Michael Howard & The Magic Powers
Gig Seeker Pro

Michael Howard & The Magic Powers

Anchorage, Alaska, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Anchorage, Alaska, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Solo Folk Acoustic




""A Five-Star Folk CD""

About 30 seconds into this third CD from Michael Howard, who grew up playing in punk bands but now pledges allegiance to acoustic folk, I was already becoming a fan.

The first of the album’s 10 self-penned tracks, a lilting love song called “Meet Me at the Front Lines,” is a lyrically rich minor classic that reminds me a bit of underappreciated 60s singer/songwriter Patrick Sky. Much of the rest of this minimally produced, mostly live-in-the-studio album is just as impressive. On standouts like the title cut, “Hog Butcher, Hog Butcher,” and the exquisite “Cigarettes Are Fine,” the Anchorage, Alaska-based Howard showcases an ability to write about familiar subjects in fresh ways.

Two cohorts provide backup on upright bass, piano, pump organ, and percussion, but Howard employs their instrumentation economically. His acoustic guitar and distinctive vocals—which both sometimes recall early Donovan—are what you’ll mostly hear on Gasoline Dream, and it’s a testament to his talent that they're more than enough to captivate.

Remember the first time you encountered Steve Goodman, John Prine, Steve Forbert, Nick Drake, or Jesse Winchester? That’s how I feel listening to Howard—as if I’ve discovered the real deal, a one-of-a-kind singer who also loves words and knows how to put them together in memorable ways. Like Dylan’s lyrics, Howard’s can be enigmatic, but they always draw you in and make you want to get to the root of what he’s saying. I can’t wait to find out where he goes from here.


Jeff Burger’s books include Lennon on Lennon: Conversations with John Lennon (due out Nov. 1, 2016), Springsteen on Springsteen: Interviews, Speeches, and Encounters, and Leonard Cohen on Leonard Cohen: Interviews and Encounters. His website, byjeffburger.com, contains more than four decades' worth of music reviews and commentary. - No Depression

""Punk Do-It-Yourself Ethic Morphs Into Americana Brilliance""

The first thing that is intriguing about Michael Howard is his quirky voice. Now, some may say that’s not a compliment. But, in the context that I am referring the Howard voice is not like all the rubber-stamped, standard, connect the dot voices that flood the airwaves today and are passed off as great singers. No, not here.

Howard has that attractive quirky voice that comes from the well of other quirky voices. You know, Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, John Prine, Tom Rapp (Pearls Before Swine), David Surkamp (Pavlov’s Dog), Dave Cousins (Strawbs), Mark Renner ("The Wild House”), Steve Gregoropoulos (The Wild Stares – “Piece of the Picture”) and yes, a little of Woody Guthrie in spirit. There are others – these singers don’t necessarily remind me of Michael’s vocals – they are all part of the special family of male vocalists who sing with stylized voices that are patently their own. These are voices that are not common in presentation, but wholly unique, evocative, exuberant, and with a potency only people who can appreciate sophisticated edges can embrace.

You may need a little patience with this album, but the voice will come around and lift you. It will captivate and soothe your frayed nerves. Howard is a former punk rock singer turned singer-songwriter who has managed to inject lots of punk-energy into an older genre of Americana. It will be because they don’t sound like anyone else in your deep ears which makes it almost a punk-folk hybrid. Your mind will instinctively gravitate to this special sound and what they are singing about. The voice alone is not what will grip you, but the construction of the marvelous lyrics and music – even in Michael Howard who doesn’t perform in any bombastic, over the top way.

His effects are strategically placed, his voice and lyrics are one, the music is mature and I may add -- very well expressed.

There is a drama to songs like “Dealing with the Details,” – and yes…what a great song title. Cymbal swooshes, deep cello type tones (probably from the upright bass of Kevin Worrell). The style throughout is similar to an obscure, great singer-songwriter Jeff Campbell, (not the singer on YouTube. The vocalist I am referring to sounds like Cat Stevens only deeper – who had a 1978 independent album ("Live One On the Wire") on Oneiric Records that was incredible.

