HowellDevine, the massively talented NorCal trio, became the first blues band Arhoolie Records (Fred McDowell, Lightnin' Hopkins, Big Mama Thornton) signed in 27 years. Triple threat talent Joshua Howell (slide guitars, harmonica, voice) and percussion savant Pete Devine (drums, washboard) plus snappy doghouse bassist Joe Kyle Jr. deftly mix sinuous Delta/country blues with wildly syncopated rhythms to create a rollicking present day sound from the past.
HowellDevine breaks from the norm, providing rich and complex textures integral to the music rather than simple backing for a soloist. The result is a sound which stands in stark contrast to the typical blues heard in bars these days and would more likely be shaking the floors of a Southern juke joint some 70 years ago.
Joshua Howell (Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica)
Within three years of starting harmonica at the age of 14, Joshua was sitting in with many of the San Francisco Bay Area's blues bands. 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 techniques 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 (Drums & Washboard)
Originally from Maine, Pete started playing drums when he was six years old. Since his move to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1989, he has 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 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. 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.
Joe Kyle, Jr. (Upright Bass)
It was during the Great Swing Wars of early-1990s San Francisco, when gigs were plentiful, public cigar smoking was legal, and vintage clothes were still cheap, that Joe was fortunate enough to have been drafted into musical service. Since that time he has become an in-demand player known for his superb feel, musical agility, and adaptability. Joe has been touring and recording with the Waybacks since mid-2001, and in such capacity has shared the stage with a host of notable roots music heroes including Bob Weir, Sam Bush, John Cowan, Joan Osborne, Jerry Douglas, Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, Danny Barnes, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Grace Potter, Mike Marshall, Darol Anger, Jim Lauderdale and Bela Fleck. He might be the only bassist to have played with Martin Denny, Al Kooper AND Pinetop Perkins, although not at the same time, sadly.
Tickets are $20 and are available in advance at the link below or at the door on the night of the show. Doors open one half hour before show time. We accept cash only at the door (ATMs are nearby).
The Back Room is an all-ages, BYOB (for those 21+) space, dedicated to (mostly) acoustic music of all kinds. You are welcome to bring your own adult beverage with no additional corkage fee. If you need more information or have any questions, please call us: #510-654-3808. Thank you for your support!