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Bruce Humphries throws it way back on ‘Cool Clad Daddy’

 Four men in Western wear pose near the wall of a highway overpass.
Bruce Humphries and the Rockabilly Rebels

Every week, Milwaukee Music Premiere connects the city’s artists with our listening audience. If you’re an artist with a track you’d like us to debut exclusively on Radio Milwaukee, head over to ourMusic Submission page to learn how.

Malt shops. Long, sleek cars with massive tail fins. Movies with 3D glasses (the red-and-blue kind, not the fancy-schmancy ones). The “Enchantment Under the Sea” dance from Back to the Future.

I experienced none of those things in real life, with the exception of watching Back to the Future several dozen times. But listening to this Milwaukee Music Premiere of “Cool Clad Daddy” by Bruce Humphries and the Rockabilly Rebels immediately conjured those stereotypical images, and I’ll bet my letterman’s sweater it’ll do the same for you.

The ride in the wayback machine shouldn’t come as a surprise from a band that has opened for the similarly throwback stylings of the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Hasil Adkins and other peddlers of the rockabilly sound. “Cool Clad Daddy” flips the calendar back about six decades, complete with lyrics that are impossible not to read as a nod to Sheb Wooley of “The Purple People Eater” fame:

Well I’m sitting on top of the big oak tree
There’s little purple people dancing far as I can see
Dancing back and forth, to and fro
All night long just look at them go

“‘Cool Clad Daddy’ was inspired by a walk (or more like stumble) home from a really good college party,” Humphries explained. “I used to enjoy messing with my own head while in a certain state of mind, and I was envisioning witch faces peeking out from behind trees. With this song, I simply replaced witches with little purple people and pink polka dots. Seemed like an obvious choice.”

The sound is very of the era as well, with Humphries and his band (guitarist Lorenzo Ripani, bassist John Steffes and drummer Kurt Weber) embracing elements that could sit right on top of a Leon’s sundae. Humphries and his Gretsch guitar are the hot fudge of that particular metaphor, taking over the proceedings during a couple solos that make up most of the track’s middle section.

If that’s not enough nostalgia for you, “Cool Clad Daddy” is the first single off upcoming album Live It Up! and will not merely join the streaming masses when the song drops this Friday. In addition, the band will have a CD version on their website and at shows featuring 3D artwork and packaged with 3D anaglyph glasses (the red-and-blue kind). On top of that, the glasses themselves contain a secret code granting access to more 3D fun online.

“I wanted to add a visual component to the audio experience that was more than just simply holding the artwork,” Humphries said. “You can listen to the Rebels, put on your 3D glasses, and it will be just like we are there live and in-person. Too bad I didn’t think about a scratch-n-sniff card.”

We can’t provide that extrasensory experience here, but feel free to hit the “Listen” button at the top of the page to enjoy the audiocentric version of “Cool Clad Daddy.” You can also hear it on 88Nine’s airwaves and at the band’s upcoming shows:

  • June 30 at The Salty Toad in Waukesha from 6 to 9:30 p.m.
  • July 1 at Holla Restaurant in Manitowoc from 4 to 7 p.m.
  • July 2 at Kochanski’s Sunday Funday in Milwaukee from 2 to 6 p.m.
  • July 4 at Waukesha’s Fourth of July Parade, which starts at 11 a.m.
  • July 15 at Port Fish Day in Port Washington from 3 to 7 p.m.