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Wednesday, February 11,2009

So long, Lux

Iconic frontman 'Cramped' Lansing's style

by Rich Tupica

TURN IT DOWN A survey of Lansing’s musical landscape



Rock ‘n’ roll is a fragile entity. Some bands get it, while others will never understand.

Lux Interior, lead singer of The Cramps, more than got it. His entire being radiated a creepiness that was part Elvis, part Iggy Pop and part B-movie Werewolf — he was rock’n’roll.

On Feb.4, Lux (real name Erick Purkhiser), died in California at age 62, leaving behind 13 studio albums of garage-punk that swerved toward ‘50s R&B and rockabilly.

The Lansing music scene (an appreciator of twang and punk music) owes Lux a slew of gratitude for his trademark sound that is used as a reference point.

The band’s classic album, “Songs The Lord Taught Us” (1980) is essential. If you love punk and/or rock music and have never given this LP a spin, listen to it. Afterwards you will rethink the validity of the rest of your collection.

The Cramps' genuine love for American roots music made them original. Lux and Poison Ivy (his wife of 37 years and Cramps guitarist) looked up to underground Detroit soul legend Andre Williams and the stripped-down backwoods sound of Hasil Adkins — not your typical heroes.

While the band was influenced by a pile of old, scratched-up 45s, out of that came a sound no band, especially in 1973, had thought of.


The Cramps toured for more than 35 years, in part because of the band’s broad range of followers who would pass down their love to younger generations. While The White Stripes praised the bands’ primitive aspects and turned on hipsters, The Reverend Horton Heat took notes on the band’s ability to somehow make rockabilly sound more menacing and convert young teens into greasers.

Other followers live here in Lansing.


Listen to local favorites The Goddamn Gallows and Mosquito Bandito: Lux’s vision can be heard.

In fact, a new night at a local venue (see below) probably wouldn’t exist if Lux hadn’t shared his genius showmanship and songwriting with the world.

R.I.P. Lux, Lansing will miss you.


Weirdness invades the Small Planet tonight. Nocturnal Aviators in Action open the show with a raucous blast of sound. The trio’s tunes are brash, noisy and well written; an odd combination I totally dig. Lansing’s Waveburner closes the show. This band reminds me of music I used to hear on 92.1 The Edge (a now defunct Lansing alt-rock FM station). Or perhaps a band I would have seen at the original Small Planet in 1995. Fans of Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana may appreciate the band’s throwback sound. The scattered sounds of  Mikado (Saginaw) round out the bill. 16800 Chandler Road, East Lansing. 18 , $5/$8. www.thesmallplanet.net.


Lansing hiphop is alive, and it lives at Mac’s Bar. The venue is host to a slew of local rap shows that feature an array of lyrical talent and showmanship.

The first Friday of every month at Mac's gets packed with hip-hop heads for The Mic Club, a showcase of local rappers spittin’ on mics until 2 a.m. Aside from the pros, an open mic sign-up sheet has been added to the bill, allowing any aspiring rapper to get on stage and do their thing. The next Mic Club is Friday, Feb. 13, and features local favorites SINcere, Christian Nelson, E-Nyce, Big Perm and Made Life. 2700 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing, 9 p.m., $3 before 11:30 p.m. 18 www.myspace.com/micclubnights


The tattooed psychobilly sounds of The Goddamn Gallows always draws a rowdy bunch. Basically, if you’re looking for a trashy, rock’n’roll-night and want to honor the legacy of Lux, come drink a few and listen to some raunchy country-tinged tunes at Mac’s Bar on Feb. 16. The night is dubbed “Rockabilly Mondays,” and is scheduled to become a new weekly happening. Sharing the bill is the angry Irish sounds of The Tosspints. These Saginaw cats are not as hard as Flogging Molly, but not quite The Pouges, although fans of either may dig the band’s Celtic sound. 2700 E. Michigan Avenue, Lansing, $5, 9 p.m. 18 . www.macsbar.com.

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