I’ve often stated that it is a rare occasion that one finds themselves with nothing to do on any given night in New York City and while this is not usually the case for me based on the amount of bands to cover I was actually free when the guys in Graveyard BBQ decided to roll into town and fix up some good old fashioned gritty Hard Rock & Roll for the Big Apple. The show would be at Arlene’s Grocery, which I enjoy as a small club because of the feel and sound of the place. I’ve seen both ZO2 and Megan McCauley here a number of times and was looking forward to enjoying some BBQ this time around. I arrived at the club around the same time as the guys in the band and their entourage arrived in what appeared to be one of those old time Winnebago things. The vehicle was loaded to the hilt with friends and fans of the band from their hometown in Waltham, Massachusetts and when the side door opened to let people it the sound was not unlike the bottle of a beer being opened. Everyone inside who was spilling out onto the streets of NYC had clearly enjoyed a fun filled ride. Of course the band and driver seemed fine but I had to laugh as I thought back on band road trips I had gone on and recalled just how much fun they were.
Inside the club and already performing was a band that had come over from Israel of all places and they were in the middle of their set but despite the quality music they were putting out there were less than a handful of folks in the place. They weren’t listed on the advance calendar that I saw so I asked how this could be and they informed me that they were here to play a number of shows and they had just booked this one at the last minute so no one really knew. Their stuff had an almost Smashing Pumpkins, Alternative Rock feel to it and I did like the vibe they had. I am sure that there are a lot of people who want to hear that stuff so I wish them the best of luck in building themselves some stateside interest. Once they had finished, the decorating of the stage began for the guys in Graveyard BBQ and then it would be time to Rock.
Graveyard BBQ: I had only gotten some direction to the band and their music during the weeks that had preceded this show but I had to say that I liked what I had heard because it was your traditional Rock & Roll with that dirty Southern, Blues-core vibe to it. It was a dose of the pure stuff and solid as could be when it came down to it. They are also building up quite a following and I was surprised that their name had not been called to my attention earlier based on the fact that they had won a competition that secured them a song on the soundtrack to the hit video game “Guitar Hero 2”. You know the game with the guitar playing those rocking tunes from Metal and Hard Rock history. I love it, as it helps the genre out all the more and by selling a soundtrack to it are guaranteed to help generate additional interest in the bands who are prominently featured during game play but I digress, this article is about The BBQ. Despite my having some limited background in them tonight was the best way to catch up and get my fill of what they can do because like most other bands, the place that it truly comes alive is on the stage. Once I had found a cool spot in the club to hang out it was time to let the music do the talking to me that I needed.
The band is made up of four guys and from the top we have Howlin’ Jack Boone (vocals), Bud Black (bass), Doug Whitey Trasher (drums) and Brownbag Johnson (lead guitar/vocals) but where they go, it seems that the “BBQ Nation” goes as well, and in that nation are a group of lovelies called the “BBQ Girls”. You know your band is up to some good when you have a whole troupe of beautiful girls coming to your gigs and even giving themselves a nickname. So now the stage was set and the rocking began and from the looks of it most of the songs performed tonight were from the bands second CD, the amusingly titled “Greatest Hits Volume 2”. From the moment the guys hit the stage and started jamming the room was jumping and while a lot of the folks had travelled into town exclusively to see them there was also a number of Arlene’s Grocery regulars who were easily caught up in the bands appealing style. The band is nothing less than energetic on stage and since the performance area at Arlene’s is low and close to the audience, Howlin’ Jack was able to lean right into the faces of his fans who would either scream in approval or offer to help sing some of the choruses. Songs like “The Clothes That Make The Man” and “Ride The Stache” were among their best and when the time allowed I made sure to snare a copy of their CD from their lovely merchandise girl. Brownbag Johnson is a really good guitar player and he has a strong root in the Blues it would seem but when he needed to he was putting forth some serious axe slinger chops. The band’s bassist is Bud Black and he keeps a pretty serious face on while he plays but after the set I found him to be quite the pleasant chap. At one point during the night the guitarists were on top of the bar and just wailing away while everyone scrambled to get some good pictures. It was tough I admit as there was only the stage lights to help out but you should be able to get the idea in our gallery from the event. I think this was for “The Road That Lies Ahead” but I was also getting caught up in the fun and not counting the songs out. Howlin’ Jack kept the banter with the crowd to a minimum but did thank everyone for coming out and I believe it might have been Brownbag who informed everyone in the place that they were from “way down South….Massachusetts”.
As the night drew to its last number, “BBQ Nation”, the entire crowd from the front of the band jumped to the stage and started dancing and singing. This was an easy club to do that in, so it was kind of fun to watch and I am sure this must be insane in a club that they are better known in. As a newbie to their sound I chose to remain down on the floor with the others who were also catching them for the first time. I mentioned that a large amount of the fans who are into the band are female and there is just something so Hair Metal decadent about pretty girls dancing to the Rock and Roll while the band dishes it out right next to them. It was great to witness first hand how affected by their music their loyal fans are and this to me is a testament to the band themselves on how they are doing a good job in giving everyone a good time. The odd thing is that they are still considered an independent band on a small indie label but I am sure if the powers that be are watching that bigger and better things are in store for Graveyard BBQ and those who had believed in them from the start. Good luck guys.
Official Web Site: www.graveyardbbq.com
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