A smoke-filled room was the only element missing from the decor at Alex’s Plaza Restaurant and Bar as Howlin’ Houndog howled the blues last Thursday night.
Houndog singing the blues fit perfectly into Alex’s beautiful interior which itself takes you to another place and time, as does the blues. With its dark wood paneling and antique ambience it is the perfect atmosphere to eat, hang out and converse with friends, especially with the right kind of music. And the right kind of music it was indeed.
Houndog (Seattle’s Erik 4A when not howling) began taking his current project to the road in his 1981 Volvo 240 station wagon a few years ago and is wrapping up his current west coast tour as he heads back home to Seattle, Washington where he runs Vagrant Studios, home of Vagrant Records.
Houndog is all over the map when it comes to musical influences. His set last Thursday included such songs as Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene,” AC/DC’s “High to Hell,” as well as Tonto and the Renegades’ “Little Boy Blues,” each given his own particular bluesy twist.
Houndog’s set even included two songs written by Southern Oregon University student and former Long Faces bandmate, Leroy Fulwiler. Houndog is not without original songs either. Older self-penned compositions included “Disfigured,” “Know Problems” and “Mumbling Blues Guy.” These are songs which explore matters at the heart of Howlin’ Houndog.
On his latest album, “The Adventures of Howlin’ Houndog,” which includes “Have you got soul?” and “Fat Cat Blues,” a song inspired by the constant influx of alley cats in the U-District of Seattle, he plays with his band – The Infamous Loosers – which features a horn section as well as electric guitars, providing a different experience from his solo acoustic show at Alex’s. This album is full of adventure that will scoot you across the dance floor all evening.
For any musician, Houndog is an inspiration considering he was told by his childhood band teacher, “Music ain’t your bag; why don’t you try something else?” He has followed his dreams of living life on the road, going from one gig to another and running a recording studio which he says requires “a schizoid management-artist relationship.” But Houndog has advice for anyone with hopes of going a similar route, “If you’re not having fun then you shouldn’t be doing this.”
For people young and old who enjoyed Houndog’s debut performance in Ashland, he has plans of returning to Ashland with his band, so we can all enjoy his rockin’ blues. More information on Howlin’ Houndog and the Infamous Loosers can be found at http://www.myspace.com/infamousloosers.