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.