The Howlin’ Brothers

Don’t be misled by the fact that the Howlin’ Brothers made their bow on Brendan Benson’s Readymade Records label. Howl has nothing to do with the modern pop motif that Benson is known for, both on his own and as a collaborator with Jack White in the Raconteurs. Howl is a traditional album in every sense, a combination of unabashed bluegrass and stomping, swampy blues that pays allegiance to authentic Americana origins. A rousing combination of banjos, fiddles, mandolin, and ragtime revelry, the album provided first-time fans with a spirited display, one that quickly morphs into other arenas beyond their basic string band template. The decidedly Band-like designs implied by “Delta Queen,” the boogie and bluster of “Tennessee Blues,” and the jaunty, devil-may-care, happy-go-lucky strut of “Just Like You” all affirm the trio’s multihued sensibilities. A new EP, The Sun Studio Session, further reflects their retro leanings. Recorded at the famed Memphis studio that gave the world Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis, the album offers vivid proof of the Howlin’ Brothers’ allegiance to their homegrown roots. Singer Jared Green says of the release, “Going back to the basics is what we’re trying to do. Playing as a trio gives us the freedom to be more expressive with the music. Whether it’s in the dynamics or in the groove, there is something very satisfying hearing just three or four acoustic instruments jam together. We like to play loud, and we infuse a lot of the blues in the songs.” It suffices to say, then, that in a day and age when pretense is everywhere and ostentatious attitudes abound, the Howlin’ Brothers provide a remarkably fresh and unassuming change of pace. Like the origin of their name, Green amusingly reveals, “[It] was coined by our friend and guitar teacher Pablo Cohen, who heard us singing in town one day and said, ‘Who are these guys, the Howlin’ Brothers?’ ” Beards, straw hats, and overalls are the identifying factor here, all perfectly in tune with the band’s Southern sensibilities. It’s fun stuff indeed, strongly suggesting these Howlin’ Brothers are quite a hoot.
Thu., Dec. 12, 9:30 p.m., 2013

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