When MIDNIGHT HOWLERS guitarist JOHN BAILLIE says his slashing Chicago-style rhythm & blues guitar playing comes with a Texan influence he really means it.
Baillie, playing with his hard rocking trio this Friday night at the Redhead Bowling Club, has spent time gathering licks from Texas, Chicago and New Orleans, drinking at the well spring of the blues.
His brother ROBERT BAILLIE on bass guitar is one of the best, complimented by United States blues legend ALBERT KING for his rock solid but flexible playing style.
With powerhouse drummer ROB COXON, a former member of THE WITCHDOCTORS which also featured the Baillie brothers, the Midnight Howlers have been a hot favourite on the Australian blues circuit over the past 12 months.
The band appeared at both the 'EAST COAST ROOTS & BLUES FESTIVAL' at Byron Bay this year as well as the 'AUSTRALIAN BLUES FESTIVAL' at Goulburn.
Its potent brew of classic blues, modern R&B and classy originals have seen the Howlers grace the stage before international acts such as THE FABULOUS THUNDERBIRDS, CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE, LONG JOHN BAWLDRY, BONDI CIGARS and MAL EASTICK.
IT'S been a long time in the works but HOWLIN', by Newcastle blues band THE MIDNIGHT HOWLERS, has finally arrived, and like a fine wine has been worth the wait.
Recorded live at Overhead Studios by MARK TINSON, with the bed tracks laid at TERRY LATHAM'S studios in Mayfield, Howlin' captures a rich live sound with plenty of depth.
Not even released yet, it looks certain to pick up international distribution through FULL MOON RECORDS (KEVIN BORICH, MAL EASTICK and THE BONDI CIGARS). Listening to this CD is like sitting front row centre at a Midnight Howlers gig, with a bourbon or a beer in front of you, your eyes closed, with a smile on your face and the sun on your skin.
The 10-track disc features seven original tunes by guitarist JOHN BAILLIE and some standards including HOOCHIE COOCHIE MAN, HAND JIVE and MUSTANG SALLY. Baillie's rhythm guitar playing is flawless, warm, rich and vibrant. His lead guitar playing is lyrical, reaching out for the melody in every break.
His vocals are impeccable, dripping with emotion, arriving in short rasping bursts which range from a mid-range vibrato to a heady falsetto.
When it is called for John Baillie, drummer ROBERT COXON and bass player ROBERT BAILLIE are capable of honky-tonk (HOME GROWN), high-rolling r&b (SINCE I AIN'T GOT YOU), down and bleeding blues (BLUES RIVER RISING), a finger-poppin strut (BOTTOM DOLLAR) and a shuffling swing (SETTLE UP). It's a panoramic rock 'n' blues trip.
The Midnight Howlers
Popular alternative/metal bands Silverchair and Segression hail from Newcastle. But the home of the NRL Knights also has the blues. The Midnight Howlers are one of the local, blues bands. They are fronted by John Baillie (lead vocals, guitar and slide) and the two remaining members of the Witchdoctors, John's brother Robert Baillie (electric and acoustic bass) and Robert Coxon (drums and vocals).
The Witchdoctors had some lengthy residences in both Newcastle and Sydney.
Howlin' was recorded during 1999 at Overhead Studios in Newcastle. Mark Tinson and John Baillie produced it. John wrote seven of the songs. Simon Chapman (ex Witchdoctors) adds organ to 'Blues River Rising' and piano to 'Bottom Dollar' and 'Home Grown'. Rex `Honeyboy' Hill adds some tasty harp to Willie Dixon's 'Hoochie Coochie Man' and Johnny Otis' 'Hand Jive. The other songs are 'Settle Up (Before I Settle Down)', 'What Goes Around', 'Since I Ain't Got You', 'Mustang Sally and the title track.
The result is a unique and powerful mixture of swing, blues and R&B. Newcastle has definitely got the blues. On the strength of this release, I believe the guys should have used more of their own material.
BASEQ member, John Bates
THE MIDNIGHT HOWLERS
By Steve "Mac" McLennan
Once again a natural evolution / mutation from one band into another. This began interestingly when John Baillie called me to ask if I was interested in putting together an R & B trio with the bass player from The Porkers. I was speechless. I didn't think John would ever consider playing with anyone other than his brother and bassist supremo "Delta Bob" Baillie. Well the best layed plans of mice & men etc.
We had a couple of rehearsals and the thing wasnt coming together as well as John had hoped, primarily due to the former Porkers lack of empathy with John's absolute passion for the music he was recreating, and his need to have, if not every nuance of the original replicated, at the very least the right key and the right notes. Is that too much to ask ??
Next thing I knew Delta was in the band and we were rockin'. There were many funny trips up and down the coast but we never really recaptured the fervent support that The Witchdoctors had enjoyed. A real highlight for me was being invited to play at The Byron Bay Blues Festival. Rob & John took their families and I caught the bus up so that I could catch up with Graham Whittingham (Idols, Grunge Band, GLB etc.) in Lismore. We caught a bus to the gig the next day.
After our set Graham and I had a puff and cruised the site to check out the main acts. The Baillies and their families left for their hotel. I think Graham and I were among the last people to leave the gig that night and with no transport were faced with a long drunken walk back to Lismore. We didnt have the stamina and eventually broke into a church in the middle of nowhere and slept for what remained of the night.
We managed to get a ride back to Lismore the next day then I was on another bus heading down the coast to catch up with the Baillies for the following nights gig. That night Rob let me sleep on the sofa in his overcrowded hotel room and alotted me a seat in the van for the trip home. Somewhere along the road I was jetisonned (jumped or pushed ??) to be replaced by Rob Coxon, a drummer of rare precision and a true gentleman.