Houston Jones

 

From The San Francisco Chronicle November 11, 2011:
Houston Jones: Queen of Yesterday
CD Review By David Wiegand

RATING: (WILD APPLAUSE)
"You may not think a band with traditional bluegrass instrumentation and guys who've been around the musical block more than a few times could remain fresh, much less grow even better with each new CD. But when it comes to the Bay Area band Houston Jones, think it. I first got turned on to the band with "Calico Heart" two CDs ago, but the group's new one, "Queen of Yesterday," is in a class by itself. The band includes Travis Jones on lead vocals and guitar; Glenn Houston on lead guitar and background vocals; Chris Kee on bass, guitar, cello and background vocals; Peter Tucker, percussion and background vocals; and Henry Salvia, keyboards, accordion and vocals. Houston Jones will celebrate the release of "Queen" on Saturday at Freight & Salvage. And it's a CD worth celebrating."

"What's amazing about the band is its incredible versatility, From the bluesy swing of "Angels on the Ridgepole" to the urban jazz sound of the streets of Oakland embodied in "Calamity Jane" to the gentle acoustic ballad "I Found a Heart," the electric and electrifying title track and the bar-at-closing-time sad classicism of "Lost in the Crowd," this is a confluence of sublime talent."

From Dirty Linen Magazine March/April 2009:
Houston Jones: Calico Heart
CD Review By Jim Lee

"No one delivers the goods quite like Houston Jones. The band's infectious mix of acoustic rock, bluegrass, folk, and country, driven along by the drumming of Peter Tucker, the guitar of Glenn Houston, and the soulful vocals of Travis Jones, are in ample supply on their latest effort, Calico Heart. It is more focused than the group's last release, probably because acoustic bass player Chris Kee wrote nine of the 11 songs.

While the members have always been virtuoso players and arrangers, it's the depth of Kee's songs that adds a defining element to the band. It has expanded the sound somewhat with some down-home honky-tonk on "Born in the Moonshine," some funk on "Mighty Red," and the experimental 11-minute "Roads to Dominion" which adds some middle eastern influences to a basic Texas rhythm. As always, Houston Jones remains one of the West Coast's most talented and entertaining bands."

From Billboard.Com July 12, 2007:
Houston Jones:  Review by Lesley Beals

"I stumbled upon this wonderful gem of a band playing at a summer concert series in, of all places, my local neighborhood park, sponsored by my hometown's Civic Cultural Commission, and tonight we were treated to some truly EXCEPTIONAL music.  After a couple of songs I said "Whoa!" ... realizing this was a group I should write a review on.  Houston Jones' music was very enjoyable and consisted of some covers, but mostly wonderful original tunes written by band members -- "high octane Americana" was very descriptive of their music.

Travis Jones, with the great voice, [and] very talented musicians... I was so impressed with their music ...these guys weren't just "some local band."  Some of their songs had the crowd up and dancing, some brought tears to our eyes. All of their music had the audience tapping our toes (and had me on the cell phone to my boyfriend saying, "You should have come with me!! You would LOVE this!!")

Thank you, Redwood City Civic Cultural Commission and "Houston Jones" for such a quality concert and such a wonderful evening!

Check out Houston Jones' schedule, and go see them if they're going to be playing anywhere near you. And if they're not, order one of their CDs.  These guys are a rare treat!!"

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From

Dirty Linen Magazine June/July 2006:
Houston Jones: Three Crow Town
CD Review By Jim Lee

"Houston Jones. You might be thinking, "yet another singer/songwriter," but, boy, would you be wrong.  In reality, it's a high-energy quintet of acoustic musicians from the San Francisco Bay area who play an original blend of folk, blues, bluegrass, and gospel.  The name comes from members Glenn "Houston" Pomianek (lead guitar) and Travis Jones (lead vocals, guitar), who are joined by Chris Kee (acoustic bass), Peter Tucker (drums), and Wayne "Chojo" Jacques (fiddle, mandolin).  Both Pomianek and Kee were founding members of the Waybacks, and Tucker and Jacques also passed through the ranks of that group.

