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The "novelty band" tag is another thing that Doo Rag has had to contend with. "That happens all the time," Log admits, "but it doesn't really bother me. Rock n' roll was a novelty, too, when it first came out. Anytime somebody does something new, that's a novelty."
"Those old-time guys, they had no musical education," offers Malling. "They were just out there experimenting. That's what we're trying to do." Suffice it to say that this is something original, something different--ergo, something the powers that be in the music biz don't always allow to enter through the front door. Yes, Bob and Thermos have stories.
"One of the best places we ever played was in Austin, in a girls' bathroom," Bob says. "Somehow, there was a scheduling mix-up, about six bands playing, so we did our ten-minute set and then told everyone we were going back to the girls' bathroom and set up in there. About 50 people crammed in." New Orleans has been a consistent location of weirdness and profit for the Rag. "We played there on the street last year. We lived in a parking lot for three days, cause it was near the corner. Three-seventy-five a day. We carried all our stuff around in a wheelchair we found in New York City, and everyone knew us at the end of three days, waving to us and stuff. We made enough to get our van fixed."
In fact, the band has just returned from a trip to the Crescent City for Mardi Gras; the town paid off again. "It was a blast," says Malling, sighing. "We got to play with a 250-pound black transvestite, and that was just a showstopper right there. Wendy was her name."
And then there was the time . . . "I used to wear a diaper on my head; it was the hat I had when we first started," waxes Log.
Malling takes up the story. "We were in San Francisco playing Market Street, and this lady watching us says to her friend [adopts pitch of excited Ethel Mertz], 'That guy's got a pull-up panty on his head!'" A pull-up panty. The blues.
"It felt really good," says Log in earnest. "It had this kind of elastic that squeezed your head just right, and it was very soothing. I was into that for a while, but I've moved on to hats."
And now we move on to Doo Rag's Phoenix gig, opening for Crash Worship. It is nearly midnight when Bob and Thermos take the stage. Well, actually, they're performing in an elevated alcove at stage left. They are seated, as usual, and Log's face is almost obscured behind the vacuum tube he sings into. There is an oscilloscope on the side of the stage, registering his voice in quavers of horror-lab green. You can't understand any words, but Doo Rag clanks and rasps the audience into a rapt frenzy.
Is this the future of the blues or inspired performance art? To the audience on this night, it probably doesn't matter. It works--that's what's important. Mention the blues to Log, ask him why he does Doo Rag, and you get a simple answer that's as ironic as it is sublime.
"This is my favorite music, and I hate to see it get ruined." Doo Rag will perform on Saturday, February 26, at Congo in Scottsdale, with Flathead. Showtime is 9:30 p.m.