Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pheaturing Jeff Howell From The Poker Dogs

Hello, welcome to the Phile, the official blog of...
I am your host, Jason Peverett, doing this thing pretty much every Thursday. This week is Teacher Appreciation Week. Teacher Appreciation Week began in 1985 when state and federal governments decided that giving teachers a holiday was cheaper than paying them more. Did you hear this? A man named Jason Pfeiffer claims he was Michael Jackson’s boyfriend. Pfeiffer says he told the story to prove that Jackson wasn’t a pedophile — although it seems like that would have been more helpful during the trial. There were big demonstrations protesting Arizona’s new immigration law. Despite the controversy, the state went ahead with their Cinco de Mayo party. I guess it’s a going-away thing. The world’s oldest living person, aged 114, passed away. The cause of death — you guessed it — a knife fight. This curse of the world’s oldest person continues — they always seem to die. Lots of oil is still leaking off the coast of Louisiana. BP has a plan to create a giant vinegar spill to turn the Gulf of Mexico into a delicious salad dressing. Have you heard the new BP slogan? "BP: Putting more birds in oil than Colonel Sanders". Happy belated Cinco de Mayo. If you don’t know what that means, maybe you’re a little out of touch — or maybe you’re the governor of Arizona. I didn't drink for Cinco de Mayo. I celebrated with Mexican food, or as it’s known in Mexico: “food.” Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican Army’s surprise victory over sobriety back in 1862.
Oddly, Cinco de Mayo is more popular here than in Mexico. Cinco de Mayo to us is what David Hasselhoff is to Germany. I am so excited... tomorrow Iron Man 2 comes out. And because of that, I have an exclusive picture from the movie here on the Phile. Take a look, kids.

I even found an Iron Man related motivational poster.

Ernie Harwell
January 25, 1918 - May 4, 2010
Long gone.
Lynn Redgrave
March 8, 1943 - May 3, 2010
Red, green - whatever. As long as it's a grave.

A teenage loser wonders aloud why people don't help one another and why no one in real life ever tries to be a superhero. It's the kind of question only a kid with too much time on his hands would ask because any adult would just say, "Well because I can't fly and I don't have future-weapons at my disposal, that's why." And because when you're young you think nothing bad will ever really happen to you, the kid goes out in a scuba suit with some batons, tries to fight crime and winds up with multiple broken bones and stab wounds. Enter a real-life father/daughter team of ass-kickers who take him under their wing and teach him the trade. R-rated cartoon mayhem fills the rest of the running time. At one point this might have been someone's idea of satire (especially the bits where Kick-Ass is at his happiest when he becomes Internet-famous for his deeds) And then, possibly seduced by the joys of exuberant limb-hacking, bazooka-blasting, face-smashing and microwaving some random guy, the movie just decided that thoughtlessness and splatter was its own reward. I'm okay with that. Thoughts can be overrated in extra-violent, gut-level movies where bad guys are getting annihilated by people who are so cool and adept with weaponry that all you can do is bow to their skill. Especially when those thoughts don't really hold up to any kind of scrutiny. I wanted to see asses kicked and that's what I got. Left happy. What made the film is Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl, a tiny superheroine groomed into a lifestyle of extreme violence (and extra-bad swear words) by her vengeance-seeking father Nicolas Cage. The movie loves her and is amused by him, especially when he puts on his Batman-like suit and begins talking like Adam West. And when they're on screen you forget about Aaron Johnson. That's bad for him but good for you. When I say that Moretz has to utter some terrible things and commit terrible acts (like wholesale slaughter of dozens of people), I'm not joking. The movie wants you to see her not as the kind of real human being it gives you in Johnson, but as an invincible force that can stand it when she has to occasionally take it, as opposed to just dishing it out. Still, it's unsettling to watch grown men beating up a little girl. It just is. Will I get the movie on blu-ray? Yes. The day it comes out. From 1 to 1o, it gets a 10.