Probably because the LP was one of the first vinyl albums recorded direct-to-disc live digitally. Campbell had a voice similar to Michael. Very similar to Michael that they could be "soul brothers."

Michael is a folk singer; however, he has a firm grip on a style that is more like short-story-singer because each song is like a little story. There is a plot, a tale, and in many cases characters, and these vignettes are assembled with potency.

“King of Spades,” is sung with legendary folky Phil Ochs abandon with a touch of Billy Bragg balls.

Just when you think it’s just a flash in the pan, Howard interprets his poignant “Cigarettes Are Fine,” and this is like a lost Woody Guthrie folk ballad found on the side of the road. There’s an attractive, unpolished veneer to it all. All the foreign country, edgy out on the skids society references are there and finely sewn into the lyrics. I guess if you think about it logically, it would have taken a former punk rocker to metamorphose into a latter day, modern-day Woody Guthrie type. Stamp this one “authentic” – they are songs that are simply taking this old world, much travelled road tradition, into a new century and one of the voices that does it is Michael Howard’s and it’s perfectly suited for it.

Now, setting aside the heavy stuff, Michael provides a beautiful and delighful melody with “Oh, Donegal,” and though he doesn’t sound like Paul Hyde (of The Payolas – on YouTube), this song is the kind of splendid style Hyde has become famous for. Hyde’s “I Miss My Mind the Most,” comes to mind. This is the most accessible Howard tune.

The title track “Gasoline Dream,” culminates the album with lovely acoustic guitar and proves what a remarkable songwriter Howard is. He certainly deserves to take his place besides the likes of Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson, Tom Waits, Steve Earle, John Prine & Jimmy Webb as singer-songwriters who are consistently covered by many respectable artists. This album deserved to have a lyric booklet enclosed because the songs are that good and you would want to sing along at times.

The opener to this collection is an acoustic driven “Meet Me at the Front Lines,” – with the fervent guitars by Michael. The vocals are powerful, the lyrical tale is tight and it simmers in the mind and heart. This is up there with the best of Neil Young easily. There is also a Fred Neil quality to the songwriting though Fred had a far deeper and polished voice than Michael. Michael, however, makes up for it with his vocal character. It fits the song perfectly. “…with asphalt in her hair.” “Meet me at the front lines I hear something’s going on….”

Nice touch…real nice.

The recorded live in the studio “Hog Butcher, Hog Butcher,” has a quaint acoustic guitar style of Hot Tuna, the tone of Jorma Kaukonen & Jack Casady (former Jefferson Airplane) in their acoustic inception. This is also a formal, stylistic tune with folky, a little awkward, but workable lyrics in the old style of Woody Guthrie by way of poet Carl Sandburg – who originally coined the term in his famous opening lines of the poem “Chicago.”

“Andy’s Song,” is an upbeat track with a hint of the style of Howard Werth & The Moonbeams. Werth used his patented and wonderful quirky-vocal in his sad, but dynamic “Fading Star,” (available on YouTube for investigating). I like this approach – I like these types of vocals because Michael joins a small, special family of vocalists who are rich in personality when they sing.

The Michael Howard band is small, but instinctively reliable – Michael Howard plays the acoustic guitars and synths. Kevin Worrell plucks the upright bass, bangs proficiently on the piano and pump organ. Andrew Maguire provides the balanced creative percussion. The ten-song inspired collection of “Gasoline Dreams,” was recorded in San Francisco, CA and produced by Jacob Winik.

Website: http://www.mhowardmusic.com/

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/michaelhowardalaska

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/michaelhowardak

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this review / commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of No Depression. All photography is owned by the respective photographers and is their copyrighted image; credited where photographer’s name was known & being used here solely as reference and will be removed on request. YouTube images are standard YouTube license.

John Apice / No Depression / December 2016 - No Depression

""You feel its greatness, it feels important...it’s so difficult to write words to qualify how good, how vital this record is." "9 out of 10""

"Al Stewart, James Taylor, even Bare Naked Ladies, but mostly Cat Stevens is its comparison, a heavy weight field and it is certainly worthy of such company."

