“Sometimes you gotta rip shit up, kids”...Adam Weiner, the eccentric wild-eyed frontman of Low Cut Connie says with dark intensity, staring over the top of his mostly damaged brown piano. The piano is named Shondra, named after an elderly stripper from Atlanta; she is covered in graffiti and has an American flag draped over her side. He points at all the boys and girls in the room, staring down these disheveled men and women of 2017 America, all gathered in this bar, drenched in sweat and hysterical eruptions. Weiner and Shondra begin the opening strains of the new Low Cut Connie song “Revolution Rock n Roll”. It’s a chunky Chuck Berry groove with slow, ominous overtones. The crowd starts to move their asses and lift their hands. These kids have been depressed and angry and they are ready to fully unload. “The time has come, pals...let’s get weird.”
Low Cut Connie was recently called “the essence of what rock n roll should be” by Greg Kot (Sound Opinions / NPR) and the New York Times has said “their live show is a phenomenon.” They have been a rolling DIY caravan with an explosive live act bubbling under the surface of the music industry for five years, building an obsessive fanbase from all walks of life - white and black, straight and gay, young and old - salty lunatics of every persuasion. Even former President Barack Obama is a fan. He chose their anthem of low-brow American life “Boozophilia” for his Spotify Playlist and met with Weiner at the White House in 2016.
But with Dirty Pictures (part 1), Low Cut Connie moves beyond the drunken bar boogie they have become associated with into a deeper, darker, dirtier American life.
“We’ve been thought of as a great party band by so many people, and we wear that as a badge of honor, but I really wanted to go deeper with this record,” says Weiner. “We’ve been travelling this country now for a number of years, meeting people of all stripes, entertaining them in their bars and sleeping on their couches, laughing hard, holding them tight and sweating it out with them. I wrote this record really thinking about how people are feeling and living in this country these days... It’s a wild scene out there.”
And what is it that best brings Americans together in such wild and dirty times? Weiner has a simple answer: “Rock n roll. Nothing moves people more. It’ll make the most unsuspecting citizen hot, horny, angry, weepy and emotional and ultimately open to life like never before. I’ve seen it happen. That’s what we do. We change the molecules in the room.”
Low Cut Connie began with 2011’s casually tossed-off Get Out the Lotion record, featuring songs by New Jersey-born Weiner and British songwriter Dan Finnemore, both collaborating with producer / guitarist Neil Duncan. The record was recorded in a 3-day blitz in Gainesville, Florida and Weiner printed 200 CD-R’s to give to friends. He sent the album to Robert Christgau, aka the Dean of American Rock Critics, who was the first to rave about what he called their “scuzzballing, resolute rock n roll”, which led to major reviews at NPR’s Fresh Air and Rolling Stone who described their wild sound as a “chugging scuzzbucket boogie.” Their song “Rio” struck a pungent chord with fans who connected with its amped-up, sexually-confused, overloaded grind.
Over the next few years, Low Cut Connie featured a revolving door of members as they barreled around America’s dive bars schlepping Weiner’s beloved 400-pound Shondra to every gig. 2012 brought the album Call Me Sylvia, which featured the earlier-mentioned “Boozophilia”, which caught the ears of many radio programmers as well as President Obama, and was named in Rolling Stone’s top singles of the year. The Connie boys collaborated with renowned producer Thomas Brenneck, former guitarist of Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, for 2015’s Hi Honey. The album was chosen by Jim DeRogatis as the #2 album of the year on Sound Opinions / NPR and featured the single “Shake It Little Tina” (whose video has a 3 second cameo from Jamie Foxx).
By Spring 2016, with Finnemore recently out of the band and no other original members, Weiner had assembled a tough young crew of degenerates, all living and rehearsing in Philadelphia. James Everhart (lead guitar), Will Donnelly (rhythm guitar), Larry Scotton (drums) and Lucas Rinz (bass) made up a heavier sound that Weiner describes as “a new boogie for all mankind.” As the crowds at Low Cut Connie shows grew, the sound and scope of the band expanded and as Weiner says, “The tent started to throb with existential tension and orgiastic release.” He decided to try to capture the vibe quickly on analog tape at the famous Ardent Studios in Memphis TN, home of Big Star. With the assistance of engineers Adam Hill and Dave Chale, Weiner produced the sessions, attempting to keep things moving fast. An explosion of material generated a pair of LP’s: Dirty Pictures (part 1) and its sequel, Dirty Pictures (part 2), slated to be released later this year.
With raunchy instrumental work from all the Connie boys pushing the envelope, the material on Dirty Pictures (part 1) delights and wallows in the seedy life of America 2017. “Revolution Rock n Roll” calls to arms our perverse and noble youthful instincts with Weiner screaming “Come on children, rip it up...let the jerk-offs clean it up.” “Death & Destruction” simply sums up our dirty American life under the Trump Administration by proclaiming, “Everybody’s acting like an asshole.” “Dirty Water” channels Keith Richards and Jimmy Reed with Everhart’s perfectly unsanitary guitar work. And with the deaths of so many musical luminaries looming on Weiner’s mind, he offers us the stately “Forever”, as well as a bracing cover of Prince’s “Controversy”. Speaking of the recent passing of his hero Prince Rogers Nelson, Weiner said “It will take time for us to understand what we have lost.” Closing the record is the show-stopping “What Size Shoe”, with the appropriately angry and impotent opening line “Well I feel like a schmuck.”
Whether they succeed or not, Low Cut Connie always attempts to make us feel something real, something very raw. With Dirty Pictures (part 1), this little rock n roll band from Philadelphia attempts to undress America, laughing and crying real tears with us all night long.