Roots

Unknown Hinson

When: Sat., May 2, 8 p.m. 2015

Hinson first gained notoriety for his guitar-pickin’ creepshow act on public access TV in the Southeast. He began touring in the early 1990s, insisting that he’d been locked up for various crimes and wanted to reclaim his stature as the man who taught everybody from Elvis to the Beatles how to play. His set list couples classic covers featuring Unknown’s impeccable fretwork with novelty original tunes that fall somewhere between demented rockabilly and ‘60s-era Chet-Atkins-produced tearjerkers. Hinson’s fans include some pretty famous folks ­— Hank Williams III even has Hinson’s mutton-chopped mug inked on one bicep, and Unknown’s opened for alt-country and psychobilly acts like Reverend Horton Heat when he’s not headlining smaller rooms.

Hinson’s pompadour, fangs, pistol and jet-black suit make for a pretty campy comic presence onstage, but when Unknown starts soloing, the joke’s over: this “hillbilly vampire” can keep pace with the best pickers in the business. He’s also the voice of Early Cuyler in the animated show The Squidbillies on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, and Reverend Guitars has issued a signature-model axe commissioned by Hinson, complete with vampire-bat fret markers and a silhouette of Hinson’s hairdo on the headstock. (You can buy another version of the instrument without the graphics: it’s called the “Stu D. Baker.” Get it?)

Price: $20 advance, $25 doors

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