So I wrote a review, can’t remember of who, but their friend liked it, so they sent me their record, and this is that record. I’ve lived with this record for a long time, pushed it to the bottom of the review pile, not because I don’t like it, more I don’t understand it, I’ve struggled to get the voice for it, of how to describe it. Procrastinate no more, it’s an odd record, the tunes aren’t melodies in the conventional form, however that is its charm, for that’s what it is, beguiling, strangely confusing. It is like being in love for the first time, or so you think, it whirls, douses you, spins you hither and thither, just like being in love for the first time, or so you think, it’s a wonderful experience. Al Stewart, James Taylor, even Bare Naked Ladies, but mostly Cat Stevens is its comparison, a heavy weight field and it is certainly worthy of such company.

Wordy, interweaving guitars lines, Howards voice is so different sounding, he’s transportive, it’s a crafted thing of remarkable beauty, a record for a sunny moment in one breath, the next your darkest hour. Full of quirky flourishes; shakers, off mic talking, it is poetic, and if it is not too crass reminds me of American Pie or Mathew and Son at times. You feel its greatness, it feels important, like hearing Nick Drake or Penguin Eggs for the first time, it has a heft, a weight, it’s a leather bound tome of a record. His verbosity rather than alienating, or confusing pulls you, tangles with your head. The jumbles of words twist your head, ‘Brutal Heart with its straight vocal is Howard as a band, pedal steel brings an additional depth to his voice, self-harmonising. Alaska produces some interesting artists, maybe it’s the disconnection, the wilderness, he sings “with the oil came houses, with houses came a town with no feeling”, sharp observations of the changes in his state. He does a very good Damien Rice, minus the bloated choral, with some strings on ‘Tiny Birch Basket’ and ‘A Town with no River’ respectively. My favourite, today at least is ‘The Girl from the Dogwood Forest’, it is so hard to choose, and it is so mood dependent. The main point is, it’s so difficult to write words to qualify how good, how vital this record is, to give it it’s just deserts, when I struggle for words I always turn to the classics; “Try it, try it, and you will see” – Dr Seuss. - Americana-UK

"Premier and Song of the Day - Michael Howard - "Meet Met at the Front Lines""

Our Song of the Day is a premiere from Michael Howard, a singer-songwriter from Anchorage, Alaska, who, before pursuing music, was a community organizer and activist. Meet Me At The Front Lines is taken from his forthcoming album Gasoline Dream (released August 12, 2016) and demonstrates his ongoing commitment to activism through song. He shared this with us: "I began writing this song as a way of telling the story of two brothers. One brother being a metaphor for the social upheaval in America in the 60’s, the other brother being the nascent Occupy Wall Street movement around 2012. Songwriters in America in the 60’s gave voice to very pressing issues and I feel strongly that there are so many issues in the world today that songwriters should be giving voice to. In the song, the protagonist is a “lover” who sets a frame for telling the story and can ambiguously be interpreted as “the revolution” herself." - Folk Radio UK

""Howard makes 70's Cat Stevens style records, something that is hugely welcome and to be immensely proud of.""

There is Alaska in the heart of this record, wide open spaces, a record conceived under big skies, fresh air filled lungs, bears at the front door and the scent of tree sap in your nose. It's a collection of mystical, spiritual tunes, other worldly, it's a set of songs that is transportative to a dreamy place, a better place where everything is just nicer - and a bit more 60's Dylan.

This is an album whose joy can be savoured pulling a rug over your knees on the back porch and looking at the stars or tossing another log on the fire, wind whipping at the door. It's soul medicine, like taking a vitamin shot to boost your immune system, Howard is able to conjure a feeling of well-being, of time spent beautifully wasting, noddling, a record to potter to, sounds to take a moment, think, and breath - a rare thing today.

It isn't an album that will be to everyone's taste, it is not immediate, and admittedly it takes several listens to permeate its exo-skeleton. Howard has made a returner, one of those records months after you last listened you seek out in the rack, a record you want to listen to, and will listen to in 20 years. Folk in the modern sense, it is stark, pared back, just his voice, guitar and smattering of keys.

