STARS ON THE RISE
Upstarts Joyous Wolf, Six Gun Sal impress at Whisky-A-Go-Go show
LOS ANGELES — Metal Sludge thinks it is fun and refreshing every so often to focus on up-and-comers instead of the usual has-beens, so with that in mind, there we were at dusk Friday at the Whisky, just in time for buzz band Joyous Wolf.
It was about 8 p.m., and eventually the iconic Sunset Strip club would be packed for headliners Junkyard and Circus of Power.
Spectators were just filtering in for Joyous Wolf, a Southern California foursome that has already made an FM radio spalsh on KLOS — not easy for an unsigned band — and is just now getting the attention of some record labels.
When you’re 22 years old, there are still record deals to be had, believe it not, as Rock’s afterlife does not begin and end with Frontier Records like most Metal Sludge enthusiasts undoubtedly believe.
The group started with a rocker called “Mountain Man,” as about 50 or 60 patrons began edging their way closer. The group combines a modern rock sound with classic British influences that would probably impress the likes of UFO and Bad Company.
On “Seven,” singer Nick Reese (inset right) shook his fanny a bit, as Joyous Wolf turned up the volume — except for guitarist Blake Allard, who was having some tech problems without the benefit of a guitar tech, but he got through it, as the show must go on, right?
The performance got better and better. This is a band on the rise, and perhaps Joyous Wolf has just the right amount of looks, showmanship and pizazz — and yes, even some talent thrown in — to make it to the next level.
The rhythm section is especially strong with tall bassist Greg Braccio — who looks more like a college student than, say, Nikki Sixx — and steady drummer Robert Sodaro.
Even the mighty Vicky Hamilton showed up. The last time we remember seeing her at the Whisky, Ms. Hamilton was managing a young band called Guns N’ Roses.
Meantime, Joyous Wolf was fully enjoying an opportunity to play the Whisky on a weekend night.
“I’m excited,” Allard said upstairs in the dressing room a few moments before hitting the stage. “I first saw this place when I was in high school, and it looks as cool as it ever did. It’s a huge place, and the sound system is great.”
Joyous Wolf has been working on an album. Now if they could just get people to hear it, Reese believes the foursome will be right on course.
“We’re working on things right now, and we have a bunch of label proceedings, and we’re trying to get that all together,” Reese said. “We’re getting to work right now because we know people are going to like the music. We’re working really hard on this.”
Another promising band called Six Gun Sal played a short time later, and by now the Whisky was really heating up.
Six Gun Sal is led by Joey Durant, a hard-hitting — and hard-partying — drummer whose roots can be traced to Trash Cowboys, one of those Swingin’ Thing-style Strip bands from back in the day that seemed to have it all but never quite made it.
“We’ve got some serious label interest, plus there are a bunch of porn stars here tonight,” Durant said. “I’m still going strong, and it’s totally worth it. I love playing. I’m never going to stop.”
About ten minutes into the set, Six Gun Sal broke into “Red-Blooded American,” and it was clear the group definitely has some appeal, not to mention what appears to be a pretty impressive local following that was cheering and singing along.
On “Remember My Name,” Durant was bashing away behind the kit, Anthony Appello was singing his heart out, and Dusty Wilkins and Joe Mendoza were killing it on guitar.
“The response was amazing,” Durant said. “The whole thing about this band is, it’s something different than what I’m used to playing. We’re getting some good exposure down in the Southern states and in Australia and the UK and Poland. Poland is going nuts over our stuff. We have 60,000 hits on our video in two months.”
Gerry Gittelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org