THE CASHMAN COMETH: It has been nearly three months since Chick Cashman the Swinging Cowboy and his band the Countrypolitans took over Wednesday nights at Club Congress, putting on a show that Chick describes as a "borscht belt nightmare."

"I was a little bored, so I started up the vaudeville/burlesque show. Every week I have different performers, either local musicians or out-of-town musicians, flame throwers, and burlesque strippers. I've got a drag-queen comic, Lucinda Holliday, who is absolutely hysterical," he tells me, leaning back in his chair, "and the Amazing Vavinco, the Soul of Buenos Aries, is a favorite."

Chick concedes there have been a few lame nights, but the band is getting better and more people are showing up every week.

"The show is changing all the time. We've never put on the same show twice," he says.

What we want to know is where he finds this talent.

"They've been coming out of the woodwork lately. I've got hand-clappers who fart songs with their hands, hula dancers and all these other bizarre acts. I was searching them out for a long time, sort of creating half of them just so I would have something. I had to break down some inhibitions to get some of them to perform in front of a crowd," he confides.

"People come up and give me phone numbers now and I get a lot of messages on my answering machine that start off with 'You don't know me, but...' so the word is out."

In his initial production, the three dancers with whom he had been working mutinied against his instruction to place the emphasis on burlesque rather than "T&A."

"They thought they were going to get tips and weren't doing it as a performance, they were doing it as strippers, and they were courageous," reacalls Cashman, "but they made a dollar."

Determined to correct the situation, Chick did a little bump and grind himself.

"I'm Bob Fosse," he says matter-of-factly, "I show them how to dance, how to do the routines, what I want and don't want. The last couple had a good aesthetic, so they didn't take a whip and a chair. I see it as more of an artful thing, and I'm putting a lot more emphasis on the costumes."

pix Cashman says he was accused of exploiting women after the first show, but all that died down after subsequent shows.

"I wouldn't ask anybody, male or female, to do anything that I wouldn't be willing to do, or that I would find objectionable," he says.

He does like to dress up--whether it's in a nice suit or drag. His shows are naughty as opposed to obscene. They've tried some Jim Rose type things in the past, but he prefers to stay away from the modern primitive in favor of resurrecting nearly lost art forms.

When asked his thoughts on media over-saturation and our lost sense of humor, Cashman waxes philosophical:

"The humor part of anything is important. Today everything is so exposed--we're looking at fallopian tubes and cervixes and at this point we've replaced the erotic with a medical diagram. I don't want to look at anybody's tonsils from their vagina, but that is what is being mass marketed.

"It's a matter of training the public to tone themselves down and learn how to have a good time with (the risqué) rather than it becoming a perverse obsession. Those kind of obsessions aren't that fun or interesting."

...and his thoughts on slimy politicos like Sen. Bob Packwood:

"Just by his name everyone should have known," laughs the usually unflappable Cashman. "I mean, it was spelled all over him."

Cashman will be in New Orleans next week scouting talent for his show. He'll be back the following week and would like everyone to check out his next show in late January. Bring an open mind and your sense of humor--and be sure to order up a Countrypolitan drink special.

LAST NOTES: On Friday, January 12, Itchy Foot Moe's, 150 S. Fourth Ave., presents the D.R.I./Acid Bath Tour 1996. D.R.I. is short for Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, who've been serving up hard-core-punk-thrash for the past 12 years. Their latest release, Full Speed Ahead, is their eighth album and is everything you've come to expect from this band. Acid Bath has risen from the Louisiana swamps to cook up a gumbo of hardcore, gothic, psychedelic, punk rock. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 day of show. Show time is 7 p.m. Call 622-2009 for more information.

Those of you starving for blues and salsa will be pleased to hear a "powerhouse blues and jazz weekend" opens Friday, January 12, with Minneapolis swingsters R.J. Mischo and His Red Hot Blues Band. An anonymous guest opens the show at 8:30 p.m. Saturday's line-up features be-bop jazz by the Ed Ulman Quartet with Mary Redhouse; and get ready Sunday night for a double-bill with the only other hot item in a Minneapolis winter, the "Have Mercy" Percy Strother Band. All shows start at 8:30 p.m. at Pappy's Lounge, 375 S. Stone Ave. Cover is $3 tonight and Saturday, $5 Sunday. Call 882-8908 for information.

And all you nostalgic knuckleheads listening to that new all-'70s-all-the-time station won't want to miss Eddie Money on Sunday, January 14, at The Outback, 296 N. Stone Ave. Tickets are $12 in advance, $14 day of show. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 9 p.m. Call 622-4700 for more information. TW

--Jennifer Murphy
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