In the marketing-influenced country music industry where Hollywood glam and lukewarm talent rule, honorable artists are few and far between. While the powers that be may have settled for such mediocrity, the true blue country music fan has not. If you fall into the latter category, it’s time to pack up your disappointments and pop a top, because your honky tonk hopes are about to be renewed.
When I caught up with John to visit about his band’s spring 2014 CD release Everything Except Goodbye, I was already a music fan of John Howie Jr. and his band The Rosewood Bluff. By the time our conversation had ended, however, I was not only a more devout fan of his music, but of the vision that accompanies it. In the midst of label-manufactured acts and imitation twang, John has held on to a respect for the artists, history and tradition that paved the way before him.
John Howie Jr. is not only an artist for the fan to enjoy, but a man to put their musical faith in and here are 15 Reasons why:
1) He does not speak about himself. He is quick to credit his band and support system for any success he may have achieved.
2) He can actually sing. No auto-tune needed. Yes, it’s true, both live and in-studio, John’s is an amazingly powerful and accurate voice. No struggle here, folks. How refreshing.
3) His music already has a timeless presence. I can add his music to a playlist in between the classic Nashville sound of Hawkshaw Hawkins and the truckin’ sound of Red Simpson and it flows without a hitch. That’s a keeper.
4) If Ernest Tubb, Steve Earle and Buck Owens had a baby, it would be John. Yes.
5) He is a gifted front man without stealing the show. There is a somewhat tricky balance between being the leader and not overshadowing the musicians on stage with you. Much respect for this one.
6) He knows only Lefty’s version of “I Never Go Around Mirrors.” Gotta love a purist.
7) He does not realize how good he is. As a matter of fact, he seemed genuinely surprised that someone outside of his circuit in North Carolina noticed him at all, and his discomfort with compliments was obvious. A little humility goes a long way, my friends.
8) He does not sound like anyone else. Let’s repeat this one, shall we? HE DOES NOT SOUND LIKE ANYONE ELSE. If his voice were to come out of your radio speakers today you would not be tempted to ask yourself, “Now, which one is that?” You would know.
9) He is one of the best lyricists I have encountered. Make me both laugh and cry inside six and half minutes with your music? Ok, I’m paying attention. Folks, I hope you will listen to his music simply to be touched by one of his songs.
10) He appreciates and utilizes the influence of multiple genres.His own roots are steeped in jazz, punk, alt rock, and country artists like Jennings and Cash. As a seasoned musician, John has been able to incorporate his diverse influences to develop his own unique style. In other words, he loves Jean Shepard AND The Replacements. Thumbs up.
11) He reveres the steel guitar. Thank you.
12) His live performances are stellar. Let me state that I have not seen him in person, but I have watched hours of live video feed. I can assure you that whether he is performing as a duo with his incredible bassist Billie Feather or with his entire band, this is an artist who turns out an engaging and charismatic set that will have you going out of your way to see him again and again.
13) He knows the difference between the “Little Darlin’ Years” and the “Outlaw Years.” Just saying.
14) One of the first things he spoke about was his family. The musical and personal influences of both his mother and father. The loving support of his sister. The undying adoration he feels for his young son. Enough said.
AND last, but certainly not least…
15) When I asked him, “If you could hang out with any artist (living or not) for a day, who would it be?”
His answer was, without any hesitation, “Roger Miller.” Any questions???
I was privileged to a sneak peak of the new CD and, without divulging details, I will say this: If you are a new fan, you are in store for a variety of tracks like you are not hearing elsewhere. John and his band have mixed up a high-lonesome, country-rockin’ cocktail that will quench your musical thirst. If you are already a believer in John’s music, two words: NEXT. LEVEL.
Watch for the spring release Everything Except Goodbye and keep up with John Howie Jr. & The Rosewood Bluff here: www.johnhowiejr.com.
And watch this:
Billye Merrill is a Missouri native who was baptized into country music by her father who was a touring musician. A passionate advocate for independent and live music, she is the founder of #thenashvillepurist, a new communitypage/blogsite focused on tradition while embracing new roots music. Visit her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nashvillepurist.
Outlaw Magazine. Country, Rock and Roll, Blues, Folk, Americana, Punk. As long as it is real, it is OUTLAW. Overproduced mediocrity need not apply.