Mercenaries sack the city of Rome, an event considered by many to mark the end of the Renaissance.
Manhattan purchased by Dutch governor Peter Minuet for the equivalent of $24 in goods, which compounded at 6% annually is approximately $78 billion. But some scholars feel the actual value of the goods transferred to be in excess of $500, which translates to $1.6 trillion for the island when compounded.
Ignoring signals, a train travels through an open drawbridge and into the Norwalk river in Connecticut, killing 46 passengers. The engineer and crew jumped clear, not warning the others of their fate.
Henry David Thoreau, author of Walden and the essay Civil Disobedience, dead at age 44. His last words were "Moose... Indian".
Zeppelin Hindenberg explodes at Lakehurst NJ, leaving 36 dead and others seriously burned. Official cause of the explosion is listed as "St. Elmo's Fire," although it probably also involved the flammable silver paint the Germans used to coat the thing.
West German authorities announce that the recently discovered "Hitler Diaries" are counterfeits, made from paper not available until at least 1955. Parties unknown managed to swindle the German magazine Stern out of an undisclosed sum, and esteemed historian Hugh Trevor-Roper was so convinced of their authenticity that he proclaimed "I'm staking my reputation on it."
Disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker is formally defrocked by the Assemblies of God.
Disgruntled postal worker Mark Richard Hilburn (recently fired) enters the Dana Point, CA post office and shoots two former coworkers, killing one.
Disgruntled 27-year veteran Lawrence Jasion enters the garage area of the Dearborn, Michigan post office and whips out a .38 revolver. He proceeds to kill mechanic Gary Montes and wound two other coworkers. Before anyone can react, Jasion then blows his brains out. The Dearborn office was infamous for its authoritarian policies.
Dutch right-wing politician Pim Fortuyn is shot six times in the head as he leaves a recording studio in Hilversum, near Amsterdam. His party platform was based on repeal of the discrimination clause of the constitution, an odd position considering that Fortuyn was homosexual. It is not clear what assassin Volkert van der Graaf's motive was, speculations ranging from Fortuyn's public statements regarding fur farming (van der Graaf is a founder of that country's Animal Liberation Front) to his sympathies towards Dutch Muslims.

Today's guest is the lead singer and guitarist for the Orlando-based band The Poker Dogs whose album "Rebel Flag Bikini" is available on iTunes. He can also be heard on The Monsters in the Morning talk radio show on WTKS-FM Real Radio in Orlando, Florida, USA and XM Radio Channel 152. Please welcome to the Phile... Jeff Howell.

Me: Hey there, Jeff, welcome to the Phile. So, how are you?

Jeff: Doing well, thank you

Me: We first met years and years ago at the Jammy's, thatlocal awards show. Whatever happened to Jam Magazine I wonder. How did you get picked to host?

Jeff: The founder/editor of Jam Magazine (I believe) was an uncle of one of the members of Seven Mary Three. He got them signed to a major label and managed them, and then sold the magazine. He was a fan of my solo act and really liked my first album “Gimme’ A Dollar,” and really, really wanted me to host the Jammy’s. That, and the fact that he was only paying $75 for the gig.

Me: There's a bass player named Jeff Howell, Jeff. Have you heard of him? He was once in Savoy Brown and The Outlaws.

Jeff: Yes, I’ve gotten emails from girls before asking me if I remembered them from the tour of ’78. Havng a deep seeded fear of child support for someone else’s kid, I deleted every one of them.

Me: You have been playing a long time here in Orlando and all over the place, sir. Do you have a favorite show that stood out?

Jeff: No, there have been shows that (for whatever reason) seemed like I could do no wrong. The songs all sounded great and everything I said seemed to be funny. But, I can’t remember them specifically.

Me: Is it true you played at a 7-11 opening? I didn't know 7-11's had concerts. When and how did that happen?

Jeff: Mucho true. It was the opening of a 7-11 prototype that had a garage and dry cleaners attached. It was supposed to go after the K-Mart market but I believe failed miserably. I was asked to front a horrible 50’s band in the parking lot of the 7-11 right off of the Maitland Interchange. It was August, 98, 106% humidity and I was wearing a powder blue tux. We did two songs that led to the ribbon cutting ceremony. The president of the company then said, “It’s really hot! Let’s all go in and get a Slurpee.” and we continued to play in the heat for another two hours. Nobody saw the show except for two construction workers who were filling up their truck. They complimented me on my singing while waiting for their receipt to print.

Me: You're originally from Louisiana, right? Do you go back often? When and why did you move to Orlando?

Jeff: Yes, I’m from Baton Rouge. I go back about four times a year. I was off and on in Orlando starting in the fall of ’77. I lived here for a short period from ’82 – ’84. Then back in Orlando for another short period, ’85 – ’86. Then back here to stay in early ’88. I kept coming back here because I knew I could always make a living playing music here.

Me: Your son is starting to be a really good musician, Jeff. When did he start to play guitar? I don't have any musical talent, unless you count the kazoo, but my son does. You must be proud of your son.

Jeff: Very proud. He’s a wonderful kid (young man). He picked up guitar around the age of fourteen. He mostly taught himself but was really shy about playing in front of people. So I told him that if he learned my crap, I would learn a few of his songs and he could come and play with me in some of the venues that I play. And when we do, it just affirms to me what life is all about. It really doesn’t get any better (at least for me, it doesn’t).

Me: Okay, let's talk about you being on the radio. Some readers of the Phile, but not all, would know you from being on the Monster's radio show. How did you first meet Russ Rollins the host of the show and become a member of his show?

