John Howie Jr and The Rosewood Bluff’s “Everything Except Goodbye”
John Howie Jr. was North Carolina’s torchbearer for classic country music for over a decade with his former band Two Dollar Pistols. He reemeerged with John Howie Jr. and The Rosewood Bluff and released an excellent debut album Leavin’ Yesterday in 2011. Their just released follow up album, Everything Except Goodbye, (Hands Up Records/2014) continues to do what John does best. He has never played your lowest common denominator country radio music. No pickup trucks or red Solo cups, no alt- or neo-: this is vintage country and there’s nothing retro or ironic about it. The Rosewood Bluff delivers country music inspired by breaking hearts, hearts broken and hearts beaten only to move on and break or be broken again. Pick up Everything Except Goodbye, and take a cross-country trip serenaded by John’s instantly recognizable baritone with stops in Nashville and Bakersfield with an overnight stay at the Heartbreak Hotel. If you’re a country music fan of a certain age it isn’t too hard to imagine Buck Owens and Roy Clark announcing “Welcome to Hee Haw with special guest John Howie Jr. and The Rosewood Bluff” (and yes youngsters, that’s a compliment). If that sounds like hyperbole, consider that John Howie Jr. and The Rosewood Bluff opened for George Jones at Durham’s Performing Arts Center in 2012! Highly recommended!
HB-Another great disc John! The tough part first: The tragic loss of your drummer Matt Brown. I felt my heart in my throat when I popped the disc out of the cd case and saw the photo of you and Matt beneath it. A very nice touch.
JHJr-That’s been incredibly tricky on a number of levels, as you might imagine, but dedicating the album to Matt was the least we could do considering the amount of time and energy he spent making my songs sound better than I could have ever imagined. I miss him terribly. It’s a testament to how well-loved he was/is that hundreds of people attended the Matt Brown Memorial Concert in 2012. He was an amazing support system, musician and friend. I think of him every day, and I feel certain I always will.
HB-I know this record was a Kickstarter project. It must feel nice that your fans are willing to directly support you and your music.
JHJr-Feels great, and lord knows we appreciate the support. We came in $2000 over the amount we were shooting for!
HB-I really enjoy your work on drums with Michael Rank and Stag but I’m happy to see you out front again John.
JHJr-Thanks! When Michael first asked me to play drums for him in 2002, I had given up drums years before to do the Two Dollar Pistols. Now when he asks me to play with him, it’s great because I dig his tunes, we get to hang out AND I get to keep up my drum chops.
HB-Speaking of Michael Rank, you and he share a couple of musicians in your bands: Nathan Golub and Billie Feather. You must feel pretty comfortable playing with them in two different bands.
JHJr-They’re two of my favorite musicians that I’ve ever played with, so I can totally understand why they’re in demand.
HB-Filling out the Rosewood Bluff are Dave Hartman (from Southern Culture on the Skids) and Tim Shearer on guitar.
JHJr-Two more of my favorite musicians! The lineup these days is incredibly strong, and if I say so myself, the proof is in the pudding. Nathan, Billie, Tim and Dave all came in completely prepared for the recording, and it shows in the final product. We made that album – including mixing – in about 8 days. And it’s my favorite record that I’ve been involved with at this point. It’s an absolute honor working with that band.
HB-I’ve always been impressed with your songwriting John. You cover Mickey Newbury’s “Why You Been Gone So Long” on “Everything” and I’d bet a bunch of people will think it’s a John Howie original. That’s pretty good company and strong praise for the ten originals on the disc.
JHJr-Thanks for the compliment there, really appreciate that. We’ve been doing that Newbury tune since the early days of the band, and though I’m aware that a ton of folks have covered it, I really dig the way the band plays it, so I thought it made a worthwhile inclusion. I remember seeing the Desert Rose Band play it at the Carrboro Arts Center back in 1990 and loving it then. Who knew that 24 years later I’d be covering it with my own band!
HB-I think my favorite track is “Suspicion”. What a great song!
JHJr-Thank you, I love the click-clack upright bass sound on that track. That was the first song that I wrote specifically for an arrangement with upright bass. Billie had just joined the band, and she’s such a great upright player, that I wanted to really utilize that. Woke up one morning with the chorus in my head, and BOOM! Off and running, it was done by the end of the day.
HB-You produced “Everything Except Goodbye” with Rick Miller (Southern Culture on the Skids) at Kudzu Ranch in Mebane, NC. You must just about be neighbors.
JHJr-The studio is about 5 miles from my house, and when you live in the country a five mile distance makes you neighbors! He did an outstanding job, he’s a magnificent producer, really, I can’t say enough good about him. Fantastic.
HB-A highlight of every North Carolina summer is catching you and your band live at an outdoor show. Do you have any shows booked to support the album? Is there an album release party scheduled?
JHJr-The album release is April 12 at the Cave with Magnolia Collective, and we’re doing the Saxapahaw Farmers Market on June 14, the Kraken on June 27, with more shows being added all the time. Check out www.johnhowiejr.com!
HB-Thank you John and best of luck with the new album.
JHJr-And I thank you, sir!