by Matt Neff Photos by Luke Holwerda
The Willowz and the Detroit Cobras The Clubhouse August 14, 2007 Better Than: Finally living out your dreams and buying that forklift
I had grave apprehensions about seeing a band named “The Willowz” but my fears were entirely unfounded. Apparently they started out in 2002 as garage punkers but now they look like four American high school kids circa 1972 and from the sound of it, they’re of the Sabbath/Zeppelin/Stones worshipping variety. Lots of good to great heavy rock interplay with the perfect leavening of soul and country-folk spices. Singer Richie James Follin has a nice nasally voice that cuts through the thud and thunder and drummer Loren Humphrey has a huge kit which he certainly knows how to use. Bass player Jessica Reynoza tore at the rigging like Blackbeard himself was on her tail, and their lead axe-slinger (Aric Bohn) was a six-foot beanpole with two Strats and a paisley tunic. The kid never looked happier than when he was doddering around on his spindly legs and toppling into the amps like they were a big pile of beanbags, but he managed to maintain a refined counterpoint to Follin’s rhythmic bashings. They ventured into feedback and effects but never let it detract from the main wallop: they stuck to their guns. Spunk and guts and a sense of humor too. A-O.K.
Dan Sartain did not show up, and thus will not be featured in this review.
The Detroit Cobras
The Cobras are a get-down-to-business garage soul rock n roll band of the no-nonsense kind so I didn’t really expect many punches pulled. The rhythm section was of top-notch quality, particularly Mary Ramirez on rhythm guitar: she had a solitary P90 ensconced in her Les Paul but that was all she needed to provide a slicing, thrumming, skittering backbone to the proceedings. She and drummer Kenny Tudrick watched each other closely and kept their respective freakouts tight, powerful, and interlocked. Johnny Lead-Git appeared clothed in an I Love Country Music shirt and clutched a Gretsch lookalike but even without the visual cues it was clear the white man’s blues were hounding his every flick of the wrist. Rachel Nagy is a soul-belter who’ll probably look and sound this good when she’s seventy two yet she managed to maintain a youthful vigor in the face of mortality. They burned right on through Shout Bama Lama, Ya Ya Ya, and all the hits with aplomb and casual ease.
RACHEL SMILES AS KENNY DRIBBLES ON HIMSELF AGAIN
As social creatures they seemed in a good mood and interacted with the crowd like friendly neighbors would, and although it is mid-August and hot as a bitch they managed to keep the negative comments to a minimum. When the thugs in the front row demanded an encore they reluctantly obliged and finally the gluttons were sated. And all in under forty minutes. A-O.K.er.
Personal Bias: It just doesn’t taste like real apples
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Random Detail: Grover Cleveland is still the only president of the United States to ever serve two non-consecutive terms