The 3rd CD by Houston Jones co-released on the Fiddling Cricket/Summerhill Records label takes you on a joyful one hour tour of love gone from bad to good, and back again, addictions discarded, traditions re-invented, darkness illuminated and by the end of the disc leaving you with the distinct feeling that you have traveled an inspired journey.
A Review of Houston Jones' "Three Crow Town"
Dirty Linen Magazine June/July 2006
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!"
A Review of Houston Jones from Billboard.Com
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!!"
A Review of Houston Jones
By Randy Kirchhof, Audio Engineer, North American Folk
Alliance Conference, Austin TX
"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."
"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, CA
- 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 Individual Biographies:
Lead Guitar, Background Vocals
Glenn is an accomplished player with influences ranging from T-Bone Walker, Albert King, B.B. King and Michael Bloomfield to Doc Watson, Albert Lee and James Burton. A co-founder in 1979 of the group Hearts on Fire, Glenn was nominated for "Best Lead Guitar" by the California Country Music Association (CCMA). While Glenn was with the group, Hearts on Fire earned a prestigious Bay Area Music Award (Bammie). Over the years, Glenn has shared billing with Hank Williams, Jr., Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, The David Grisman Quintet, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, John Hartford, Ricky Skaggs, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and The Tubes. In recent years, he has performed live and in the recording studio with Grammy Award winner Ramblin' Jack Elliott; he co-founded and played lead guitar for the critically acclaimed acoustic group The Waybacks; he has performed with blues legends Mark Naftalin and Nick Gravenites; and he has earned a second nomination for "Best Lead Guitar" from the CCMA. And yes, he plays left-handed upside down.
Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Background Vocals
A California Cajun from Shreveport, Lousiana, Travis' musical career began at the age of four, singing gospel duets with his mother, Lottie Adams, a recording artist for Paula Records. Travis' performance experience encompasses blues, rock and roll, R&B, country and bluegrass and he has been a member of several Bay Area bands including Large and In the Way where his bandmates included The Waybacks founders Chojo Jacques and Glenn Houston. Travis has recorded two of his own albums: "Lost Highway; The Legendary Music of Hank Williams" and "Dance All Night" and has shared the stage with John Berry, Michael Martin Murphy, Billy Ray Cyrus, Holly Dunn, Jerry Jeff Walker, and the Doobie Brothers. Travis also portrayed Hank Williams on stage in the critically acclaimed musical "Lost Highway - The Music and Legend of Hank Williams," where he won accolades for his evocation of this country music great. This led to other leading stage roles in the productions "Smoke on the Mountain" and "Pump Boys and Dinettes". Also a composer, Travis has created scores and original musical arrangements for several productions, including the heart-rendering play "The Grapes of Wrath".
Percussion, Background Vocals
Rolling Stone Magazine described Peter as "one of the most creative percussionists to emerge in rock music." Originally from Massachusetts, Peter's eclectic pro career began in the early 60's working with the Boston-based band The Monks featuring Brad Delp (who later became lead singer for the rock group Boston.) Peter also recorded in New York with Tim Hardin and worked with Richie Havens, Austin Delone, Grungy O'Muck and others. Peter has also worked with the ground-breaking rock band Guns and Butter, recording two albums on Atlantic Records. Later, on the West Coast, Peter played with the R&B band Pacific Gas and Electric and with Declan Mulligan and The Beau Brummels with whom he put out the Vince Welnick-produced single, "Back To Life." Peter has continued to play folk, jazz, country, blues and rock with many Bay Area Bands such as Large and in the Way, The Ray Price Club, Celtic Scandal, The Ron Price Band, The Lost River Band, The Gary Gates Band, Dallas Wayne, and most recently, The Waybacks, The Cowlicks, and of course, Houston Jones. Peter is a session drummer too, in many Bay Area recording studios, and especially for local music entrepreneur Kathi Goldmark where he has recorded with Warren Zevon, Skunk Baxter and authors Amy Tan, Steven King, and Norman Mailer.
Bass, Background Vocals
A classically trained cellist with a degree in ethnomusicology, Chris has performed and recorded with a bewildering array of artists, including Peter Rowan and Norah Jones. He is a long time collaborator with Telecaster wizard Jim Campilongo, playing with Jim in the legendary Ten Gallon Cats and various post-Cats ensembles. With drummer Peter Tucker, he was in the original rhythm section of those practitioners of acoustic mayhem, The Waybacks. In various musical incarnations, he has opened for Jerry Garcia, Lyle Lovett, Los Lobos, Bela Fleck and J.J. Cale, to name but a few. In addition to holding down the bass chair with Houston Jones, Chris can be seen locally with the Magic City Chamber of Commerce and Stephen Yerkey.
Keyboards, Accordion, Vocals
Henry Salvia was born a dim-witted but honest child in the Cagolugo section of Detroit.
As a child, he threatened his parents with becoming a drummer until he discovered that the piano was larger and heavier, so naturally he began to play it. After a long and undistinguished career performing in luxurious hotels and corner dives throughout the Metropolitan area, he decided to move to Los Angeles to expand his opportunities, and wound up in San Francisco.
Several years of playing rock and Top 40 in Detroit was ideal training for his role in the Billy Band , who played both kinds of music (country and western). After being replaced by a pedal steel guitar (though no one in the Billy Band played it, it looked better on stage than Henry), he moved to a roots rock band called the Hurricanes , where he was surprised to discover his wife singing for the band. So, he married her. It seemed the honorable thing to do.
All of this experience playing rock and country made him the logical selection as the piano player for the Johnny Nocturne band, who specialize in R&B, soul, and jazz. Henry's frenetic yet lyrical style (describe by bandleader John Firmin as "a cross between Carmen Cavallero and Cecil Taylor") is featured on several of their albums.
Henry has had the honor of working with artists such as Bo Diddley, Rickie Lee Jones, Johnny Colla (of Huey Lewis and the News), Big Jay McNeeley, Jessica Mitford, Tommy Ridgely, Al Kooper, Peter Coyote, Big Lou the Accordion Princess, Jan Fanucci, and (his favorite) Johnny Adams .