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Dark on Skid Row 

And Cates call it a career with last Little Rock appearance.

HIT THE 'SKIDS': At the Rev Room.
  • HIT THE 'SKIDS': At the Rev Room.

The mention of “skid row” brings to mind the famous black-and-white images of the “Bowery Bums” in endless bread lines amidst vast urban structures and smoky, filthy streets. But the phrase “skid row” can have very different connotations. For anyone who is fairly pop culture savvy (or at least cognizant during the ’80s music scene), it drums up references to hair, guitars, tight pants and taunts and tantrums on stage.

On Saturday, Nov. 25, the legendary ’80s hair band Skid Row shows us what the “hard life” is all about when they regroup and rock it back-alley style at the Revolution Room.

Formed in 1986 in New Jersey, the original Skid Row was one of the last hair bands of the golden age of rock and locks. They rose quickly but their career suffered when the grunge rockers of Seattle (coincidentally the hometown of Yesler Road, the first geographical “skid row”) and elsewhere would knock Skid Row off the pop charts and back into the gutter. First formed by bassist Rachel Bolan and guitarist Dave “the Snake” Sabo, the band eventually added guitarist Scotti Hill, drummer Rob Affuso, and notorious vocalist Sebastian Bach. With the aid of friend Jon Bon Jovi the band was signed to Atlantic in 1989 and their first album went platinum followed by a 1991 album that went No. 1 upon release.

It’s believed that the second album’s success was due not so much to the band’s musical genius but to the notoriety of loose cannon vocalist Bach. During a 1989 concert with Aerosmith the legendary “Bottle Incident” (which involved Bach seeking out an audience member who had thrown a bottle at him and subsequently fighting him during the show) took place and was followed by the singer wearing an offensive anti-gay T-shirt on MTV shortly thereafter.

With a following backslide on the charts Bach was fired from the band in 1996 and was replaced by Johnny Solinger (formerly of the band Solinger). Skid Row’s sound maintained a “glam metal” quality early on but eventually merged into more hardcore and/or thrashcore territory. The classic “Youth Gone Wild” remains the legendary anthem of the band, but the most recent album is darker metal, reflecting the age of the band and, of course (as the last the albums have been), the absence of Bach’s distinctive vocals. Released in October, “Revolutions Per Minute” features the production work of Michael Wagener, who did the band’s former albums “Skid Row” and “Slave to the Grind.” Their new sound falls nicely into place with the metal/hardcore trends of the current scene and showcases the band’s talent for keeping above water even when things are looking bleakest.

Your last chance to catch the legendary blues rockers The Cate Brothers from Northwest Arkansas is Friday and Saturday night Nov. 24-25, at Cajun’s Wharf. The group, which made national waves in the 1970s with “Union Man” and which has played the club scene relentlessly for a generation, will call it quits. The shows this weekend both start about 8:30 p.m., and cover charge is $5.

Several local rockers regroup this week at Juanita’s Cantina Ballroom for shows in the town that knows (and loves) them best.

On Friday Nov. 24, it’s Sugar and the Raw with Grand Serenade. Sugar and the Raw, with its rotating band door policy, is signed to Max Recordings and segues smoothly and efficiently from sweeter folk/rock jam band to edgier indie rock. As for Grand Serenade, its sound — like Coldplay with a touch of disillusionment and a hint of mainstream popularity — has fans vying for an “OC” debut.

On Saturday, Nov. 25, the Master of Disaster will be lighting a fire with raw punk/alt rock in Smoke Up Johnny. Following in his wake will be The Moving Front (sadly without Cure wigs) with a barrage of new-wavish indie artillery. Last, but not least, the reigning monarchs American Princes offer a foursome of pop power.

Other shows to catch this week: Jazz piano with The Leslie Maclean Trio at Acoustic Sounds Cafe on Friday ... At The Afterthought on Friday and Saturday it’s rhythm and blues band Brenda and Ellis …Adrianu James, a former violinist and designer for Evanescence, goes solo at Vino’s as Das Gift … At White Water on Saturday, see local “jam band extraordinaire” Weakness for Blondes … On Sunday at Juanita’s find out who will win in HM Recordings’ Battle of the Bands (The Battle for Myspace) contest … At White Water for Tuesday night’s Arkansas Rockers’ Review, rap with Playa Laid Juanita’s has a local lineup worth seeing on Tuesday with hard rock from DVNT, eletronica/trance with Another Theory and rock/metal with Dirty Finger. On Wednesday at Juanita’s, it’s Gospel Fest with Christian rapper Demonslayer.

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