By Julie Garisto
Formed in late 2006, Nervous Turkey uses punk to rough up the blues and finishes it off with Tom Waits gruff to make it a touch disturbing. The fowl-mouthed trio from Tampa has become known for fierce performances that attract the hardiest of rockers and boozehounds. They draw influences from Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Captain Beefheart and Butthole Surfers. With Ernie Locke on vocals, harmonica and guitar, Aaron Fowler on drums and Mark Cunningham on organ, Nervous Turkey released their first LP, Fat Boy Likes to Roll in August. Singer Locke answers questions between duties involved with the opening of his new restaurant, Ella's, in Southeast Seminole Heights.
You guys take the tried and true and make it weird like nothing else. What do you do to stand apart?
We like to think that Nervous Turkey is Booker T and the MG's and Howlin' Wolf being chased into a chicken coop by Jon Spencer — and all locked up by Tom Waits. It's an exotic three-piece with no bass and guitar. We dement the blues into a punk rock stew but we keep the good things about the blues, like the show. We don't stare at our shoes.
Describe your previous bands and describe what you borrow and change from your work in those bands.
I played in punk blues bands in the Midwest for 20 years. One made it big in the '90s, Tenderloin. I use all the showbiz tricks to keep our followers entertained — jokes, making funny faces delivering the goods. Yanking off my shirt and rolling around on my belly like a reptile, pretty standard stuff.
Where does the band name come from?
We were drunk in La Teresita, blabbing about the horrible life trek a turkey has. They all look a little strung out around Thanksgiving, especially the one turkey the president pardons every year.
What makes you nervous?
The sheer power of rock 'n' roll.
What makes you turkeys?
Sexy ladies who dance at our shows.
Tell us about your initial bromance.
Aaron knew us and got us together. We are very happy playing, that's it. We don't care what people think; we just do it, and do it hard.
Is there a lack of grit and soul in newer music, or are the complainers not looking in the right places?
The world today is oozing buckets of grit. People need to look harder or come to see more live original music. There hasn't been a better time to play the blues.
Hear them: Friday night at 9 when they open for blues legend T-Model Ford at Dave's Aqua Lounge, 10820 Gandy Blvd. St. Petersburg. $10. (727) 576-1091.