Struck, but Rock and Roll Survived
Chris Manson October 7, 2004 Issue
from a broken window, the effects of Hurricane Ivan on Hammerheads
and Poppys restaurants were nonexistent. The Village at
Baytowne Wharf establishments were back serving drinks the following
Tuesday and fully operational by Friday. Best of all, the Howlin
Jacks are performing four nights a week, playing what singer-guitarist
Jack Lowe describes as a mix of Tex-Mex, rockabilly, Cajun,
Lowe may be
the only guy in town who could beat me in a game of rock and roll
trivia. Hes very knowledgeable about songs and who
wrote them, bass player Rocko Heermance said. Heermance
has played with some big namesthe Pointer Sisters, Lou Rawls,
Wet Willie, and Ann-Margaret among othersbut considers Lowe
one of the best. He is very underrated. Jacks fun
to play with, and his believability gets across to audiences.
I saw the Howlin Jacks, Lowe and Heermance were performing
as a duo. The full band includes drummer Tommy Beavers (Asleep
at the Wheel), Joe Fuller (Black Cat Bone), and guitarist Fritz
Froeschner (Two Week Notice, Amy Hart Band). Were
kind of like the Traveling Wilburys of Fort Walton Beach,
Fort Walton Beach Boys! Heermance laughed.
a blood oath not to play anything past 1979, Lowe said.
And despite the inclusion of Marshall Crenshaws 1982 tune
Cynical Girl and a more recent song by Jim Lauderdale, the duo
remains true to their convictions. Their set began with the Everly
Brothers classic Bye Bye Love, and followed with Neil Youngs
Long May You Run (a mock tribute to a car and a girlin
that order, Dave Marsh once wrote). One of the restaurants
patrons requested Van Morrison, and Lowe and Heermance complied
withno, not the overplayed Brown Eyed GirlTupelo Honey
and Into the Mystic. After Tupelo Honey, Heernance looked over
at Lowe and said, I havent heard you do that in a
while. You do a good job on that.
and Lowe tore through a couple of rockabilly songs I didnt
recognize and made another successful stab at Everlys harmony
with a lighthearted Bird Dog. Heermance got to sing Drift Away
before Lowe reclaimed lead vocal duties for Neil Youngs
Comes a Time. Although the acoustic duo format usually conjures
up images of laid back songsters, these guys did quite a few rockers
like Dave Edmunds Sweet Little Lisa and a Buddy Holly medley
that included Oh Boy, Rave On, Well All Right, Peggy Sue, and
Thatll Be the Day. There is a lot of energy in Lowes
strumming and rock riffs, and Heernances bass playing rolls
along mightily. The unpredictable twosome closed their first set
with an unusual choiceIs Anybody Goin to San Antone,
a country tune made famous by Charley Pride.
people get up and dance, Heernance said during a break.
Music is such a beautiful medium. When I started, I was
eight years old. Im 52 now. I didnt get into this
for sex or drugs or alcohol, although I was vulnerable because
I got it for free. Girls would just come up and give it to you.
But its the music. The power. With one really cool signature
lick, people will dance or cryyoure dictating emotion.
No other job they pay you for has that.
linked up with Lowe after the old Howlin Jacks bass player
left for West Virginia. When the season came up again, he
said to come out and play, the bass job was open. I got the name
Rocko when I was with the Great Pretenders. My real
name is Rick, but there were already plenty of Ricks around. So
I named myself after this dog that sniffed peoples crotches
and made a disgusted face. He was trained to do that. Ive
been Rocko since 1985.
of Heernances songwriting creditsnotably What a Wonderful
Waste of Time, recorded by Alabama in 2000 and co-written with
the bands Jeff Cooksay Rocko. Heernance met Cook when
he moved back to Fort Walton Beach. One time someone said,
Play an Alabama song! and I said, They dont
do any of my songs. With the release of Alabamas
CD, When It All Goes South, that statement is no longer true.
Another recent highlight was when the Oak Ridge Boys recorded
the Heernance-Jimbeau Hinson composition Colors, a song inspired
by Heernances Vietnam veteran brother.
also told me he planned to work with the Imperials gospel group
in upcoming months and record some solo material at legendary
Cowboy Jack Clements studio in Nashville.
Lowe has been
at Hammerheads and Poppys for two seasons as the
semi-house band. Heernance said, they virtually built
the band around him. Jacks been doing solo around town for
10 to 15 years. He sat in with me a lot.
The full band
plays on Fridays. You can see the duo or the Howlin Jacks
in some configuration or other Tuesday through Thursday night
starting around 7 p.m. These guys are worth hearing any way you
can get em.
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