Henry Rollins runneth over

Spoken word artist Henry Rollins
Henry Rollins in a spoken word performance.

A self-described “spastiqué” who lives in a “utilitarian hovel” in L.A., Henry Rollins ventured west and spent nearly three hours talking politics, humanitarianism, and issues of discrimination (packaged with a bit of self-deprecating humor) to a crowd of nearly 400 at the Babcock Theatre on May 19.

Dressed in black, a glimmer of neon blue color showing on his skate sneakers, the 49-year-old Rollins delivered a powerful dialogue with his extensive vocabulary and sharp wit. With quick dictation, Rollins displayed humor and shared relatable family woes, yet the undercurrent of his speech was much deeper.

A punk rock icon, occasional actor, and spoken word artist, Rollins current tour brought him from America to Australia to New Zealand to South Africa and back to America. Ninety-five shows and 14 countries later, when Rollins landed on the stage in Billings he was bubbling over with stories from his travels.

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Henry Rollins announces ‘Frequent Flyer’ tour

Spoken word artist Henry Rollins
Spoken word artist Henry Rollins

Henry Rollins, the outspoken, culturally important, and politically charged spoken-word artist, musician and actor has announced a 2010 tour that includes a stop in Billings on May 19 at the Babcock Theatre.

The Los Angeles based artist gained notoriety as the frontman for the California punk rock band Black Flag. Rollins fronted the band from 1981 until its breakup in 1986. During that time, Rollins also toured as a solo and spoken word artist, and following the band’s breakup focused on his solo endeavors.

He’s recorded several albums with the Rollins Band, is an author of books, poetry, and magazine columns, acted in several movies, and appeared on radio and television programs including a stint as an MTV VJ.

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Black Flag, SST founder Greg Ginn jams at Railyard

Greg Ginn
Greg Ginn plays bass with his band, the Taylor Texas Corrugators.

Amongst the Chacos and the Chucks, Greg Ginn, best-known for his guitar work with Black Flag and for founding SST Records, performed to an audience piqued with curiosity and unsure what would unfold Saturday night. 

Admittedly, I has no idea what to expect, except not to expect Ginn’s former hardcore sound. Without announcement or embellishes, Ginn on bass, a drummer, and a mandolin player rolled into nearly an hour of bluesy jams before addressing the audience.

“You probably need an explanation,” Ginn said into the microphone. He announced the band was named the Taylor Texas Corrugators and introduced its members, and said, “All right. That should cover it,” and continued the rambling jam. 

After a short break the group rejoined, this time with Ginn on guitar and under a different monicker: Jambang. Darker with hardcore undertones, the songs began simple, building layers of sound into a trembling anxiousness, added to with a drum machine. Ginn’s head rolled back and forth, his legs in a Clash-like London Calling stance, talent jetting from his resilient fingers.

Described as a deliberately cliché on their website, perhaps to mislead the drones of punk followers hoping to capture glory days or a cover of “Rise Above,” Ginn and his band were anything but unoriginal. Able to interject freestyle jazz and blues melodies with a harsh undercurrent of hardcore Ginn pioneered, the Taylor Texas Corrugators were an offbeat group that defied categories, just like the old days.