Tropical Heatwave 2010 spotlight: The Ettes
(It’s time once again for Tampa’s biggest, most eclectic annual music festival, WMNF's Tropical Heatwave. All week we’re getting to know some of the most interesting artists on this year’s lineup. Today: The Ettes.)
Their sound: Foot-stomping punk with blues and rockabilly touches.
Check ’em out if you like: The White Stripes, the Black Keys, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Their story: Coco Hames’ basement is dry, which is a relief. But some of Hames’ other favorite musical haunts in waterlogged Nashville weren’t so lucky.
“Some really, really good studios got completely flooded,” said Hames, 28, “which means a lot of classic, collectible gear and guitars were just destroyed. Things that belonged to country greats.” For Hames, the retro-minded singer of Nashville blues-punks the Ettes, that’s a big deal. “I was definitely the only kid in the neighborhood who had a lunchbox full of 45’s next to the bed,” she said.
The Ettes’ core members — Hames, drummer Poni Silver and bassist Jem Cohen — went to high school in Florida (Hames is from Orlando) but came together as a band in L.A. They quickly headed out on the road, “just kind of crashing wherever,” until they reached Nashville, where they landed a gig house-sitting for Ben Folds.
The Ettes made fast friends in the Music City’s garage-rock scene, and began touring with artists like Kings of Leon, the Black Keys and most recently the Dead Weather, a.k.a. Jack White’s new band.
“He’s got a scary, intense persona, and for good reason,” Hames said of the White Stripes frontman, who also lives in Nashville. “But I think anybody who’s ever gotten on his bad side, or gotten their faces punched in by him, must have crossed some cosmic line, because he’s a really cool, tolerant and really smart dude.”
For the petite Hames, a bubbly, open personality who also blogs for Blurt magazine, the idea of maintaining a mysterious, White-like stage personality is less important than keeping the Ettes’ breed of garage punk as intense as possible.
“I don’t necessarily like being misunderstood, but I like being underestimated,” she said. “People are surprised by my creepy blogs or high-pitched voice or how Poni and I are really small ladies. That’s enough mystery for me. Just showing up and blowing your mind — that’s the most fun part for me.”
This weekend: The Ettes perform at 10:50 p.m. in the Cuban Club Cantina.
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*