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"I think this shift is putting the emphasis back on the music, which is overdue. A band like the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion--I mean, what the hell is that? It seems like people are going to those shows not so much to hear the music as they are to just bask in the glory of the band's coolness."
Throughout the early '90s, the Cherry Poppin' Daddies and a funky, horn-endowed outfit from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, called Black Happy more or less defined the Pacific Northwest's alternative to alternative. Both bands managed to build a solid regional fan base (Black Happy and the Daddies were huge even in Alaska) and log respectable sales for self-releases, but on a national scale, they were too much too soon.
"The tenor of that time was, if you had horns, you got no respect," says Perry.
Last year, Black Happy broke up and re-formed as Shoveljerk, shedding its horn section in favor of a relatively anonymous but eminently more marketable guitar-rock sound.
Perry swears he'll never go that route. "My trip is all blues and jazz oriented," he says. "Bent notes and pentatonic scales. And I like the fast, big-band stuff, Cab Calloway, all those jazz cats.
"Whatever I play, it's got to have that jazz feeling of looking out the rainy window at the people going by, that bittersweet emotion of when you're in the middle of the road trip, and you're lonely, and you're broke, but damn, the morning is beautiful."