Three Blue Teardrops
Bottom Lounge; Sat 23
NO EXCESSIVELY BAGGY PANTS. NO TANK TOPS ON MEN, reads a small paper sign outside the Deja Vu bar on Lincoln Avenue. While the implication of this message is blunt, what is left unsaid is that a decade ago this venue was packed with patrons sporting roomy zoot-suit trousers and wifebeaters. The fact that the former home of Rockabilly Night now bans the scene's uniform shows how far this subculture has fallen. The tribe still gathers every month at Martyrs' Big C Jamboree, but it's clear that Chicago's rockabilly scene has diminished since its heyday, and that has a lot to do with the absence of its greatest band.
From 1991 until 1999, Three Blue Teardrops (guitarist Dave Sisson, drummer Randy Sabo and upright bassist Rick Uppling) created driving, dynamic psychobilly that was traditional without being nostalgic, fun without being novelty and punk without being a mess. The trio toured America (a rockabilly rarity) and established itself nationally as a riveting live act. Locally it bridged the gap between the pompadour contingent and broader music audiences, but the group ran into a glass ceiling when its dedication to wild, genre-defying songwriting kept it from cashing in on the swing-dance craze that proved lucrative for cohorts like the Mighty Blue Kings and the Four Charms. The Teardrops' infrequent reunions are fueled by their love of the music and by unbreakable familial bonds (both between each other and with their reverent audience), so their appearance this week is one to treasure. And don't worry about the dress code—it's tank-top optional.—Jake Austen