It's apparent from the opening track, "Bedlam Road," that these guys can play. They incorporate so many different influences and make it seem so easy. The songs are powered along by the high-energy drumming of Tucker and supportive, full-bodied arrangements.  Jones' lead vocals are one of the group's strong features, with everyone else chipping in backing vocals.

What separates Houston Jones from similar bands, though, is the high quality of the songwriting, with great hooks, melodies, and compelling lyrics.  Kee contributes seven original songs, including the gospel sounding "Jump Up, Little Children" and the touching title track about living in a small town.  Other standouts include the Jones/Pomianek country/bluegrass-flavored "There She Goes (I'm Almost Gone)" and the menacing "Behind These Walls," about a man sentenced to die for killing his wife and her lover. The instrumental sets are all outstanding, as well, and include a set of traditional reels ("Daley's Reel"), one original that sounds traditional ("Jig Etude"), and one that really does swing in a classical sort of way ("Toccata in Swing [Hold the Aria]")."

"Very highly recommended!"

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From Randy Kirchhof, Audio Engineer, North American Folk
Alliance Conference
, Austin, February 2006:

"One of my new and all-time favorite bands, anywhere. From the Bay Area, they have a pretty traditional bluegrass instrumentation. Their music is anything but. Twisty little musical change-ups combined with twisty little lyrical change-ups, atop world-class musicianship and been-there-done-that master-level industry experience. These guys are Stone Pros, pushing every boundary possible, and creating something that is wholly unique, with layers upon layers of subtleties. You can hear bluegrass, delta blues, western, gypsy, swamp, spanish, rock, jazz, celtic, and God knows what other influences. They are surpassingly good and fun to watch live. This is the kind of human artistic endeavor that gets you an all-access pass in St. Peter's office. Truly accessible, intricate, and engaging music. If there were justice in this world, Bill Gates would be their roadie."

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From Music Scene, Alameda CA, February 2006:
Houston Jones: Three Crow Town
CD Review By Julia Park

"Slip the new CD from Houston Jones into the player and indulge yourself in what they call “High Octane Americana.” No fooling. Three Crow Town is the name of the disk, and it absolutely lives up to the hype. From the get-go, this vibrant quartet launches into the American rhythm and swing of “Bedlam Road,” followed by spot-on country in “There She Goes (I’m Almost Gone)” and the romantic “All I Want is You”
(surely destined to become one of the best wedding songs ever).  “Things Unseen” with its refrain about the Prodigal Son, is a clear-eyed vision of personal faith.

Houston Jones offers a stellar blend of acoustic guitar-driven country-Western paeans to the open plains, jailhouse blues, gospel-inflected done-me-wrongs, and irresistible Celtic string instrumentals in a pastiche of sound and emotion. These guys sound like they’ve been playing forever, as a part of the American cultural landscape, and their original songs are like pages pulled from the folk songbook. It just gets better and better.  Nary a song on the CD is without its merits.

Instrumental cuts like “Daley’s Reel” feel distinctly influenced by Bach’s Brandenburg symphonies, while “Gypsy Hornpipe and March” is a guitar party; “Jig Etude” is right off the boat from Ireland; you expect to hear feet clattering on the dance floor, Riverdance-style.And the “Toccata in Swing (Hold the Aria)” carries allusions to Big Band with the snazzy beat, blended with exquisite fingerwork, and a little bit of Gypsy-style
palmas thrown in. Lyrics that include such word-pictures as “Rode the whiskey train to Bedlam and back again, callin’ out your name…” – with an infectious bluegrass strum and textured harmonies behind it take the listener directly into an 1880s railroad camp, or is it a lonely drinking man in his own personal hell, infused with longing in the here and now? “Dear God, I’m your lightning rod – strike me where I stand…one less soul to save.”  It’s songwriting like this that makes you want to give up your day job and become a veritable Lotus Eater with
an iPod.

This rich diversity of sound comes from the musical heritage of these musicians. The band is comprised of Chris Kee, bass; Peter Tucker, percussionist; Travis Jones, guitar/vocals; and Glenn “Houston” Pomianek.  Kee, a classically trained cellist with a degree in ethnomusicology, is an original member of The Waybacks; his influence can be clearly heard in the instrumental numbers. Tucker has worked with a broad range of groups (from the Monks to The Waybacks), as has Jones, whose vocals provide a sure and steady lead through several emotional territories. Pomianek is a Bammie Award-winning lead guitarist who is also a co-founder of The Waybacks and Hearts on Fire. Altogether they form a cohesive, organic group of musicians who play to each other’s strengths; it’s clear in the performance and the production.

