Taking some much-needed time off from work to head down to Florida for a grown-up spring break has proven to be pretty rewarding so far. A few hours after rolling into town on Friday, it was time to jump back in the car and head over to Tampa for the Unknown Hinson show for which I’d been recruited.
The show took place at down and dirty little joint called Skipper’s Smokehouse located in north Tampa. It was one of those places you’d only find in Florida, open air, live oaks looming overhead, sand on the ground, and a mix of people ranging from hipsters to bikers to ladies who look like my Great Aunt Emily. The perfect intimate setting for what was about to take place.
The only thing I knew about Unknown Hinson before the show started was that his sound had been described as Rockabilly and the friend I went with to the show had stated that Unknown Hinson was a god. Good enough for me.
When we got to the show, the opening act, Beebs and Her Money Makers, was finishing up their set. We grabbed some drinks and merch and found a place to stand. A few drinks later, Unknown Hinson came on stage and the crowd went crazy.
The first thing I noticed about this guy was not the widow’s peak, vampire teeth, or eyebrows that could burn holes into your soul, but it was his voice. I recognized it from somewhere, but it wasn’t until my friend leaned over yelled “Squidbillies!” that I understood. Unknown Hinson also does the voice for Early Cuyler on the animated Adult Swim show, Squidbillies.
The set list included such gems as “Talk American”,”Polly Urethane” which includes the lyrics “I’m glad I chose to date you / It didn’t take long to inflate you / I wish I’d known you long ago / Polly Urethane …” and this song called “I Cleaned Out a Room (In My Trailer for You)”.
Along with being the self-proclaimed “King of Country Western Troubadours” and singing songs with lyrics about love gone bad and the dark side of the honky tonk lifestyle, there is one thing that makes Unknown Hinson even more impressive. This guy can shred. His fingers were flying all over that guitar fretboard and the result was pure country western psychobilly magic.
According to legend, Unknown Hinson was an only child named after his father “says right there on my birth certificate—Mama: Miss Hinson. Daddy: Unknown.” He never broke character during the entire show or after the show when he stayed to sign everyone’s posters, stickers, CD cases and boobs. He really cares about his fans and that was impressive to me.
After drinking an extensive amount of party liquor, or as the man would say, “party likker,” I left Skipper’s Smokehouse half drunk and a complete Unknown Hinson convert.