Jesse James Dupree, the lead singer of the Atlanta band Jackyl, must have spent a lot of time in the woodshed. He has done for the chain saw what Sonny Boy Williamson did for the harmonica -- taken an instrument previously regarded as primitive and created for it a starring role in blues.
Want to follow in his footsteps? You'll need a chain saw and a blues record. When the singer sings, switch on the saw. When the singer pauses, hit "Off." Thus "I woke up this morning" becomes "Bz bz bz bz Bzzz Bzzz."
The chain saw, of course, is only one Jackyl's claims to infamy. Vulgar language, police presence, recording boycotts -- all appear on this band's resume. And Dupree, it's been whispered, even exposes himself on stage.
The crowd at this show, though, might have wondered about the fuss. Police monitored this group? I think some press agent was making that up.
Jackyl's style could be called down-home heavy metal. Dupree flaunts a head full of waist-length blond hair that would make the Breck Girl switch shampoos.
Still, he can wail with the best of them, as he proved in the opening line to "When Will It Rain?" He's a good storyteller ("My baby weighs 573 pounds. Not 572, not 574, but 573. . . ."). Frequently, he interrupts himself in the manner of B. B. King. "Are you with me so far, Buffalo?" he shouts. "Say 'Yay-huh!' "
Songs such as "Back Off Brother" and "Down On Me" had a good-humored beat, and the band's popular "I Stand Alone" had everyone jumping.
Bubble gum music, however, this was not. Whenever he got the chance, Dupree dragged things into the alley. "I'm here to talk to you folks about masturbation," he proclaimed, savoring that naughty word. Once he established this groove, even such soul cliches as "I'm feeling good this evening" came off raunchy and silly.
You couldn't help snickering in corrupt amusement. Most goofy of all was a metal blues interlude Dupree identified as the White Boy Boogie. "It doesn't matter what country you're from. Anyone can do the White Boy Boogie," he said over the muffled booms of bass and drums.
He went ahead to prove it, pushing his shoulders back and his stomach forward ("arching his back like a barnyard rooster" is how he put it). His damp mane stuck to his sweaty back.
Now, all night (and believe me, I'd been watching) Dupree's jeans had stayed in place -- low on his hips, but secure. As he did the White Boy Boogie, though, he started fiddling with his zipper. My green Catholic-schoolgirl eyes got big. This was the moment.
And indeed it happened -- Dupree dropped his jeans. But he never did turn around. He stood facing away, wearing a G-string. Like the rest of the show, it was worth -- well, a giggle.
Chants and stamping feet brought the group back for an encore. When he returned, Dupree had left his jeans backstage, using his guitar as his fig leaf. When he whisked the guitar away, he was wearing something that looked like a stuffed parrot.
And what did he sing? Well, the encore was called "She Loves My . . ." Let me try that again. The song was titled, "She Loves My . . ." Oh, never mind. Ask someone else who was there. I've blushed enough for one day.
Wednesday night at Impaxx.