Where’s the Bubba in Bubbapalooza?

The Star Bar presents Bubbapalooza, an annual three-day music festival celebrating both the “Redneck Underground” and the memory of its patron saint, Gregory Dean Smalley, who passed away in 1996. But the 2002 schedule has raised some eyebrows by interspersing its country/rockabilly fare with liberal doses of hard rock and off-the-wall acts including Lust, Gargantua and Greasepaint.

All of which has prompted some longtime observers to question whether there’s enough “Bubba” in this year’s Palooza.

“The lineup gave me pause,” admits Smalley’s mother, Nancy Floyd, who attends every Bubbapalooza as an honored guest. “Each year, though, I keep reminding myself that it has to change, as everything does — especially since Gregory is no longer with us to devote his time and energy to Bubba. I am very glad that Slim Chance, the Blacktop Rockets and Redneck GReece continue to participate.”

Staunchly defending the 2002 schedule is musician Jim Stacy. “This is the way Greg booked the first Bubbapalooza,” asserts Greasepaint’s drummer/vocalist, who recently became part owner of the Star Bar and whose own punk band, the LaBrea Stompers, played the debut Bubba in 1992. “Greg caught hell because we weren’t ‘country enough,’ but he said we were bigger rednecks than any of those guys. The point is that Bubbapalooza celebrates what goes on at the Star Community Bar, not at Mama’s Country Showcase.”

“Bubba is a state of trashiness,” adds Barbara G. Smith, bassist of the colorfully costumed punk trio Lust. “It’s all about being sorry, really. I don’t mean sorry as in boo-hoo, but sorry as in trashy, fun and, yes, many times just plain stupid.” As a special nod to the festival’s country roots, Lust promises a “barnyard” theme for its Saturday performance.

“It’s been established at Bubba for a few years that Friday is the rockabilly night, Saturday is rockin’ and Sunday is more country,” notes former Truckadelic guitarist Billy Rat, whose wife, Heather, was primarily responsible for booking this year’s event. “Greg conceived Bubba to showcase all genres of music that were outside of the main loop. He loved anything that would make audiences drop their jaws, whether it was a fire-breathing guitar solo or pretending to butt-fuck a Thanksgiving turkey with unwrapped Tootsie Rolls falling out its ass.”

“Sure, things have changed some,” concludes Clete Reid of the Holy Smokes, who are scheduled to play Sunday. “But the Star Community Bar is essentially the same place I walked into 10 years ago for the first time, because the people that go there and work there are still pretty much family. I figure it will be Redneck Underground headquarters for as long as Telecasters are still being plugged into old Twin Reverbs and [head bartender] Tim is still getting up onstage to sing George Jones songs.”

Bubbapalooza happens Fri.-Sun., May 24-26, at the Star Bar.??