... pick up a copy of their CD via their Web site. This is on my top 10 until further notice."

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"Popped the (Three Crow Town) CD into the player on my way to work this morning…oh, man; I was blown away from get-go. That Bedlam Road tune has a great hook, and some powerful instrumental breaks. I’m going to keep listening every chance I get. Could wind up being my album of the year. Travis was always a powerhouse, and Glenn is phenomenal, incredible – and really nice brushy drums, I love that sound, solid bass work; and the thing that is tying it all together…is some really great songwriting."
- ARDEN EATON, DEEJAY, KPIG AM 1510 SAN FRANCISCO, AND HOSTESS OF TV PROGRAM "ARDEN'S GARDEN"

"Three Crow Town is one of our favorite new CDs of 2005"
- KFOG-FM SAN FRANCISCO

"As good as any singing and picking I've heard in my thirty years in the music business. Do your friends a big favor, and turn them on to this band!"

- BOB BROWN, OWNER / RANCHO NICASIO AND MANAGER / HUEY LEWIS AND THE NEWS

 

"My favorite band!"
- JACKIE LOKEN, DJ and HostESS of “THE MOONLIGHT TRAIL”, KKUP 91.5 FM, Cupertino, CA

 

"Always a favorite here...this killer acoustic music act has unique interpretations of grassroots Americana that will leave you breathless and thoroughly rocked.”

- "WEST COAST LIVE", KALW-FM,  NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO

 

"The high-energy Americana band has evolved into a potent quartet …(with) a wicked left-handed guitar slinger.  Part of what makes the group so effective is that it seamlessly blends instrumental prowess with tasty vocal harmonies.”

- Andrew Gilbert, San Jose Mercury News

 

"Boy, what a band, what a band!  I’m so impressed every time I hear you guys! We’re looking forward to your next visit already!”

Sleepy John Sandidge, host of “Please Stand By”, KPIG 107.5 FM, Freedom, CA

 

"Fantastic guitar playing!"

- MIKE GREENSILL, "WEST COAST LIVE", KALW-FM, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO

 

"After burning up the Freight stage at their CD release party last September, Houston Jones returns for more! Audience members are advised to bring along personal fire extinguishers as this quartet of musical veterans ignites the evening with their sizzling, eclectic mixture of originals and original interpretations of grassroots Americana music (in their book, that includes everything from Nanci Griffith to Al Green to Jimi Hendrix). Born at (the) Strawberry Music Festival,... Houston Jones features the dazzling mile-a-minute flatpicking of former Waybacks and Hearts on Fire guitarist Glenn Houston and the honky tonk vocals and guitar of Louisiana-born Travis Jones. Add to the equation Robert Trevorrow (formerly of Hearts on Fire) on bass and vocals and Peter Tucker (formerly of the Waybacks) on percussion, and you have a foursome that can comfortably embrace musical styles from bluegrass, country, folk, and gospel to blues, rock, and jazz, and not even break a sweat--unlike their audience."

- FREIGHT AND SALVAGE, BERKELEY

 

"High Octane!"

- DICK BRUNDLE, FIDDLING CRICKET RECORDS

 

"Wow! Smoking... excellent... wonderful... awesome… amazing! What a great voice, fabulous lead guitar, one of the best percussionists around. What a great team! Their CD is quite excellent. I can hardly wait to hear this (new CD)… it’s going right in the car!"

- Dave Stafford, DJ and Host of “Friday Folk Off”, KKUP 91.5 FM, Cupertino, CA

 

"Houston Jones makes the strongest case for the (Bistro's) ongoing commitment to evolving artists ... part of what makes the group so effective is that it seamlessly blends its instrumental prowess with impressive vocal harmonies."

- ANDREW GILBERT, THE EAST BAY EXPRESS

 

"A great way to get the show started!"

