Tag Archives: Sly Stone

Under The Radar – Howling Diablos

Gonna do me some howlin'...

Gonna do me some howlin'...

If you have heard of The Howling Diablos and have been enjoying their stew of soul, funk, rock and blues, I have one question to ask of you. Why didn’t you tell me sooner?

Al Kooper defined them as a cross between Howlin’ Wolf, Captain Beefheart and Canned Heat, and that’s a damned accurate description, although I’d add a healthy dash of Sly Stone and P-Funk to the mix. Tino Gross’ guttural growls spearhead their powerful sound, with the whipcrack rhythm of Mo Hollis on bass and the legendary Johnny “Bee” Badanjek on drums acting as a thundering pulse. The flavor is peppered by guitarist Erik Gustafson and harp/sax player Johnny Evans. It’s a gritty, urban street sound, tangents of Delta blues, hip-hop and even classic jazz brass bubbling up and popping for a sensual mix.

But yeah, baby, they do rock. How about “Gloria“?

The Howling Diablos have a handful of releases available (I can’t find their early release Beatnick Mambo): Car Wash, Live, Green Bottle, Christmas In Jail and this latest gumbo crockpot, Divine Trash Highway. Featuring guest spots from  Calvin Cooke (sweet sacred steel highlights the opener “If You Love Someone”), Vinnie Dombrowski, keyboardist Jimmy Bones and a host of Detroit luminaries (Bobby East!), this is an album that just oozes groove. “Check It Out” is a perfect example of soul/funk hybrid that makes it impossible to sit still, although it’s the kickin’ cut “Josephine” that really has me bobbing my head like a park pigeon

“Dodge Main” rocks as does the blues blower “Leaving In The Morning”, and even a fairly reverent cover of Randy Newman’s “Mama Told Me Not To Come” succeeds. I’m not as high on “Mom” and “Hobo Jungle”, but I will admit that the latter sounds like mid-period Jeff Beck crossed swords with Sun Ra. “Junkyard Jesus” sounds like the missing sibling of Marah’s brilliant track “Catfisherman” (really – play the two songs back to back – that’s a compliment to both tunes). And if you’re not skanking to the title track…well, there’s something wrong with you.

In addition, they’re included on the Sun Records tribute Good Rockin Tonight (the Diablos cut “Wine Spo Dee O Dee” with a guest appearance from Kid Rock) which led to a film for the American Masters series on PBS that includes a performance by the band. (Reportedly Kid Rock – then Robert Ritchie – was a band member in the embryonic days when the nucleus of the band got together to jam and back up other artists).

Tino Gross also produces records for Fat Possumis that enough cred for you? But as much as their albums are rump-quaking, ass-shaking, rocking good times, like most bands they turn it up several notches when they hit the stage. They’ve toured with and opened for a ton of bands, and although I have yet to sweat in the same room with these guys – and I will – there are visual testaments out there thanks to Al Gore’s invention. All it will take is one song to convince you…check out this video for the song Car Wash. Folks, this is greasy.

Start howlin’!

Howling Diablos on MySpace.

Howling Diablos website.

Criminal Mind” video, from 2009 gig opening for J Geils.

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Under The Radar: The Reefermen

Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

Recorded live at Fifth Avenue Billiards in Royal Oak, Michigan – a stone’s throw from Detroit – this disc captures a superlative group of musicians jamming on some classic rock, funk and blues in majestic fashion. The Reefermen are essentially a power trio plus a harp-wailing front man, and although the material on this live CD are not originals, the songs are “reeferized” for your pleasure. A further blessing is that the tunes are across the board, from B.B.King to The Count Five to Sly Stone to The Doors.

Drummer Jeff Fowlkes and bass player Phil “Greasy” Carlisi create such a thick stew of a bottom end that guitar monster Bobby East is able to fly untethered; when singer James Wallin rips in with harp and percussion it really takes off. East is at once tasty and forceful, equally adept at classic blues, funk and rip-roaring rock. And rock’n’roll doesn’t exist without the roll, kids – and these guys flat out groove.

The band members are all Detroit area veterans with a wealth of experience and are legendary for their lengthy expositions on classic material – Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath medleys are just some of the epic shows heads are still spinning about. (Short excerpts below)

A Night At The Fifth offers ten recognizable blasts from anyone’s past, and while I seem to be getting giddy over a cover band here, consider the pedigree of the players. Carlisi is no longer in the fold, but with Mike B on bass the band still knocks them out in the Michigan clubs and theatres. By all means check them out live, but if you can find this great live document do not hesitate to pick it up.

Reefermen MySpace page.

Reefermen Zep medley February 2009

Reefermen Black Sabbath medley.

Reefermen Beatles medley.

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NEW ALBUM! King Khan and the Shrines

What is? THIS is!

What is? THIS is!

 What Is King Khan? Drop Sly Stone, James Brown, Ike and Tina Turner, The J. Geils Band and Love into a Waring Blender and hit puree – you’ll get a small taste of the manic energy and rock extravaganza known as King Khan and The Shrines.

The band is exploding after several dynamic showcase and festival appearances, but King Khan has been around for several years working in different configurations like The Spaceshits and King Khan & BBQ Show (with Mark Sultan).

What Is isn’t technically a new album; the original version came out in 2007. But as they say on TV, it’s new to you. Read my review of What Is? in Blurt Magazine.

What is? HE is!

What is? HE is!

Jello Biafra introduces the band before they kick into “No Regrets” in full glaiator madness. And then the same song again strripped down for an in-store appearance – and it still rocks!

Homeboy page and Vice Records link.

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