Ten years ago, I was in the middle of of a three-day marathon of live garage rock, one that included both its twangy antecedents and punky derivatives. In an attempt to pace myself, I left for pizza. It seemed safe to skip some of the younger bands, just as long as we got back for the legendary act on the bill that night Ė biker soundtrack rockers Davie Allan and the Arrows. When we returned, Allan wasnít on stage yet; a five-piece was in full roar, organ and slide guitar tangling in a wall of sound. We stood transfixed as they built it louder and louder. I developed a pit in my stomach, the feeling that Iíd just missed all but the end of the best set of the weekend. When the noise collapsed into silence, one of my friends said he was pretty sure he recognized the guitarist, probably from when he lived in Detroit. He went up to play the name game. But the guitarist wasnít from Detroit. Buckling his case shut, he nervously and politely said, "Iíve been around for a while. I go by Kid Congo."
Heís not a household name, but given the context, we sure felt dumb. As an early member of the Cramps and the Gun Club (and even an early Ramones Fan Club president), Kid Congo Powers is one of the New Wavers who brought rock back to its basics, a guitar hero whose playing got by on attitude long before heíd accumulated skill. Certainly more of a legend than Davie Allan.