There is a rich tradition in the South of oddball characters as entertainment, of schtick and music and storytelling.
It's the "culture" part of Southern Culture on the Skids, the Chapel Hill, N.C., Americana surf band that plays Fulton 55 on Monday.
"We were not afraid to use any and all of that," says singer/guitarist Rick Miller, who started the band 31 years ago with drummer Dave Hartman and bassist/singer Mary Huff.
This is not a parody band, Miller says.
The songs (with titles like "My Neighbor Burns Trash") represent the daily realities of Southern life — for a small niche, at least. "It's Americana from the wrong side of the tracks. Definitely from the wrong side of the track," Miller says.
If there is any doubt as to the band's specific insight into low-brow art, music and culture, the Southern Folklife Collection at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill put together a collection of the band's memorabilia — think instruments, gig posters and photos, plus rarities like a pinstriped La-Z-Boy recliner that's on the cover of the "Plastic Seat Sweat" album — for an exhibit called "Lard Have Mercy! 30 Years of Southern Culture On The Skids."
Steven Weiss, who curated the exhibit, says looking at the band's history is a glimpse at North Carolina's independent rock scene itself. The group's members were students at UNC and the band formed on campus.
For its part, Southern Culture on the Skids celebrates its 30-year history with a 10-date run of California shows in support of its latest album, "Dig This."
The album is an updated re-recording of the band's 1994 album "Ditch Digging."
Also in the works is a 12-inch record of songs the band did with B-52s vocalist Fred Schneider — a guy who knows a thing or two about low-brow music and art. The songs were recorded over the span of a week at Schneider's studio in Florida. "It was kind of a party. It was kind of a work session," Miller says. "It's rare to find people who want to have a good time with their music."
Southern Culture on the Skids, with Jimbo Mathus and The Tri-State Coalition, 8:30 p.m. Monday at Fulton 55, 875 Divisadero St. Tickets: $15-$20. (559) 412-7400, fulton55.com