California Quartet has a Bright Future
If you read my Welcome To Rockville recap, you already know that I was quite impressed with Southern California’s Joyous Wolf. The quartet is an infectious new band just oozing with talent, and they capitalized on the sweet opportunity to play in front of the sizable Rockville crowd by delivering a passionate and energetic set that left everyone in attendance impressed.
After their set, I sat down to chat with the members of Joyous Wolf and found the hard-working foursome to be humble and appreciative. They have a rare combination of talent and humility that makes them impossible not to root for. It is clear that they want to focus on playing their distinctive, soulful brand of rock ‘n roll, and continuing to do things their way.
The band members are pragmatic, and much more focused on the music than their image. They actually used a random band name generator to select their name, just two days before their first gig. As it turns out, it was Joyous Wolf or Intense Resentment – I think they made the right choice.
They’ve recently signed with Atlantic Records and are working on their first album. Front man Nick Reese shared how that signing has in a sense legitimized the band, “It’s made the touring a lot easier and it’s made a lot of people shut the fuck up… It says you’re not a shitty garage band.”
At Rockville, they hit the impressive stage as a full bore rock band. They started out emphatically, delivering their first single, the bluesy “Mountain Man,” which spotlighted the excellent guitar work from Blake Allard and gave us our first glimpse of Reese generally going crazy, flipping and cart-wheeling across the stage in-between verses. Then, on their very next song, “Holy Driver,” it was a canvas for bassist Greg Braccio and drummer Robert Sodaro to show off their skills.
We saw a glimpse of their soft side when they dedicated a song to their friend Justin who is fighting leukemia.
The four band members are road warriors and are tight on stage. They play off of each other well and have developed a set that spotlights their abundant talent and versatility. And, they are having fun doing it. They seemed to love playing the huge Rockville Stage. Allred shared “Everything was so loud and I was having an awesome time, this was one of the first times I could crank my amp up all the way. I was thinking, ‘this guitar sounds so good, I hope everyone likes it.’” Judging from the buzz in the crowd, they loved it.
“I appreciate the fact that they came as early as they did to see the first band play” added Allard. Then Reese summed it up, “Especially with us being fairly unknown. Clearly, 90% of that crowd had no idea who we were.” But no one in attendance left with any question about the impressive performers they had just seen.
And the band was equally appreciative of the large Jacksonville crowd. Per Reese, “They were standing out in the blistering sun, sweating buckets. I don’t know if I could have been as receptive as they were.” The thirty-minute set featured 6 songs, highlighted by “Mountain Man” and “Which Doctor,” two songs we will likely hear on their new album. “Sleep, Weep and Stomp” was a filthy, full bore voyage that showed off their blues chops.
Watching Reese prowl around the stage, I knew it was only a matter of time before he ended up in the crowd, and he did not disappoint, as he joined the fans for their raucous closer “Mother Rebel.” The fans loved it, and it was a better ending than the recent scaffold climbing incident at Las Rageous. Reese shared, “I’m not allowed to do my other ending anymore.”
And we actually like to finish our set,” chimed in Sodaro, reflecting on the band’s forced early exit at this year’s inaugural Las Vegas festival after Reese climbed the scaffolding high above the stage during one of their tunes. These four guys get it though and know how to balance the musicianship and showmanship to impress fans and promoters alike.
Reese is one of the most charismatic young front men I have ever seen. He was racing around the stage, turning cartwheels into splits and bonding with his new fans. He also throws out some vivid theatrical facial expressions. And his voice is special. He’s the real deal, and surrounded by his three uber-talented band mates, Joyous Wolf is on the cusp of great things.
We also chatted for awhile about some of the iconic figures in rock music, such as Ozzy Osbourne, The Guess Who and Judas Priest and the respect and appreciation they have earned. Speaking about Joe Cocker, Reese shared, “he’s one of my biggest inspirations and he has some amazing songs, it’s amazing he’s not in the Rock & Roll Hall.”
Soundgarden, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, BB King, Rage against the Machine, Nat King Cole and old Delta Blues peppered the list of influences for the other band members. With a list that diverse, it is easy to see how Joyful Wolf has developed such a distinctive, soulful rock vibe.
They are touring through mid-June and hitting a handful of acclaimed festivals. If these guys are anywhere nearby, they are worth a road trip (see full tour dates linked below).
After the tour, they head to the studio for their debut album with Atlantic Records, with a targeted Fall release. For now, you’ll have to settle for “Mountain Man,” and it is a song worthy of plenty of attention.
Joyous Wolf Welcome To Rockville Setlist
Which Doctor (or Witch?)
Sleep Weep Stomp
Joyous Wolf Tour Dates
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