Missouri seems to be spitting out some damn good bands over the last decade. From Shaman’s Harvest, The Ben Miller Band, Red Line Chemistry, Cluster Pluck and Driving Wheel. I’m sure there are others. These are the ones that I can recall off of the top of my head at 4:30am on a Friday morning as I crank this EP and type out my thoughts.
I was introduced to Driving Wheel courtesy a fellow fan of Blackberry Smoke on Facebook. I’m glad I checked out his recommendation as this band is right up my alley! I’m a fan of the power trio format as there is a rawness to that approach musically. The three individuals comprising the power trio often come up with some inventive ways to “fill out” the sound that you’re accustomed to hearing with a four or five piece ensemble. Power trios such as Cream, Richie Kotzen, Jimi Hendrix’ Band of Gypsys, the original Gov’t Mule, The Winery Dogs and ZZ Top have a massive sound that larger bands often don’t come close to!
Driving Wheel had my full attention within the opening thirty seconds of “30 Miles To Houston”. What can I say? I’m a sucker for some nasty slide guitar! A mid-tempo sludgy number with a good groove, “30 Miles To Houston” has this EP off to a fantastic start. “Song For You” kicks off with a heavy AC/DC-esque beat. Rhythmically, this track is a beast featuring a nasty groove with Craig laying back while Jeremy steers the song atop Ryan’s chugging riffs. Musically, it’s as thick as the humidity of a Missouri summer!
An interesting change of pace, “Another Lonely Day” is predominately acoustic. I really digg the vocal production on this track as you almost get the feeling it was recorded via the telephone as Ryan pours his heart out to a love lost. It just has a sparse haunting vibe to the vocals. The bluesy psychedelic touch at the 2:14 mark brought Stevie Ray Vaughan’s take on “Little Wing” to mind. The electric solo that follows is right in line with how this track is presented whereas it adds a nice embellishment to it and doesn’t overpower the song.
“John the Revelator” brings the digital download portion of the EP to a close. First recorded by Blind Willie Johnson back in 1930, this blues call and response song has been covered by a wide range of artists like Son House, Nick Cave, Gov’t Mule, John Mellencamp, Lee Roy Parnell and R.E.M. Driving Wheel do a fantastic job with this legendary song.
“Puppet String” is the demo for “30 Miles To Houston”. It’s really cool to get a little glimpse in to the progression of a song from the initial concept to the finished product. “I Ain’t Guilty” is a mix of folksy acoustic and some subtle electric blues jamming captured live. Combined with the previous five tracks, it shows the diversity of Driving Wheel. The cats aren’t a one trick pony. Track No. 7 is an untitled hidden track is a fun slab of blues boogie played with a wink and a smile. I’d imagine this was captured at the tail end of a marathon rehearsal session being topped off with a couple of shots of ol’ No. 7!
All-in-all, Driving Wheel’s “The Hometone EP” is thirty minutes well spent that begs for more spins. I look forward to their next release which I’ve heard whispers will be a full length offering. Fans of Blackberry Smoke, Laidlaw, Silvertide, The Black Crowes, wicked slide guitar, impassioned vocal stylings, swampy Blues, Southern Rock, a rock solid rhythm section and some well-crafted songs will no doubt digg Driving Wheel.
Driving Wheel – The Hometone EP
Release Date: June 5, 2015
1. 30 Miles To Houston
2. Song For You
3. Another Lonely Day
4. John The Revelator
5. Puppet String (30 Miles demo)*
6. I Ain’t Guilty (Live – Bonus Track)*
7. Untitled Hidden Track*
*= Only available on the physical CD
Ryan Tomlinson – Lead Guitar
Jeremy Hunsaker – Bass Guitar
Craig Wingate – Drums & Percussion
Wes Wingate – Keyboards
Purchase Driving Wheel’s “The Hometone EP” CD from Discogs:
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Purchase Driving Wheel’s “The Hometone EP” from iTunes (US):
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Official Driving Wheel website:
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Driving Wheel – 30 Miles From Houston (music video):
Driving Wheel – John The Revelator (live):
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- Album review: Album Review – Driving Wheel – The Hometone EP – Hard Rock Hub | October 23, 2015