LIVE: Sweet Night with Howlin’ Brothers 7/22/2019

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Nashville-based band The Howlin’ Brothers were guests at Galway’s The Cock ‘n Bull Restaurant Monday, July 22, and the trio leveraged the sweet-sounding acoustics with dizzyingly fast tempos, toe-tapping and leg slapping bluegrass and jazz sound that fit perfectly in the old barn.

Photo by Jim Gilbert

The trio of musicians, Ian Craft, Jared Green, and Dan Swan, started the night with a rapid paced “Whitechange” that sent hands flapping and fingers picking, transplanting the audience to an Appalachian mountain farm. As the crowd absorbed the unique talent of the three men, they shifted styles between sad harmonies with more twangy, predictable melodies and a punky, jazzy sound in minor key.

Green shared he was from Homer, NY, not far from Galway, and talked fondly about eating sweet corn during a summer visit there. He then sang lyrics that reminded everyone in the room to eat blueberry pie and enjoy summer while it lasts. Built off a folk tune, “Watermelon” showcased the group’s ability to write original lyrics that resonated with this upstate NY audience.

But they also played some covers, like “The Glory Bound Train,” that echoed Johnny Cash’s gospel start. There is nothing this trio couldn’t pull off. From gospel to jazz and back to bluegrass again, there wasn’t a predictable or dull moment in the setlist.

Photo by Jim Gilbert

After a slow middle section of music, the band picked up pace, bringing the audience members’ hearts racing with their bass slapping, quick finger plucking and slide banjo sound.

Ian Craft alternated between banjo, mandolin, and guitar. Jared Green demonstrated tremendous energy and stamina on the guitar, mouth harp (harmonica), and danced to supplement percussion on a mic’ed piece of wood. Dan Swan’s smiling, head bobbing joy was felt as he slapped the bass. He looked like the bass player in the Peanuts’ Christmas pageant, dancing and smiling along with unadulterated authenticity. All three men took turns singing front, but harmonized more than chose to stand out.

The sound was remarkable. It is what elation would sound like if it were composed into music.

Photo by Jim Gilbert

Even the sad songs, the ones with darker edges, ended with sweet notes and promise, making audience members wonder aloud how this phenomenal talent has yet to be recognized for an Outlaw Fest or Zac Brown Band opener.

The Cock ‘n Bull Restaurant setting was ideal for such a unique performance of talent. The dessert menu featured a blueberry pizza with berries grown on site, but also had chocolate brownies, ice creams and cheesecake. The dinner feature included Wagyu beef and watermelon salad, and celebrated Monday nights with fried chicken platters.

Many came for dinner, but some came just for the music and drinks. Complimentary cookies were passed around, finishing off the feeling of a perfectly satisfying, comforting experience.

Audience members were not simply sated, but filled with the warm blissful afterglow of experiencing a magnificent sound that felt it was exactly where it should be: in a historic dairy barn.

Photo by Jim Gilbert

The night was completed perfectly by the restaurant’s employee of the month, yellow lab Tugg, running around to greet everyone as they left.

The Cock ‘n Bull is hosting a plethora of high talent musicians in coming weeks. Local jazz musician Keith Pray will entertain audiences on sax this Friday night. Saturday brings Brother Roy playing at the bar. One look ahead at the concert series confirms it: The Cock ‘n Bull isn’t fooling around. Their music line up promises special nights ahead. Paired with their food, drink, and professional service, it just might be where you can find your bliss.

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