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Eric Heatherly needs to add a dose of heart and soul

San Dimas, Cal., Montana's, Nov. 29, 2000

By Dan MacIntosh

SAN DIMAS, CA - Eric Heatherly may look up to both Carl Perkins and Stevie Ray Vaughan as his primary musical influences, but while he has assimilated the rockabilly and blues elements from these two musical icons respectively, he hasn't yet found a way to channel their intangible charisma.

You get the immediate impression he is only playing with his bad boy rock & roll image, rather than being the real thing. A song like "I Just Break 'em," which is about a wild one who won't live by the rules, expressed little more than cartoon criminal sentiments in Heatherly's soft hands.

Backed by a bass player, a drummer and a keyboard player, Heatherly's live presentation is stripped down to the bare basics, which leaves plenty of space for his inventive guitar skills. The song "SRV," his personal tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan, best exemplified the wide range of his fretwork. While Heatherly certainly knows how to play the blues, this audience of weekday line dancers appeared to quickly lose interest in Heatherly's extended jamming on this tune.

These hot-steppers did wakeup, though, when Heatherly got to his hit "Flowers on the Wall." With its big beat and twangy guitar licks, Heatherly has given this old song a lot of new bouncy spunk.

He should have saved some of that spunk for his own material, though, as the faux rockabilly of "Someone Else's Cadillac" and "Let Me" had all the natural appeal of warm and flat Coke. Although these songs retain the necessary elements of early rock & roll, they sounded more like dusty museum pieces in after Heatherly got done with them.

There's nothing wrong with being a musical revivalist, and Heatherly doesn't need to look very far to find individuals who have breathed new life into rock & roll's traditions.

Brian Setzer, during in his Stray Cats days, was a lot like Heatherly in that he hardly had an original bone in his body. But when Setzer reached back to the '50's for inspiration, he sang with an undeniable passion.

If Heatherly ever expects to be remembered in the same breath as his idols, he'll first need to put a little more heart and soul into his rock and roll.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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