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LIVE MUSIC THE PALADINS : Have Gig, Will Play : They wear enough hair grease to lubricate a fleet of Harleys. And they don't have a lot of nights off.


They are named for that mean Richard Boone character on the classic television Western, "Have Gun, Will Travel," and the Paladins have probably logged more miles than a decade of cowboys in a hurry and Indians trying to stay out of their way.

These rockabilly rockers will be opening for Otis Clay Friday night at the Anaconda Theatre in Isla Vista.

They wear enough grease on their hair to lubricate a fleet of Harleys.

They don't do a lot of slow ones. They don't have a lot of nights off, either.

"We used to play about 250 nights a year, but we're probably doing about 150 next year," guitarist Dave Gonzales said in a recent phone interview.

"We love to travel--we'd rather drive than fly. We get to cruise around and hit all the pawnshops, and we're all into collecting vintage stuff. But we're all getting older and have families, so it's hard to be away so long. So what we do now, for example, is to drive straight through, say, to Nashville, then play every night for three weeks, then come home."

The three Paladins--Gonzales, stand-up bass player Tom Yearsley and drummer Brian Fahey--mix rockabilly, R & B blues and swing into some wild, unrelenting roadhouse rock.

"We play roots rock 'n' roll," Gonzales said. "We're not straight rockabilly or straight blues, but somewhere in-between. We've always been into the old sound. From the Stones we got turned onto Johnny Winter, then from him onto Muddy Waters.

"Besides that old sound, we wanted the old feel, so Tom bought a stand-up bass. We started out in San Diego playing in bars with people like the Blasters, Los Lobos, the Beat Farmers and Mojo Nixon. In fact we were just touring with Dave Alvin, formerly of the Blasters. He'd open up and do some solo stuff, then come back and play with us."

Gonzales said the band's label, Alligator Records, is interested in a live Paladins album, "but we haven't decided about that yet."

In the meantime, there is the real thing, on stage at the Anaconda.

"Hey, we're having fun," Gonzales said.

"We get to do our own thing, and we still have some respect after all these years, and we have some very loyal fans. It's weird, but every night someone comes up to us and says, 'Man, where have you guys been all my life?' Plus we know where every soul food and barbecue joint is."


The Paladins, Otis Clay, Friday at 8 p.m., the Anaconda Theatre, 935 Embarcadero del Norte, Isla Vista, 685-3112, $10.

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