Many years ago – too many for me really to admit and probably not long enough ago for the Wollongong Chamber of Commerce – there was a character on TV called Norman Gunston, one of Garry McDonald’s alter egos. I particularly remember his segment What’s on in Wollongong.
There never seemed to be much on in Wollongong, but it was never as barren as that, now removed, sign slightly to the west of Geelong which heralded “What’s on in Winch!” I miss that sign …
In any case, Norman would have to revise his segments to take The Jacky Howellers into account. The Jacky Howellers have been etching their own path in the blues for nearly a decade. A two-man outfit consisting of Rod Mitchell on guitar, kickdrums and vocals, and harmonica ace Dan Sullivan. The act has been a regular at local and statewide blues and jazz festivals.
The two provide an intimate, relaxed style of blues and easy listening music, paying homage to both deep southern American acoustic traditional blues and contemporary blues.
Rod Mitchell has a widely influenced background, and together with his soulful vocals offers listeners a great atmosphere, one of early blues and roots traditions and authentic blues depth.Supported by harmonica player Dan Sullivan, who also has strong ties to delta legends of yester-year, this act will be a taste for both the contemporary punter and real blues enthusiast.
The name is intriguing, prompting memories of the one and only Jack “Jacky” Howe (1861 – 1920), a legendary Australian sheep shearer at the end of the 19th century. Howe shore 321 sheep in seven hours and 40 minutes at Alice Downs station, near Blackall, Queensland. This was a faster tally than any other shearer had achieved before. In the week beforehand, Howe also set the weekly record, shearing 1,437 sheep in 44 hours and 30 minutes.
What you can expect from the acclaimed duo is a journey back to pre and post WWII black American slave blues, heavy influences from legends Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf & BB King, with a mixture of originals and covers of these legends, performed in an intimate, detailed context.
The Jacky Howellers have recently played at the 2014 Australian Blues Music Festival, have just completed their third tour with Australian blues forefather, Phil Manning, and are playing the upcoming 2014 Sydney Blues & Roots Festival. Along with this they have shared the stage with Ash Grunwald, Fiona Boyes, Ray Beadle and Alison Penney & the Moneymakers.
All of this seems to confirm that those coming along to one of their gigs will not get fleeced!
I personally will be interested to hear them. Recently there have been a number of blues duos gaining prominence. Stringybark McDowell and Rusty Bonnet are well known locally, and Chris Russell’s Chicken Walk’s, guitar and drums, put out more sound and energy than bands double their size.
The Jacky Howellers will be playing at the Sleepy Hollow Blues Club on November 23.
By John (Dr John) Lamp / Proudly Presented by the Sleepy Hollow Blues Club