It's wordy, often clunky, listen to him stuff "typewriter" in to 'Hog Butcher, Hog Butcher', but I love his attitude to "this is my message and its going in this tune at all cost", the conviction is palpable. He has things to say, he's going to say them, and fluff or frills will be remove in the name of economy, 'Andy's Song', and its message about the church is the proof to the point.

I have certainly said this to people before but Howard makes 70's Cat Stevens style records, something that is hugely welcome and to be immensely proud of. It is because of 'Gasoline Dreams' quirks, ticks and his quest to "be a better man, and I wish I was just not what I am" you are left with something wonderful, let's hope that next time he returns with Ethan Johns or Dave Cobb in tow and a full band - then he can truly blow our minds.

Rudie Humphrey - FATEA Acoustic Music Magazine

""He is an explorer and an inventor...The singer-songwriter and activist follows in the tradition of great American socially-conscious storytelling songwriters.""

Alaska native Michael Howard will release his new album, Gasoline Dream, this Friday, August 12th. The singer-songwriter and activist follows in the tradition of great American socially-conscious storytelling songwriters; he is also an outsider, culturally and musically. Even though his American Heartland lies at the edge of the Last Frontier, his music reads the pulse of contemporary society, no matter where its coordinates may lie.
Howard grew up playing in punk bands, and knows what it is to be removed, living on the edge of civilization. Being formed as an adolescent by punk’s do-it-yourself ethic, he is an explorer and an inventor, creatively speaking. After many dark Alaskan winters touring the rest of the state and long Arctic summers as a community organizer and activist, his unique perspective has come to fruition in Gasoline Dream, a collection of poetic Americana born from life on the road.

“Andy’s Song” was inspired by the life of a friend, and tells an unfinished modern-day story of love and heartbreak, in true troubadour style.
Mother Church Pew is proud to present “Andy’s Song” by Michael Howard, give it a listen: - Mother Church Pew

""Mold-breaking songwriter""

Thursday July 17, 2014 - Mold-breaking songwriter Michael Howard returns from his national tour and recording circuit - Tap Root Alaska

""Stand-out folk songs...there is fierceness in his music""

...The Caribou and the Wolf is a nine song musical journey. Depending on your personal taste, there are stand-out folk songs like “Frozen Winter Sun” and “I Am,” both deeply personal songs that rely heavily on clear, concise vocals and sparse guitar work. If you’re looking for indie rock dance jams, then title track “The Caribou and the Wolf” and the “Vancouver (BC) Remix” have you covered.
Howard says that making this album was about finding himself and it was predominantly recorded in his basement alone. It is at once intimate and catchy, a feat not easily accomplished by even a veteran songwriter. Howard says of The Caribou and the Wolf: “My take on this album is that I’m happy with it, but it’s definitely me finding myself. I’m experimenting. Through this process I found my sound, I developed a lot and now I’m excited to record the new stuff I’ve written since then.”
A few tracks feature familiar names in the local scene: Evan Phillips recorded one of the songs, Matt Eley of The Modern Savage threw down some drums and vocals and the whole project was mixed and mastered by James Glaves of the Monolith Agency. These collaborations definitely add to the varying sound of the album. Most of the tracks were recorded by Howard himself, but it’s not hard to see how the album ended up sounding varied and eclectic.
Howard also collaborated with Juneau visual artist Rich Tagaban who created a large-screen printed fabric that has been cut into individual patches, which come with the purchase of Howard’s album. While he may have left his day job in community development, Howard has obviously still continued to apply his experience in that field to his musical endeavors as well by utilizing the talent of his friends and neighbors with this work.
After releasing the album Howard went on tour with the Super Saturated Sugar Strings. They just recently returned from three months on the road, rambling around most of the western United States and parts of Canada. Howard says his time with the band on the road was one of the best and most important experiences of his life. It’s something he’s eager to continue doing, and he’s already set up a series of shows all over the state over the next few months. Some of those dates are playing with the Super Saturated Sugar Strings, some of them are incorporating other local musicians like Anna Lynch and Matt Hopper. Audiences can look forward to songs from his current album as well as new stuff he’s written since its release.
The last year has been good to Howard and has seen a lot of change and upheaval. Life on the road is notoriously rigorous and exhausting. He’s weathered it all with an easy-going attitude and a resolute digging in of his heels to make it work. Barely back from tour, he’s hit the ground running and is already planning his next adventure out. In addition to the Alaskan tour dates he also has plans in the works to record his second album in a professional studio.
(edited from top of article... Howard has a history with Anchorage that is hard to deny: deep roots in the local music scene and a career in community development. He was instrumental in the Fairview revitalization process that has taken place over the last few years, sitting on the community council and starting the now annual Fairview Block Party. Now it’s all about the music. “Within the last year I’ve phased out of my job, put the community development stuff aside and hit the music full time,” Howard says.
In May of this year he released his first solo album The Caribou and the Wolf. For people who have watched Howard grow as a musician through his days of coffee shop gigs and punk and emo bands in the early 2000’s, his new album might sound a little like a musical resume. Although he has played as a member of a band in the past, Howard says of this new solo career and of songwriting that it was “something that’s been in my blood forever, this was the first step of follow through.”
His solo work has been that first foray into giving himself over to the process of songwriting. Each song is a reflection of where Howard has been and where he sees himself going. Despite his floppy hair and soft eyes, there is fierceness in his music. His songs all have a subtext of fighting for something, even when he’s crooning forlornly about drowning his sorrows in bourbon. This album sounds a little chaotic; stylistically it’s all over the place. It is this chaos that provides an accurate reflection of the man who wrote these songs, who made this album and who lived these stories though.) - Anchorage Press: Interrogation

