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Deke Dickerson & the Ecco-Fonics

One man towers -- literally and figuratively -- over the West Coast retrobilly scene, and that man is Deke Dickerson, the good-natured guitar god from Burbank. After carving out a name for himself as a teenage axeman in the garage-surf outfit Untamed Youth, the flattopped, 6-foot-2-inch titan achieved legendary status for his Joe Maphis/Jimmy Bryant-derived six-string wizardry in the Dave & Deke Combo, a hillbilly-boogie act that toured worldwide and backed up rockabilly old-timers such as the Collins Kids. When the Combo broke up in the mid-1990s, Dickerson signed up with the local HighTone label, and delved deep into oldies rock and doo-wop on a series of solo albums full of the old nudge-nudge, wink-wink.

Deke's latest romp, Rhythm, Rhyme and Truth, sidesteps the flashy solos that dominated his last couple of records in favor of solid songwriting. Highlights include "Give Me a Brunette," a chick-watching song written in response to the countless ditties fetishizing redheads and blondes, and the hilariously macabre "Where to Aim," in which Deke ponders whom to shoot -- his ex-girlfriend or himself. As on earlier albums, guest stars abound: The Calvanes, an old-time doo-wop group that shares Dickerson's affinity for the kind of '50s sounds that never made it onto the American Graffiti soundtrack, make a particularly choice appearance.

This Friday, Dickerson shares the stage with local Americana act Red Meat, whose new album explores the outer reaches of the country novelty song. Produced by roots-rock guru Dave Alvin of the Blasters, Alameda County Line is the brightest and sleekest Red Meat album to date, capitalizing on the band's pop sensibilities and considerable chops.

Aime Joseph


Friday, Jan. 5, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door; call 885-0750. Dickerson also performs with the Torpedoes Saturday, Jan. 20, at 9:45 p.m. at the Starry Plough, 3101 Shattuck, Berkeley. Tickets are $8; call (510) 841-2082.

Sample of Deke Dickerson and the Ecco-Fonics' "(If I Go to Heaven) Give Me a Brunette," from the CD Rhythm Rhyme and Truth. Click the "play" icon in the control console below.

<p align="center"> If your browser doesn't display a control console, <a href="http://www.sfweekly.com/media/2001-01-03/dickerson.mp3"> download the MP3 file</a> to be played by a separate application. </p>

Find more information, or order the CD, at www.hightone.com/deke.

Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk), S.F.

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