Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Howlin’ Brothers at The Mint, 6-21-13 Concert Review

The Howlin' Brothers performing "Down By The Riverside"
My friends might be tired of hearing me rave about The Howlin’ Brothers. But after seeing this band in concert last night at The Mint, I realize I’ve only just begun (friends, be warned). My expectations were pretty damn high. After all, Howl, the band’s new album, is my favorite CD of 2013 (so far). We got to the venue early. They open at 7 p.m., and we got there a couple of minutes before 7 p.m. Yes, we were the first ones there, which is exactly how I like it. I had my pick of the tables, and grabbed a table front and center. And we ordered our first (of many) drinks, and settled in for the long haul.

The Mint is a pretty good venue to see music. It’s not that big, and there are several tables in the front. And the staff is friendly, which always helps. My brother and his wife bought me a new recorder for my birthday, and I figured The Howlin’ Brothers is the perfect band to test out this new equipment. I’m not big on reading instruction manuals, so we’ll see how it all turns out later.

The opener was Drew Davis, on vocals and keyboard. She’s got a great, emotional voice. I think my favorite tune of hers was “Ohio.”  She ended her set with a cover of “People Get Ready,” a song I’ve always loved in spite of itself.

The Howlin’ Brothers took the stage just after nine o’clock and kicked their set off with “Katie Kline,” and then went straight into “Down By The Riverside.” No stage banter, just right down to business, playing some great songs and pulling in the audience. From there, they did the first tune of the night from Howl, one of my personal favorites, “Gone.” This song is ridiculously fun, and they were clearly having a great time with it.

After that, they talked a bit about their new album, saying that it reached number six on the Americana charts. Very cool, though as far as I’m concerned it should be higher.  They did a little blues number titled “Can’t Be Satisfied.” There’s nothing like hearing the blues played on a banjo.

Some folks were dancing, and to the others, Jared said it was okay if they weren’t up for dancing yet. “All you need is one more drink,” he told them. They then went into “Soldier’s Joy” – “fifteen cents for morphine, twenty-five cents for beer.” You really can’t beat those prices.

They did a couple more from the new CD – “Tennessee Blues” and “Julia Belle Swain,” the latter getting this Los Angeles audience clapping along (without the band even asking – that’s huge in this town – seriously). And Jared was tap dancing on a miked wood plank, playing guitar and singing at the same time. 

A little later in the set they did “Delta Queen,” the one song from Howl that I did not expect to hear because percussion and horns play such a big part in it. But Ian used the banjo as a percussion instrument, while also playing the kick drum. And holy moly, it totally worked.  From there they went into the new CD’s opening track, “Big Time” (which was the one song I was certain they’d play).

The Howlin’ Brothers ended their set with “Dance All Night With A Bottle In Your Hand,” after saying this was everyone’s last chance to dance.

I had gone into this show absolutely loving this band. And I left loving them even more. I highly recommend checking them out whenever you get the chance. And guess what? They’re coming back to Los Angeles in October. They’ll be playing at The Echo. So, friends, you might as well make your plans now. For you know I’m going to be gathering the troops for this one. You don’t want to miss this band.

Set List
  1. Katie Kline
  2. Down By The Riverside
  3. Gone
  4. Can’t Be Satisfied
  5. Soldier’s Joy
  6. Tennessee Blues
  7. Julia Belle Swain
  8. The Illinois River
  9. Take Me Down
  10. My Dog Can’t Bark
  11. Delta Queen
  12. Big Time
  13. Yuma Train
  14. All Night With A Bottle In Your Hand
The Howlin’ Brothers are Ian Craft on banjo, fiddle, kick drum and vocals; Jared Green on guitar, harmonica, wood plank and vocals; and Ben Plasse on upright bass and vocals.
The Howlin' Brothers performing "Tennessee Blues"
The Howlin' Brothers performing "Take Me Down"
The Howlin' Brothers performing "Delta Queen"
The Howlin' Brothers performing "Delta Queen"
The Howlin' Brothers performing "Big Time"
The Howlin' Brothers performing "Big Time"

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