- SEDGE THOMSON, HOST, "WEST COAST LIVE", KALW-FM,  NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO

 

"What a hot band! ...Where’ve you folks been all our lives??? You’ve only played McGrath’s a couple of times and packed the house! Your country rock is HOT, your Blues are fantastic, your vocal styles and picking are amazing. Believe it or not these folks know how to play to a room. Gotta hear them!"

- McGRATH'S PUB (Alameda, CA)

 

"People are loving them...one of our very favorites."

- VIC KRALJ/OWNER, THE BISTRO (Hayward, CA)

 

"Another great find for Peri’s! This is as good as it gets! Stellar musicians with a  great sound!"

- PERI'S, FAIRFAX

 

Praise for HOJO MOJO WITH CHOJO (2003):

 

"A raucous performance!"
- San Jose Mercury News

 

Praise for self-titled HOUSTON JONES (2002):

"Acoustic Boomer blues with a taste of old country and enough rock 'n roll to rattle the floorboards. The album has the kind of musical warmth that recalls not a time or place, but a feeling akin to walking into your local saloon and catching an impromptu all-star night. Houston Jones offers bluesy heart, working class soul and the kind of smooth, blissful harmonies that, for a moment, put all things right. By the time it's over, you can almost smell the whiskey on your breath."

- COLIN TREVORROW, LOCAL MUSICIAN

 

"Their self-titled CD is a STUNNER!"

- DICK BRUNDLE, FIDDLING CRICKET RECORDS

 

"Five stars (out of five):  soulful vocal stylings - sizzling guitar sounds!!!
The San Francisco Bay Area seems to have a never ending stream of great bands and musicians flowing from inside the Golden Gate. Houston Jones' debut album is a true breath of fresh air. Listening to this album makes you want to NEVER buy a mainstream CD ever again...wonderful arrangements of obscure cover tunes with unexpected twists and turns. Honesty and virtuosity combine in a fluid mix of eclectic rhythms, angelic harmonies, and heart-felt lyrical interpretations. I think we'll be hearing more from these guys. If they are this good on CD, imagine what they must be like live. (I went to the website and they seem pretty busy. Makes me wish I lived closer to SF)."

- A MUSIC FAN FROM CALIFORNIA, POSTED AT AMAZON.COM

 

"Five stars (out of five): Bay Area band does wonderful job!

An amazing album. There doesn't seem to be a guitar style that Glenn hasn't mastered. Mexican, blue grass, and blues guitar performed with a skill that is unbelievable. Travis is a natural singer and the vocals are wonderful. The sensitive rhythm section and multi-part vocal harmonies make this album a keeper."

- A MUSIC FAN FROM TORONTO, POSTED AT AMAZON.COM

INDIVIDUAL ACCOLADES:

For percussionist, Peter Tucker:

"Interesting and inventive... one of the most creative percussionists to emerge in rock music."

- ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE

 

For lead guitarist, Glenn "Houston" Pomianek:

"The most amazing guitar player I've seen.  Wonderful lead guitar work.  An awesome player... great flat-picking... incredible."

- DAVE STAFFORD, KKUP-FM

 

"(With) long, liquid licks...there is nothing pretentious in Pomianek's manner -- his playing just seems to energize the rhythms and instigate a vollying conversation throughout the band."

-  CHERYL KOEHLER, THE CASTRO VALLEY FORUM

 

For lead singer, Travis Jones:

"One of the most promising new acts of the 1990's... A wonderful eclectic blend of original music and carefully crafted cover tunes.  Travis Jones' vocal stylings harken back to the days of honky tonks and road house rockabilly singers.  He is a unique Northern California treasure waiting to be discovered."

-  CALIFORNIA COUNTRY MUSIC ASSOCIATION

 

"Travis Jones, who sits front and center as the group's golden-throated lead vocalist, comes from a gospel background, and was even a Pentacostal minister for a time...there is nothing sanctimonious about his delivery, but Jones brings the stories out of the songs through voluptuous pathos."

- CHERYL KOEHLER, THE CASTRO VALLEY FORUM

 

"Travis has the finest singing voice in the San Francisco Bay Area."

Sleepy John Sandidge, host of “Please Stand By”, KPIG 107.5 FM, Freedom, CA

 

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