The Nouveaux Honkies‘ record, Where Do I Go?, bounces and swings through its playlist, careening from a bop to a blues groove. Of the times I have seen the band play, the record resembles their performance, with the crowd bopping and dancing along. Songwriter Tim O’Donnell laments their past inconsistency with their live shows, realizing that, in the band’s interest in experimenting with sounds, the audience and the performance were sometimes left by the wayside. The current players, however, gel both in rehearsal and on stage to reflect the sounds you hear on the record and deliver a reliable, fun show.
From his dad’s Frankie Valli and Arthur Brown records (Brown is the guy who used to set his hair on fire), to his self-education on “How to Swing” and “Blues School,” O’Donnell’s interests in music always stretch just beyond his current skills. Once he’s proficient in a way of playing, he pushes himself to explore, experiment, and examine new techniques. This constant striving for what seems just beyond where he is at any moment reveals a creative person’s perfectionism in critiquing his own work at certain stages of the process. In reflection, however, he finds satisfaction with where his music is.
Despite his personal immersion in heavy duty vintage Chicago blues, The Nouveaux Honkies’ music swings more than anything. The band’s goal is for their music to make you smile and feel uplifted because you had fun with them, which is what they achieve both on this record and in the times I have seen them over the past year. Rebecca Dawkins’ fiddle playing brings a little twang into the band, but she especially shines with her stage presence, and is the highlight of their performances.
Songs in Episode 1204 include:
- 3 from The Nouveaux Honkies‘ record Where Do I Go?
- Frankie Valli
- Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble
- a song from Matt Guitar Murphy with Memphis Slim, Bill Stepney, and Willie Dixon live in 1963
- defunct Texas band, Belleville Outfit
- a cover song performed by the White Stripes
- a teaser of Episode 1205 with Tara Nevins solo (also of Donna the Buffalo)