Pert' Near Sandstone at the Hexagon Bar

Sean Smuda

Traditionally, March 18 is a night when bars are empty and hungover moans echo through our fair metropolis. Not so Saturday at the Hexagon Bar, which was standing-room-only with bouncy fans of two local hillbilly bands.

Pert' Near Sandstone--all fiddle and banjo and clenched-jaw vocals projected into a central mic--got the dance party started with a variety of new-timey string tunes, including a bitchy version of "Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss," and a jingle instructing patrons which bar they should be ordering drinks from.

The Como Avenue Jug Band were missing their regular jug player, but grizzled and smiling replacement Taylor Carik--who first took up the jug only 24 hours before--was an excellent substitute (at least visually--his jugs didn't seem to be miked). Sweat-soaked tap dancer Becky Olson was a joy to behold (inspiring several blindingly obvious "jugs" quips in the crowd), and it was difficult to take your eyes off singer Ken Tyborski's circa-1978 moustache. But the real star of this soused 12-member outfit was spoons player Matt Simmons, who wielded his utensils with vein-pulsing intensity, frequently darting up to shout an obscene stanza or drunken rant. The mic got covered with every member's spit as they passed their secret flask and conjured expansive sing-alongs about hermaphrodites, vacations, and prescription medications. At set's end the hillbilly quickstepping crowd witnessed an a cappella (with jug) death sentence: "I got a noose around my neck and it feels strange." Were they saying that cigarettes and whiskey and wild, wild women will march us all to the gallows? In that case, I regret that I have but one life to lose for my favorite local jug band.

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