club, the music is intriguing, but then so is the raw energy between Slim and Jay Munly. As an audience member, you're clapping and stomping your feet to some rowdy banjo riffs, yelling "amens" and "hallelujahs" and letting the music was over you. There's a communication between the audience and the band and it's intoxicating to be a part of that.

CP: Your own music is pretty apocalyptic - would you say Slim Cessna's Auto Club has been an influence?

JJ: Yes, although you may not notice it. I'd stumbled on to what they call "the Denver Sound" - including Slim's band - only about three or four years ago, a little after I'd started writing my first album, Queen of the Devil's Rodeos. Some of my favorite bands from that scene are 16 Horsepower, Slim Cessna's and Tarantella. Jay Mulley's solo work makes me laugh hard and scares the fuck out of me at the same time. Not too many songwriters can manage that.

CP: There's also a lot of dark humor in your album, Queen of the Devil's Rodeo, especially in songs like "Post-Rapture Blues" - Is humor a coping mechanism for accepting the coming apocalypse?

JJ: It used to be. Until recently I was a long-time agnostic who was still deathly afraid of hell. But Death and the Devil and the Lord and I have worked out our many differences.

CP: There's also an outlaw streak to your songs - Think you'll play "Gary Got Arrested" or your arrangement of Tex Ritter's "I've Got Spurs that Jingle Jangle Jingle"?

JJ: "Gary Got Arrested" is a request I can't say no to. As for "Spurs" -- I'll have to make you wait and see!

CP: Who else should fans of Slim Cessna's Auto Club check out here in the Twin Cities?

JJ: Some of my favorites in the local roots scene right now are Swallows, El le Faunt & His Travelling Circus - Just saw Poverty Hash and was pretty impressed. You gotta like bluesy/metal roots bands that can lay down a mean, groovin' murder ballad. I'm not necessarily a fan of mainstream Americana. I mean, a lot of it is okay and there's some nice music out there but I'm more attracted to the weird, vaudevillian, holy-ghost-shrivers type - the darker side of American roots music. Guess that means I'm not very nice.

Slim Cessna's Auto Club will play at the 7th Street Entry along with Jezebel Jones & Her Wicked Ways and Housepet.
18+, $12 adv and door, 8 pm,
Tuesday July 31

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