Horse Cave Trio
Ronnie D gets back to his roots
by Stephanie Kadel-Taras
When it comes to a night dancing at the bar, I admit I've gotten older. Gone are those sweat-soaked, head-banging throw-downs on the dance floor until 2 a.m. But I miss them, and I still have the energy for at least one set of music that tickles your feet and won't let you sit down. Unfortunately, I rarely find a band that really does that for me.
Horse Cave Trio does. I saw this group recently at a bar with no dance floor to speak of, and an ever-growing crowd of middle-aged hipsters took to their feet anyway, jostling elbows during the too-short set. With no promotional materials, website, explanation of its odd name, or full-length album, Horse Cave Trio wouldn't normally have come to my attention yet. But I know who Ron DeVore is, and when I heard he was in a new rockabilly trio that was impressing rock DJs, motorcycle gangs, and horror-movie host "The Ghoul," I had to be there.
"Ronnie D," as he was introduced to me over a decade ago, has carried off the same sexy rockabilly swagger, complete with dyed-blond pompadour, all this time. And with the maturity of family life, a varied professional music career, and this return to his roots, Ronnie is hotter than ever. As front man on vocals and bass, DeVore is a consummate performer, eating up the crowd with his Chuck Berry moves, squeals and shouts, and groovin' bass, accented by pointy-toed boots and tight black jeans.
He sometimes turns around and plays to the drummer, as though so caught up in the cool sounds they're making together he's forgotten about the crowd. But then he'll flip back to the microphone and belt out "Long distance information, give me Memphis, Tennessee" for all he's worth. He knows how to mimic the vocal stylings of Elvis or Jerry Lee. He can hit the high notes with precision. And he carries off the blues like a man
who knows about broken hearts and after-hours brawls.
DeVore is lucky to perform with equally veteran musicians, Lou Simon on guitar and Rob Haze on drums. Simon, who played with Jimmie Bones (now of Kid Rock fame), knows what to do with a solo line, baiting listeners with repetitive riffs and reeling them in with a high-pitched climax. Haze seems to know he's playing to us dancers. As my husband says, "He isn't afraid to hit something once in a while." But he has volume control too.
The repertoire isn't all covers. DeVore's original tunes, like "Tremble" and "Young, Sweet, and Fine," are so much in the style of his heroes, I had to check to make sure they weren't forgotten 1950s hits.
There's nothing really groundbreaking about Horse Cave Trio. It's simply three confident musicians who know how to please by playing the music they love most. The licks are comfortably familiar, the beat is just what you expect, and the resolution is sweetly satisfying. It's only rock 'n' roll. But I like it.
The Horse Cave Trio does now have a CD, the brand-new Hot Rods, Choppers, & Rock 'n' Roll. You can catch it at the almost-brand-new Northfield Lounge just north of town on Friday, November 5.
[Originally published in November, 2004.]