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Fish head music

Wren Wertin

For The Radiators, getting older means getting better.

The Rads – an institution if they’re anything – just turned 26, and they’re still on the road. The group plays Half Moon Saloon tonight at 10. Little Hercules supports, bring the funk full circle.

Few bands can boast more than two decades of success, and even fewer two decades of exactly the same line-up. But The Rads have always done things their own way.

“We’re celebrating 26 years of whatever the hell we are,” said guitarist/vocalist Dave Malone to the Times-Picayune’s Keith Spera in January, right before their three-day anniversary bash at at New Orleans landmark Tipitina’s.

Though influenced by jam bands of the ’60s and ’70s such as The Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band (members of which they still occasionally play with), The Rads always remained true to their own blend of swamp rock and rhythm and blues. The New Orleans-infused gumbo pot of sound is built on more than 300 original songs, plus hundreds of covers.

The Rads banded together in 1978, playing for pizza and beer at New Orleans’ Luigi’s Pizza Parlor. During a rendition of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” all of the guitars drowned out Frank Bua’s drums. He walked out to the truck and grabbed his chainsaw (he’d been cutting wood that day), and cranked it up. After buzzing it around on stage a bit, he turned it off. It only took the facial expressions of his band-mates to make him fire it back up and saw through some chairs and a table.

They quit being the regular entertainment at Luigi’s, but they left unfazed. They’ve always encouraged each other to step outside the expected. Living outside the box become a way of life.

Their song-packed repertoire helps them in their goal to never repeat a show. But it’s the on-stage experimentation that gives them a boost. Loyal fans, the original fishheads, have followed them around the country for just this reason. They’ll swap set-memories and musical theories in between dancing and frolicking to the songs.

The Rads are Ed Volker (keys, vocals), Dave Malone (guitars, vocals), Camile Baudoin (guitars), Reggie Scanlan (bass) and Bua. Recently, they haven’t confined their experimentation to the stage. They’ve decided to accept the digital age – or at least acknowledge it – and for the first time a CD-quality download is available for purchase. For such a momentous occasion, they chose their New Year’s Eve show at B.B. King’s in New York.

Though that show was wild, tonight’s event should get pretty crazy, too. The concert is a coup for the Moon. New Orleans has long been an unofficial sister city of Vail, so it’s a fitting match.

At press time there are still tickets available, but they’re going fast. For more information call 476-4314.

Creole spice

The Radiators

Today, 10 p.m.

Half Moon, West Vail


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