Give 'em some rock dots: Sierra gets down and rocks
at Dürty Nelly's Pub
Sunday, November 24
It's not often I get to bookend a Sunday in rock dots. But that morning, in a van on I-64 West, drumming Mötley Crüe on the dashboard, I understood why the backseat air guitarists held Too Fast for Love as sacred as their AC/DC vinyl.
After an hour of Vince Neil's caterwauling and Tommy Lee's double-bass drum roll and cowbell dinking, I had to agree– the "diacritical mark of the beast" meant nothing but attitude (see also: Motörhead, Blue Öyster Cult, Hüsker Dü).
That night reprised the umlaut-and-dink experience. I made my way to Dürty Nelly's to see the group Sierra. When I arrived at 8:30, I knew less about the band than the beer commercial mountain range. But I liked the biker bar /smokehouse decor of the place... especially the log cabin walls and the bear head in a baseball cap.
Their set had been going for an hour, but the bartender claimed that Sierra would be playing until 10. Even with breaks, I wondered how they could have generated two hours of playing material. The rock sets at Tokyo Rose and Pudhouse rarely gasp beyond the 30-minute mark.
The crowd was a little more diverse age-wise than corner dive standards, which I liked. Sierra's endurance is thanks to their large repertoire of classic rock favorites: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the Ventures, Jethro Tull, the Black Crowes, etc. The originals also fared well and allowed both guitarists to showcase their solid harmonizing.
Sierra's best tune, which initially bore an unfortunate resemblance to "More Than a Feeling," managed to escape the Boston comparison in the chorus. The tightest component of the ensemble was Sierra's drummer, who employed liberal use of cymbal catches, and in some cases, a cowbell! His percussive mimicking during the covers was on point; "Wipeout" featured a slew of surfy ride crashes.
According to the Sam Hill Entertainment website, Sierra has been playing music for years, mostly in the country and blues-rock vein. I'd bet, if challenged, they could have delivered crowd requests– Hank Williams to Pink Floyd to Cheap Trick (and everything within that mid-1970s Dazed-and-Confused groove).
Also, if they had been given more than six feet of stage space, I expect the guys might have demonstrated "moves" necessary for complete rocking-out, such as guitar sky-pointing and drum stick tossing.
All the Sunday night loiterers present at Dürty Nelly's really dug Sierra; some of the more red-blooded and Bud-emboldened folks even busted a move on the dance floor as the night wore on. With such accessibility, I think they would make a great candidate for Fridays After Five (if they haven't already). Siërra earns some rock dots.
PHOTO BY AMY BRIGGS