The drummer rambled through a Mexican introduction that ended with two intelligible phrases, "Tex-Mex Rock 'n' Roll" and "Joe King Carrasco." The crowd cheered and Carrasco sprang onto the stage wearing a red crown straight out of an Imperail margarine ad.

For the rest of the set, the wiry Carrasco never got the Mexican jumping beans out of his legs as he continually hopped around the state, jumped off it, and moved from table to table, Fender Telecaster in hand. What Carrasco and his band, The Crowns, offered was an exciting and irresistible '80s chapter of the continuing saga of the Tex-Mex musical combination plate. '

Carrasco touched base with his Texas roots -- Sunny and the Sunliners, Buddy Knox, Roy Head and Question Mark and the Mysterians. Kris Cummings' pumping Farfisa organ grounded everyhting the '60s punk, especially recalling Augie Myers' work with the Sir Douglas Quintet. In "Mezcal Road," the band even found room in its punky ethic for some of the polka-based sound of Texas' Norteno bands.

The band wasn't selling the past, though, and the rhythmic drive of "Puffenuff" gave the crowd a pretty good idea of what the Ramones might have sounded like if they were from Laredo instead of Forest Hills. Like another great Texan, Sam the Sham, Carrasco is a great musical sham himself and the best kind, an honest-to-goodness American one.