Previously unimaginable reunions continue with the return of the Compulsive Gamblers, who, this August, performed for the first time in six years.
You have to go all the way back to circa-1990 Memphis to chronicle the Gamblers’ humble beginnings: That’s the year that roommates and fellow Painkillers bandmates Greg Cartwright and Jack Yarber recruited bassist Josephine “Fields Trimble” Falcone, violinist Greg Easterly, trumpeter Sunrise Gervis and drummer Bushrod Thomas, and, inspired by the just-built Splash Casino in nearby Tunica, Miss., formed the Compulsive Gamblers.
Now-classic tunes like “Sour and Vicious Man” and “Good Time” first saw light of day in the Gamblers, who also parlayed covers of Joe Meek’s “Telstar” and Tom Waits’ “Way Down in the Hole” into Memphis garage rock anthems. Originally released as 7-inches on local labels Boiler Room and Lemon Peel, the Gamblers’ early oeuvre was ultimately collected onto Gamblin’ Days Are Over, a 20-track CD that came out on SFTRI in 1995. By then, of course, Cartwright and Yarber had formed the Oblivians with Eric Friedl, and, with Thomas in Florida and Easterly in New Orleans, the Gamblers took a back seat, briefly reforming in 2003 with future Reigning Sound members Alex Greene, Greg Roberson and Jeremy Scott.
Earlier this summer, a Gamblers reunion seemed impossible, especially so soon after the Oblivians/Gories European tour. Yet Cartwright and Yarber — with original members Falcone and Easterly, plus Mikey Federline on sax — pulled it off for a locals-only crowd at the Antenna reunion. They’ll do it again at Gonerfest VI, when they perform on Friday, Sept. 25 at the Hi-Tone.