Uncle Leon and the Alibis

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“Uncle Leon and the Alibis Play First Ever Show in Bloomington”

June 14th, 2010

From Examiner.com – Bloomington, Indiana

by Leah Drichel

Leon Chase (Uncle Leon) of Uncle Leon and the Alibis

“Roller Derby Saved My Soul”. If you’re around roller derby long enough, you’ll hear this slogan (which refers to a popular song). You might not know that this phrase was coined by Uncle Leon (Leon Chase), lead singer of Uncle Leon and the Alibis. The band played their first concert in Bloomington on Friday, June 11th at Bear’s Place on 3rd St. as part of a Midwest tour.

When asked how he came up with “Roller Derby Saved My Soul”, Uncle Leon says, “If you listen to our song ‘Hot Rod Mamas’, I sing about how I was never into the cheerleader-type girly girl. When I visited Texas, I discovered roller derby. My friend was doing the video for the Gotham Girls Roller Derby in New York City and I told him he needed some music to go along with it. This is when I wrote ‘Roller Derby Saved My Soul’. To be honest, it was just a little joke – like a southern preacher type thing. But then the roller girls started grabbing onto it and began to take it seriously.”

The band consists of four members. Uncle Leon is the lead singer and plays “crappy guitar”. While he may think his guitar work is crappy, his voice is far from. Uncle Leon’s voice is smooth and reminiscent of Johnny Cash. In fact, one might think they’re actually listening to The Man In Black at times. Neil Magnuson is on bass and back-up vocals. Neil is a lot of fun to watch, especially when he’s putting all he’s got into his back-up singing. Charlie “Chedda” Aceto seems shy, but if he can be induced to conversation, one will find that he loves all things artistic and creative, as can be seen in his tattoo-adorned arms. It’s as if the exquisite art on his sleeve magically drips into his fingers. To say this man is a great electric guitar player is one of the most colossal understatements ever made in this column. And the “new guy” is drummer Dave Varriale, who hasn’t been with the band for long, but could easily vie with the others for the title of “Band Eye Candy”. More importantly, he’s an excellent drummer. Together, these four make up a band that will change the way you look at country music. Or any music, for that matter.

According to the band’s own website, “Uncle Leon and the Alibis seem bound and determined to knock current ‘country’ music off its slick high horse, and kick its ass all the way back to the gritty honky-tonk roads it grew up on. But don’t let the retro roots fool you: For every classic-sounding country shuffle, there’s a Cramps-style freak fest, or a fuzzy, punked-out Stones cover waiting to happen. And for every heartfelt love ballad, there’s a beer song, or a monster truck song, or the infamous country-fried cover of ‘Baby Got Back’.”

The music of Uncle Leon and the Alibis is fun and quirky and original. But there’s a bit more depth to it than the casual listener might realize at first. For girls that don’t meet the fashion-magazine, media-driven stereotypes of the current culture, this band and their music have the power to instill or awaken confidence. The repeat referrals to Uncle Leon’s preference for a woman with “a brain in her head and some meat on her ass” (“Hot Rod Mamas”), as well as the band’s obvious love of the roller derby culture, which presents women as strong, tough and sexy, could lead a female fan who has previously felt undesirable to actually believe that she is beautiful and sexy. In our waifish, diet-driven society, any “larger” (i.e. “normal-sized”) woman will agree that this is an extraordinary feat. So why not pick up the album and have a listen?

Uncle Leon can be found on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and the web. “So many fans assume that there is some big booking agency or process to go through. The truth is…if you want us to come play a show, we will do it if we can. You just have to get in touch with us,” says Leon. Uncle Leon and the Alibis will play bars, bouts, after parties, you name it. And they love anything roller derby related. Booking could be as simple as clicking “Send”.

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Filed under: Live Reviews, Press

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