""His stories set the hook in the audience""

Michael Howard gave a fantastic performance at Arctic Entries this month. His stories set the hook in the audience and he reeled them in with sensational songs that were perfectly attuned to the event. He read the room, gave them all he had, and they responded in kind.
- Matt Rafferty, co-host, Arctic Entries (www.arcticentries.com) - Matt Raffterty, co-host, ArcticEntries.com

""Catchy instrumentation...Stripped down and melodic, takes you on a lyrical journey across the US in search of something that likely no longer exists, a picture of nostalgia drawn with words and chords.""

Transitioning from a band member to a solo act can be a daunting proposition, but it’s one that Anchorage native Michael Howard has embraced for his latest project. The Caribou and the Wolf, released this summer, is his premiere effort as a one-man act, having previously been a part of other Canis-themed groups Wolf Electric and We are Wolves. Another daunting proposition? Quitting your job in community development to record and tour with your new solo album. Michael accomplished all of these things in the past 7 months, having spent much of that time on the road with fellow Anchorage band Super Saturated Sugar Strings, winding across the Western US, Canada, and Alaska.

Breathy folk styling with catchy instrumentation, the album doesn’t settle easily into a defined genre but the diversity keeps listeners on their toes. The distinct percussion on “Kansas is Burning” in concert with the politicized lyrics (“We were kings smiling when we stole the land”) conjures images of marching through the streets, arms linked with your wronged brethren. It leaves the listener with a lingering feeling of taking a stand for something, although what that something is seems purposely unclear. If there’s a track that is representative of the general feel of the album, it feels like “Chasing Rabbits” is it. Stripped down and melodic, the song takes you on a lyrical journey across the US in search of something that likely no longer exists, a picture of nostalgia drawn with words and chords.

In anticipation of his two shows in town, we asked him the hard questions – why we’re better than our neighbors to the south and what motivates him to tour.

Describe your sound to someone who has never heard of you – in 4 words.

Vulnerable. Fierce. Intimate. Melting. (All words that others have used for my shows…)

What do you love about performing live?

You can communicate and translate things in poetry and music during a performance that tap into deep emotional and spiritual parts of our human existence that are lost in much of our day to day living. A crazy thing happens at shows, well sometimes, where normal human barriers melt. Or sometimes people are just drunk and noisy and I try to entertain them! The audience and me get to enter into a very personal and special dimension for a while during the show. I’m always learning about it as I go.

