Chop Tops: big enough for Wikipedia, small enough for Whiskey Dick’s Saloon |

Chop Tops: big enough for Wikipedia, small enough for Whiskey Dick’s Saloon

Tim Parsons

The Chop Tops - Brett, left, Sinner and Shelby - hightail it up the hill Saturday to Whiskey Dick's Saloon in South Lake Tahoe.

The Chop Tops travel 30,000 miles a year playing up to 230 shows. The picture that comes to mind is the rockabilly trio speeding down Highway 99 in a finned muscle car with whitewall tires hauling a teardrop trailer. But it actually drives a 2003 GMC conversion van with a high top and trailer.

“Who knows – maybe when we get rich we’ll be able to pull a ZZ Top and do something like that,” laughed the frontman, Sinner, who plays a stand-up drum kit.

The members each go by one name – Sinner, Shelby and Brett. Coalescing in 1995, the Santa Cruz boys quit their day jobs in late 2006 and hit the road, playing a style of music that captured the country’s attention in 1955 when Carl Perkins cut “Blue Suede Shoes.”

It was, as Sinner says, a marriage between country and blues that invented rock ‘n’ roll, which for a while was considered pop music.

“We grew up listening to punk and surf and rockabilly and psychobilly, like the Cramps,” Sinner said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to open for our heroes we listened to who influenced us. That’s been the biggest kick in the pants for us.”

Rooted in rockabilly but with eclectic influences, the Chop Tops have opened for Dwight Yoakam, Link Wray, John Lee Hooker, Dick Dale, Agent Orange, Dead Kennedys, Angry Samoans.

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“We can literally play an appropriate set in a number of different genres.” he said. “We enjoy this wacky blend that we put together based in rockabilly.”

The Chop Tops have four albums: “Hicks with Sticks – A Town North Of Bakersfield,” “Revenge Of The Hot Rod Zombies,” and “Rebels of Rock ‘N’ Roll, Vols. 1and 2.” The band has played South Shore many times since 2000 including Whiskey Dick’s Saloon, where it plays Saturday, June 18, Hoss Hoggs and in the Casino Corridor.

Shelby used to play his guitar that has a tail with Chris Isaac. Brett plays upright bass and was with several bands in Los Angeles.