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In a town full of musical hermits and legends, it may seem trite to call anyone the town’s best kept secret. But truck-driving rocker Shawn Cripps and his revolving cast of characters collectively known as Limes have been making lovable late-night rackets at midtown dives for nearly a decade with very little to show for it. A couple of singles (one from France, one from Italy) and two homemade CDRs were all that existed until Goner released Rhinestone River last year. Well, that’s not entirely true—as is typical with many Memphis iconoclasts like Alex Chilton, Jim Dickinson and Tav Falco’s Panther Burns, Limes clicked with overseas listeners before Americans caught on, and Cripps’s first album Tarantula did receive a limited CD release in 2005 on a small New Zealand label. Somehow that made more sense than it should have, as Limes’ brand of quirky pop and rock wouldn’t be out of place on a Flying Nun comp from the mid-’80s. Cripps has had a crazy life. For a while, he lived on a boat in the Mississippi River; there were rumors he went a little kooky at some point and wouldn’t listen to anything but Exile on Main Street for months. He was a frequent collaborator with Harlan T. Bobo—the two are both reclusive songsters with more than their fair share of talent and bad luck. Catching Limes live, you never knew who will be there or how it’ll turn out. Could be the best show of the year—or the worst. Sometimes the worse they play, the better the show is. The CD version tacks on the second Limes CDR, 2006’s Blue Blood, a somewhat more laid-back and sly slide through Cripps’s sideways take on life. Long live Limes!
“Rhinestone River takes its time with everything, its riffs, its songs, its sketched-out vistas of Americana on the skids... and, a few listens in, its slow disequilibrium starts to take hold, its tempo makes sense, its mumbled observations start to sound like truth.” —Dusted