I HAVE SEEN Scott H. Biram play three times, each time with a different girlfriend. The first time was more than 10 years ago, at the Twilight Café. My girlfriend hated everything about Biram, and she dragged a reluctant me away before the show ended. The second was in 2005, at the now-defunct Sabala's at Mt. Tabor. The woman I was dating enjoyed Biram a little too much, asking him to slap her ass after the show, which he happily obliged. The last time I saw Biram was at Dante's in 2010. My girlfriend at the time enjoyed the show well enough, but she and I got extraordinarily whiskey-drunk, and after the show we got accidentally separated from each other. She ended up somewhere on the bus mall, lost and alone, while I was off getting sick in the streets of Old Town.
I tell this story to Biram, and he laughs. "Yeah, that's the way it goes," he says, from his home outside Austin. "People have gotten divorced after my shows. But people have gotten married at my shows, too. It can go either way."
Since the dawn of the millennium, the Texas-born-and-raised Biram has been a self-described "dirty old one-man band," shouting and stomping his way through a mix of blues, punk, country, and metal. Without batting an eye, Biram can follow an earsplitting, profanity-laced metal song with an unabashedly sincere gospel tune.
"Gospel music is feel-good music, above anything else," he says. "It's about rejoicing." Biram's fans return to his shows time and again for exactly that reason, to rejoice (usually in a more secular way), and it's what keeps him on the road 200 days of the year, though he says he's now pared it down "to around 150."
His most recent release, Nothin' But Blood, is his ninth album and fifth with Bloodshot Records. As with previous albums, Nothin' But Blood is like a schizophrenic compilation album of American vernacular music, but Biram's foundation, as it has since the beginning, remains the country blues.
"I'm a blues man, before anything else," he explains. "The blues are the roots of what I do." This sentiment was backed up when his previous release, Bad Ingredients, received the 2012 Independent Music Award for Best Blues Album. I ask Biram if he sees himself ever slowing down and sticking to strictly blues or sad country songs. "I'll always play it all," he says. "I've met country people and blues enthusiasts who had never, before hearing me, listened to metal. And I've met metalheads who've never listened to country. If I can bring metalheads to country and blues, I feel like I've done my job."
Just don't bring your girlfriend.