John Howie would like people to think of the Two Dollar Pistols as "a country band that likes R&B, that likes rock 'n' roll, that likes rockabilly, that likes the Beatles, but not a rock 'n' roll band that likes country music." No argument here, thanks to the top-shelf honky-tonk songs that Howie and company (guitarist Scott McCall, bassist Neil Spaulding, and drummer Mark Weaver) create, as well as their knack for surrounding them with covers of everybody from The Band and Southern soulman Z.Z. Hill to the Replacements without a hint of contrivance. On the other hand, Patty Hurst Shifter (pictured right) is a rock band--of the guitar-worshipping, anthem-playing variety--that keeps finding references to country music (or some hybrid thereof) dotting their reviews.
Bet it has something to do with that big hunk of Carolina twang that lives in the voice of frontguy Chris Smith. Both bands released fine albums in 2002 (the Pistols' You Ruined Everything and Patty Hurst Shifter's Beestinger Lullabies), and both, perhaps to celebrate that fact, are doing New Year's Eve shows. You'll need to choose between the Two Dollar Pistols at Cat's Cradle (967-9053) or Patty Hurst Shifter at Local 506 (942-5506). Or, you can do what I plan to do: make the quarter-mile sprint between the two a couple of times during the night. Roger Wallace, another possessor of a pure honky-tonk soul, shares the stage with the Two Dollar Pistols, while the Cartridge Family joins Patty Hurst Shifter.