Russ: Bo (former co-host) was a regular fan who used to come see me play every weekend. He kept inviting me to come onto his radio show that aired at 6:00 AM, Saturday mornings. I declined until one night, I just stayed up until 5:45 and drove to the station (with a cold 40 oz.).

Me: You stopped being a regular member because you wanted to spend time with your son, and mornings were hard on you. I totally understand, I am not a morning person either. Recently though, you have been going on the show on Friday's. What made you pick Friday's? It's good to hear you back on the show.

Jeff: Thanks. The move to mornings ruined the show for me. I went from spending 3 – 4 days a week with my son to 9 – 12 hrs. Being with him was way more important than being on radio. I go on, on, actually, on Wednesdays and Fridays now, to have some fun and plug my gigs.
It was always a fun job but it totally ruined it for me when they went to mornings.

Me: You have been friends with Bubba Wilson for a long time, Jeff. If it wasn't for you, I don't think any of us would have heard him. It was you that got him on the radio. When did you first meet Bubba?

Jeff: I first met Bubba at Mardi Gras in New Orleans in 1975. I didn’t know him real well but we were kindred spirits. Two years later, he got me in Clutch (and vouched for me even though I was nowhere good enough musically to play in the band). But he knew I was funny and would work with me to make me musically strong enough. I’ve never forgotten that. Years later, I was able to kind of return the favor with the radio show. He did really well with it.

Me: Recently you and he formed a band called The Poker Dogs... is it your band you formed or Bubba's?

Jeff: Bubba was singing a few weekend nights to supplement the radio income (while he was still on the show). Through bad medications, he kept losing his voice in the first set. Rick Bailey, close friend and his guitar player, said, “Why don’t we get Jeff in the band? He ain’t that good of a singer, but he neverloses his voice!” So they did.

Me: Who are the other Poker Dogs? By the way, who came up with that name?

Jeff: The Poker Dogs are Bubba, Rick Bailey, Tom Holysz (drums), Dan Walters (bass), and me. I wanted to call the band Dogs Playing Poker but all of the possible website names for Dogs Playing Poker were taken. So, we named the band The Poker Dogs because of the availability of a matching website name. I guess that’s what it’s come to.

Me: I downloaded the album "Rebel Flag Bikini" off from iTunes. How did the song "Rebel Flag Bikini" become the album title?

Jeff: We were trying to figure out what kind of album it was going to be (musical and funny or just all out funny). Bubba had been playing with that title for two years with a small amount of lyrics. Rick Bailey came in one day with the intro lick and the chords, and the three of us penned the lyrics in a couple of days. Everybody loved it so much that it became the main song and title of the album.

Me: Also, I know there must be a story behind that song.

Jeff: Daniel (of the Monsters) said it on the air one day. Savannah (tall blonde former show member) texted Russ and said to tell Bubba to write a song called “RFB”. That was several years ago. It floated in the back of Bubba’s brain until a year ago.

Me: Other songs on that are reworked songs that were written for The Monsters show, right? Are there plans for a follow up album with new material?

Jeff: There are aspirations, but “time” is totally kicking our asses right now.

Me: What do you like better, performing solo or with a band?

Jeff: With a band. Much, much more fun!

Me: "Blues Dumps" is your last solo CD, am I right? Are you gonna do another one?

Jeff: No, “Blues Dumps” was that joke CD that I did with the Monsters. “Blues Junk” was after that. And. “The Tree” was my last solo even though I re-released “Gimme’ A Dollar” because I didn’t have it on CD. I want to do another one but as I said, “time” iscompletely kicking my ass.

Me: And I heard or read you want to write a book. Is it autobiography? When and if you do, I'll have you back on the Phile part of the Peverett Phile Book Club. Speaking of books, I am trying to get Russ Rollins on the Phile with his book "Monster Trash". Did you read it?

Jeff: The book that I am working diligently on (when “life” permits snippets of time) is a collection of vignettes mostly about my father and a few about our family. He was this bigger than life, sweetheart of a guy who had probably the most colorful life of anyone that I’ve ever met or known who had a plethora of stories and crazy things that happened in his life. No, I haven’t read “Monster Trash.” I’m waiting for the price to come down.

Me: If I interview Russ what is the one question you want me to ask him?

Jeff: Where are my damn crab legs!?!?

Me: Jeff, thanks for taking time out to do this interview. I wish you continued success and ask Bubba if he wants to be on the Phile. Take care, and keep in touch.

Jeff: Thank you, Jason. Best of luck to you and take care.

That's about it for another entry of the Phile. Thanks to Jeff for a great interview and to Wikipedia. The Phile will be back next Thursday with good friend and member of the Funky Blues Messiahs Joe Skinner. Then in a few weeks the biggest celebrity I have ever interviewed. Until next week, spread the word, not the turd, don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye love you bye.

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