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From the Country Standard Time Archives

Get plugs and check out Mike Ness

The Cotton Club, Atlanta, June 21, 999

By James Mann

ATLANTA - Right leg planted firmly behind him, cowboy hat pulled low over his eyes, Mike Ness took center stage as if he was expecting a hurricane to blow over the bandstand and wash the band away.

No fear - the energy Ness and crew created would have stopped most any storm. Mainly playing cuts from his debut solo record "Cheating At Solitaire," Ness had the full house roaring from the first notes of "Misery Loves Company" and on through a powerhouse set.

Granted, most of the crowd was there because they are fans of Social Distortion, Ness' day job. Unless leopard skin buzz cuts and nose rings are now country fashion, this was as close as most of the crowd had ever gotten to country music, but they sure took to it this night.

Ness has assembled a dynamite band, with guitarist/steel player Chris Lawrence standing out with tasteful steel runs and blistering Telecaster fury. Playing at a volume level of "stun," Ness had the crowd in the palm of his hand- and seeing a kid with a ball-bearing in his lip shouting along to Hank's "You Win Again" is a strangely satisfying.

Ness might not make So-Cal punks into Grand Old Opry viewers, but ya gotta start somewhere. If you get a chance, buy some earplugs and check out Mike Ness. Tattoos optional.