FEATURE: The Masked Madness of LOS STRAITJACKETS

Los Straitjackets is an American instrumental rock band that formed in Nashville, Tennessee in 1988. Originally comprising guitarists Danny Amis (formerly of Raybeats) and Eddie Angel and drummer L. J. “Jimmy” Lester under the name The Straitjackets, the band split up soon after forming and reunited as Los Straitjackets in 1994 with the addition of bassist E. Scott Esbeck. Esbeck left the band in 1998 and was replaced by Pete Curry. The current lineup also features Greg Townson on guitar and Chris Sprague on drums.

The band has released thirteen studio albums, four collaboration albums and three live albums.

maxresdefaultEddie Angel was a noted rockabilly guitarist, having moved to Nashville in the early 1980s to record and perform with the Planet Rockers. Danny Amis recorded and performed with the Raybeats, then worked as a sound engineer in Nashville. The two formed The Straitjackets in 1988 with Jimmy Lester, a Nashville session player who had worked and toured with Robert Gordon. They played several gigs during the summer of that year, but soon broke up.

In 1994, they reformed as Los Straitjackets, adding bass player Scott Esbeck. Their first album, The Utterly Fantastic and Totally Unbelievable Sound of Los Straitjackets, was released the following year on Upstart Records. In the post-Pulp Fiction surf revival, the group began attracting a following, though their music is not entirely surf-oriented.

Over the next few years, the band developed a cult following through its tight instrumentation and gimmicky stage shows. When performing live, band members dress identically, wearing black clothing, gold Aztec medallions, and personalized Mexican wrestling masks. Amis (aka “Daddy-O Grande”) is the only member who speaks, introducing songs in fast, badly accented Spanish.

photographer information: Jim Graham 230 North 2nd Street Philadelpiha PA 19106 215-592-7272 jim@grahamstudios.com
photographer information:
Jim Graham
230 North 2nd Street
Philadelpiha PA 19106
215-592-7272
jim@grahamstudios.com

In 1998, Esbeck left the band during the recording of The Velvet Touch of Los Straitjackets and was replaced by Pete Curry, formerly of the Halibuts, a 1980s surf-revival group. In 2005, Lester left and was replaced by Jason “Teen Beat” Smay.

They’ve become known as frequent collaborators, recording Sing Along With Los Straitjackets with a number of different artists. They were nominated for a Grammy Award for their collaboration with blues singer Eddy Clearwater, Rock ‘N’ Roll City.

As time goes on, their stage shows have become more elaborate. Shows frequently feature choreography, guest vocalists such as Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, Kaiser George of the Scottish band the Kaisers, Big Sandy, and burlesque dancing troupe The World Famous Pontani Sisters. In recent years, they have staged festive Christmas Shows during the holiday season.

In 2010, Danny Amis was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He was sidelined from recording and touring while under treatment. Los Straitjackets recruited guitarist Greg “Gregorio El Grande” Townson to fill Amis’ role during his absence.

Los_StraitjacketsIn 2012, Amis announced that his cancer was “under control” and he would return to recording and limited touring with Los Straitjackets in September 2012. This coincided with the band’s new studio release Jet Set and debut of new drummer Chris “Sugar Balls” Sprague.

Los Straitjackets provided some of the music for the independent film Psycho Beach Party, and appeared briefly in the film. They also recorded two albums of music specifically for television and commercial use, and their work is often heard as filler or background music on radio and television shows.

In the late 1990s, Conan O’Brien had the band perform Christmas music each holiday season on his late-night television program.

SPACE MOSQUITOS by LOS STRAITJACKETS

 

SHOWS

Fri 07/17/15 Philadelphia, PA Eakins Oval

Tue 08/04/15 Erie, PA Liberty Park Amphitheatre

Wed 08/05/15 Brighton, NY Downstairs Cabaret at Winton Place

Thu 08/06/15 Wilmington, DE World Cafe Live @ The Queen – Downstairs

Fri 08/07/15 New Hope, PA Havana New Hope PA

Sat 08/08/15 Pawling, NY Daryl’s House

Mon 08/10/15 Bethlehem, PA Various Venues

Tue 08/11/15 Bethlehem, PA Various Venues

Fri 09/04/15 Austin, TX The Continental Club

Sat 09/05/15 Dallas, TX Trees

Sat 11/07/15 Denver, CO The Tivoli