July 18, 1997 in Seven

Huffamoose Mixes A Tasty Blending Of Rock And Jazz

By The Spokesman-Review
 

When Kevin Hanson grabbed ahold of his first guitar at age 10 he could not have known the path he had just set upon.

Certainly this Spokane son didn’t know that one day people across the country would be listening to a catchy tune he penned about his girlfriend’s fantastic dance moves.

He likely hadn’t imagined he and his friends would get signed to a major record label.

And surely, at that tender age he never thought he’d have a band named after a Canadian slang word for, well, oral pleasure.

But sure enough, Hanson and his buddies in the band Huffamoose are sending up flares with a nervy approach to pop that finds rock in a melodious romp with jazz.

Based in Philadelphia, Huffamoose’s major label debut on Interscope Records - “We’ve Been Had Again” - is so rich with guitar swaths and Jeff Buckley-like vocal dynamics, it takes more than one listen to truly plumb its depths.

Hanson, who plays lead guitar and shares writing duty for the band, was raised in Spokane and drawn to music by his parents’ love for bands like The Doors and Santana.

After getting his first guitar, “he never put the thing down,” says his dad, Dick Hanson of Spokane.

Through junior high and high school, the younger Hanson played in various jazz groups including the Spokane Jazz Ensemble. After graduating from Rogers High School, he went to Western Washington University for a year. When the jazz program director left for Temple University in Philadelphia, Hanson was invited to follow - and did.

In Philly, he joined drummer Erik Johnson and bassist Jim Stager to perform as a jazz trio. They eventually hooked up with singer Craig Elkins and headed down the alt-rock road, forming Huffamoose in early 1993.

“It was a real stretch for me at the time,” Hanson says, explaining that beyond performing some Van Halen and AC/DC covers as a kid with his brother he’d never been in a rock band.

Although Huffamoose was snatched up by a major label, success has been a difficult pursuit. While making the album, the band ran into problems with a producer who just didn’t get it.

“He was given instructions from the label to come up with a sound for the band which was more commercially accessible,” Hanson says. But “his vision of Huffamoose being commercially accessible was a far cry from our vision of us being commercially accessible.”

In the end it took two years and much turmoil to record the album.

“It’s a long time, but for a major label putting out a band’s first album it’s really not out of the ordinary,” Hanson says. “We’re just lucky we didn’t get dropped in the meantime.”

And so are we.

Their first single “Wait” (written by Hanson) drenches the radio waves with a laid-back groove so cool it begs for repeated playback.

Move back just a little/Let me watch your hips sway/Hold me looser still/ Throw me like I’m wet clay

Lead singer Elkins’ vocals are Sunday-morning relaxed in borderline-melancholy tunes like “James” and “Buy You a Ring.” But they are achingly relentless on “Enigmatic” and “We’ve Been Had.”

And don’t miss the rockabilly guitar stutter propelling “Like A Weed” in a steam-engine trot.

Despite the turmoil making their debut, Hanson says the band is looking forward to recording again. “To us, learning new songs and being creative keeps everyone super alive.”

Until then however, Huffamoose will spend the summer touring the country, landing in Coeur d’Alene this afternoon at the Tubs Cafe beer garden. Show starts at 5:30 p.m. Cover is $5. The Heeters open.

On Saturday and Sunday at Tubs, catch reggae by Zeleke. Born in Ethiopia, Zeleke has backed Ziggy Marley and fronted the band Baaro.

Tickets are $5. Show starts at 4.

Get ready for a cockfight

If punk is their blender, then the ingredients inside are rock, blues, R&B; and country. And don’t forget a dash of nicotine, a splash of garage oil and just a nip (or more) of booze.

The resulting concoction? A furious froth blended up by Michigan band Bantam Rooster.

With T. Jackson Potter on guitar and vocals and Eric Cook on skins, this dynamic duo churns out a feisty hillbilly rock-a-punk, startling in that it’s kicked out by only two people.

“We just throw it all in the blender and spit it back up,” Potter says.

The duo formed two years ago after Potter split with his band Kill Devil Hill and hooked up with Cook.

“A time came when we were thinking about adding another person, but both of us are so driven and into what we were doing we didn’t want any dead weight bringing us down,” Potter says. “Being a two-piece just makes us work harder to fill in those gaps. We kind of like the challenge. Plus we were pretty happy with the way it was sounding.”

Their Crypt Record CD “Deal Me In” packs in 18 tightly hewn, garage-pummeled tunes. Songs like “In the Manner to Which I’m Accustomed” and “She’ll Be My Death” pit psycho-twangy guitar revs against vocal howls that sound ripped through tin.

“I write a lot of songs that deal a lot with girls and how they positively and negatively affect my life,” Potter says laughing. “A lot of times it’s a way to get out my aggression.”

“(Poop) Town,” written about their hometown, may hit a chord with some Spokanites. “You get kind of fed up with living in the same place and hearing everybody talk about everybody else,” Potter says.

Then there’s “Sister Nicotine,” Potter says, “a song we wrote about how much we love to smoke.”

Bantam Rooster takes roost at Ichabod’s North Thursday. The Incinerators and The Pills open. Show starts at 9:30 p.m. Cover is $4.

Rock and Ryder

His rendition of “Devil With a Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly” is considered to be among the most influential songs to shape rock and roll.

Mitch Ryder himself is considered to be among the first of the “blue eyed soul” men - a white guy who took black R&B; and melded it with muscular rock and roll.

During his heyday in the 1960s, Ryder was the beloved son of blue-collar Detroit, a rock-and-roll dude who played it loud and furious.

With the Detroit Wheels, he went top ten in 1966 with “Jenny Take a Ride,” a medley that bred Little Richard’s “Jenny Jenny” with Chuck Willis’ “C.C. Rider.”

It was followed with hits like “Little Latin Lupe Lu,” “Devil With a Blue Dress On” and “Sock It To Me, Baby” - all featuring his high-octane vocal style.

Ryder, now 52, has continued to tour and record through the years.

On Wednesday Ryder rocks and rolls his way into The Mars. Cover is $10 and show starts 9 p.m.

More music for the ears

Celtic rockers from Canada - the Clumsy Lovers - headline at Outback Jack’s tonight.

Seattle fivesome Fragile Jack plays a not-to-miss middle slot. The Jacks break out a fantastic “grange rock” boot-kicked by mandolin, slide guitar and harmonica.

Their first CD, “Thirsty Work,” finds hick-thick vocals atop bluegrass/country hooks and a beat that knows how to rock.

Do I hear Uncle Tupelo calling?

Method opens the show at 9:30 tonight. Cover is $4.

Get ready to funk with Phat Sidy Smokehouse at The Bayou Brewery.

This seven-piece Seattle crew doles out old-school funkadelia and R&B; combined with modern rock influences. Lead by Ganga Farmers Ernest L. Pumphrey Jr. on vocals and Tyrone Lovelace on bass, the band also features horns and keyboards.

Their CD, “Platos Grande Rehersial” moves from a sultry boil with “Get Me Some” to a horn-punched jump vibe on “Put Your Hands on It.” Show starts at 9 p.m. Thursday. And get this, it’s free.

Rumor control

Despite rumors to the contrary, Swackhammer’s Cadillac Club is still open for dancing through August.

Although a couple of live music shows have been cancelled, the club still has DJ dance nights throughout the week. The place won’t switch to a billiards club until at least September.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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