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The Red Cove; Ventura, CA; 12/31/02

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

It'd been four years since Ventura's legendary SLAM ALICE had played a live show. The band, who have split up and re-grouped more often than J-Lo and her men have, finally got together to play New Year's Eve at the Red Cove in Ventura. Tension was in the air from the beginning: Based on previous Slam Alice shows, the usual questions abounded: Would the band actually play? Would they get through a whole set? Would some of their equipment disappear? Would anybody remember how great they were years ago?

If you think Spinal Tap has bad luck, you don't know Slam Alice. From guitars broken after a shooting to stolen amplifiers to injured bandmembers, Slam Alice is notorious for something going wrong at a show. But, for once, good luck was with them as they said goodbye to 2002 and welcomed 2003.

After a seemingly very nervous Fred Dixon finally showed up at the venue and a forgotten drum piece recovered from Jim Woodall's home, Slam Alice took the stage and, within moments, had the crowd at The Red Cove in the palm of their hands.

Frontman Dixon is an unknowing master of stage presence. He's a natural. Despite his uncharacteristic nervousness (it had been four years since he'd last appeared in front of an audience), Dixon played to the audience as though they were just a big group of his friends, making self-deprecating jokes about age and girth, making fun of his instrumental prowess and telling all, "Hey, we were really big in the 80s." Dixon also wore a t-shirt that stated "Slam Alice still sucks" on the front and "Slam Alice: 2 drunks, a stoner and girth. 1990 - 2002." on the back.

Guitarist Jack Rickman proved that nothing has changed since his last appearance with Slam Alice. Rickman, who has kept busy musically, again played his guitar like nobody else can, his fingers dancing wildly yet apparently effortlessly across the frets and making the thing sing. Rickman is a master who knows when to shred, when to chunk and when to pour on the style. His leads were magical, despite Dixon's repeated statements of "Okay, that's enough..."

Jim Woodall, behind the drum kit, is a drummer's drummer. Woodall may not be the timing machine that a Neil Peart is (then again, maybe he might) but he's a powerhouse when it comes to the band's backbone. Woodall was pounding his drums so furiously they were shaking as though they might collapse at any moment (he later told me that he was concerned throughout that they would do just that.). Woodall plays with an furious power that fits well with the band's thrash/punk/metal sound.

The show ended with the classic "Taco Bell" and with Dixon's bass crashing to the stage and Dixon himself tumbling into the drum kit. Hey, a Slam Alice show without any violence would hardly be worth going to.

As mentioned, the Red Cover audience was into the band throughout and, after the show, they were approached by other bands regarding the possibility of future gigs. Let's hope that Dixon's shirt and it's "1990 - 2002" meant "so far."

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Copyright 2002 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:16 -0400.