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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Showing posts with label Howell Devine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Howell Devine. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Little Village Foundation artist: Howell Devine - Howl - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Howl, from Howell Devine and it's quite cool. Recorded at the acclaimed Greaseland Studios by Kid Andersen, this release has a great old style yet current vibe. Opening with Sonny Boy Williamson's The Key, Joshua Howell on vocal, guitar and harp melds nicely with Pete Devine on drums and Joe Kyle Jr. on bass. With it's lumbering pace, the track has deep blues roots. RL Burnside's Going Down South develops a rumble with solid bass lines and super vocals by Howell. Kickin it up a notch, Howell drives his guitar hard without breaking Burnside's basic monumental style. Very nice. Sookie Sookie has that great Booker T feel complimented by Kid Andersen on organ but this track is really a showcase for Howell's harp work. Very cool. One of my favorite tracks on the release is original composition, Sirenic Woman with raw slide playing and tom tom heavy drums and exaggerated bass lines by Kyle. Excellent! a traditional cover of Robert Johnson's Come Into My Kitchen will always be a welcome addition to a rough and ready blues release and HD does a real nice job on this one with clean, under exaggerated vocals and real nice slide work. Very nice. Showing broader influences, The Meter's Funky Miracle is a cool break away from the traditional style blues but tight never the less. Andersen, Howell, Devine and Kyle trade riffs like kids with a ball giving the track a real playful feel. Solid. Blind Blake's Rope Stretching Blues is another really nice primitive style cover with particularly sensitive snare work by Devine, complimenting particularly clean guitar and vocals by Howell. Wrapping the release is original composition, PM Blues with solid strong tension on a traditional, SBW style theme. With the addition of Danny Brown on tenor sax and Fil Lorenz on bari sax this is a great closer with a wide open road for Howell's harp work. Very nice.

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Howell Devine

Joshua Howell started playing harmonica when he was 14, and by 17, he was sitting in and cutting heads with blues bands in Oakland, CA. He quickly became the desired house harmonica player in clubs such as Eli's Mile High and Your Place Too, though his under-age status limited his exposure to only those clubs that could circumvent the age restrictions. During this period, he took up guitar, intently focused on learning the slide guitar styles of the Mississippi greats such as Fred McDowell, Bukka White, Robert Johnson and RL Burnside. While living in Santa Cruz, Joshua pursued a successful career in guitar making, developing the Howell & Forsyth Guitar Company. Though he continued to focus on playing music and gigging locally, music as a profession took a back seat to lutherie. It wasn't until he moved to Thailand that he dedicated himself entirely to musicianship, taking on over 15 gigs a week as a solo artist. After three years playing professionally in Thailand's mountainous north, Joshua returned to the U.S. and continued to perform in the San Francisco Bay Area. When he crossed paths with drummer and percussionist Pete Devine, they recognized their similar influences and musical sensibilities. Their common approach effortlessly generated a powerhouse combo of inspired and unaffected blues.
Pete Devine, originally from Maine, started playing drums when he was six years old. Since his move to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1989, he gained a national audience while playing with bands such as Bo Grumpus and Devine's Jug Band. From one of the founding members of Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers to a 20-year stint with the Mal Sharpe's Jazz Band, Pete's musical range is extensive. He also kept busy as drummer for the Jug Town Pirates as well as the gypsy jazz band, Gaucho, for nine years, the latter voted "SF's Best Jazz Band of 2009" by the SF Weekly's reader poll. His ongoing recording career spanning the last 20 years has yielded over 32 records, including a recent recording with Maria Muldaur's Garden of Joy Jug Band, an album that was nominated for a Grammy Award this past year! Pete's unique 'old time' drumming and jug blowing styles have taken him around the country, performing at venues such as SF's Great American Music Hall, SF's Davies Symphony Hall, The Danny Kay Theater in NYC for the JVC Jazz Festival, The Louisville Kentucky National Jug Band Jubilee, The LA Classic Jazz Festival, The SF Jazz Festival, The Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival in Missouri, and the famed Astoria Hotel in NYC, just to name a few.
Safa Shokrai is a bassist and composer. He also plays with local favorites Tin Cup Serenade and sometimes Gaucho, as well as international touring act, Rupa & The April Fishes. In his spare time he composes for Squillo Studios and studies primates.
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