You’re at the end of a 4 month tour – what motivates you to keep touring?

Oh geez. At this point it’s more a matter of trying to manage my life in a way that it doesn’t totally fall apart while I’m touring and playing music. It’s one of the most beautiful ways to exist – touring and playing music – I’d like to grow old doing what I’m doing right now!

Given from where you hail, you’re the perfect candidate to give us the top 2 reasons that Fairbanks is better than Anchorage.

Um that’s a tough one. But if I had to answer:

Reason 1: It’s not Anchorage
Reason 2: Better Northern Lights viewing, and closer to Chena hot springs

You’ve been part of a few bands in the past. What’s better about being solo v. being part of a band? Worse?

Being solo I can be alone with my inspirations and my guitar, always working and writing whenever the urge comes. I also love the flexibility, being able to manage my own time, recording, promoting, booking, all on my own schedule. It’s also very limiting, because songwriters have a tricky job trying to engage noisy bars, where so much music happens. One person can travel much more easily, there’s no schedules to coordinate. But again, you’re limited because one person is just one person. A band can have such a larger impact being so much bigger and engaging.

Do you have a muse?

Like a girl? I am in love with lots of people. Or a thing that inspires me? I’m usually inspired by friends, lovers, and the ebb and flow of life.

What’s the process of writing a song like for you?

Terrifying and amazing. My songs have developed and changed so much over the past year. More recently, I’ve honed my craft to be able to recognize when inspirations come to me, then I take the notion and flesh it out, toss ideas and lyrics around. I usually also have some favorite chords I’ll be playing with, then I kind of mix and match them up. Sometimes it works beautifully and instantly. Sometimes songs sit for 6 months and some never get put together. I dropped a few songs when I recorded “The Caribou and the Wolf”, and some songs I’ve been working on since before that album, and they’ve since come together. Every once in awhile I write a song in a day. It’s happened maybe once…

Who are you listening to right now?

Jeffrey Martin and also The Shook Twins. Both amazing artists we met this past summer on tour, both living in Portland, Oregon at the moment. Check them out!

What’s your favorite smell?

Old books in the library. I’m glad you asked!

What’s next for you?

Recording my second album, and touring around the Pacific Northwest. There a - FairbanksAlaska.com

"Michael Howard "breaking hearts across America""

October 2012 - "12 Hottest Bands in Alaska" Catch Michael Howard in Alaska while you can. He’s frequently on the road breaking hearts across America with his moving lyrics. He’s currently promoting The Caribou and the Wolf, his first solo album. - Alaska Tour Jobs

"Best New Bands in America: 2011"

The Boston Phoenix picks Wolf Electric as one of top two new bands in Alaska. - Boston Phoenix

"Remodeling The Builders and the Butchers"

During the summertime, Anchorage concertgoers show up in t-shirts and shorts, flowers in their hair and beers in hand. Extra energy is expended during long hikes and camping trips, a good portion of the population is tanned and lithe. People are excited to hear live music and feeling the benefits of long, sunny days. Not so in winter. Those Anchorage concertgoers who venture out in to the frozen evenings to attend shows are pale, resplendent with newly added alcohol weight, half-mad with Vitamin D depravation. They are driven to the local bars and venues with a ravenous need for live music and socialization.
Or maybe I'm just talking about myself.
Lead singer of The Builders and Butchers, Ryan Sollee, originally from Anchorage as is the majority of the band, has also noticed a tangible difference depending on the season. "I've noticed that shows differ by audience, depending on the time of year," Sollee says. Referencing a previous winter performance, Sollee says that it was one of the best, most energetic audiences he had seen in his home state. Luckily, for the pale and downtrodden masses, The Builders and Butchers will be breaking the spell of cabin fever with the musical equivalent of a two-for-one deal.
Although many might not consider epic and mostly acoustic ballads (with a good dose of organ) congruent with "burly rock," members of The Builders are not to be pigeonholed. Still touring on their February release of Dead Reckoning, The Builders and Butchers are returning for their second First Tap of the year and bringing along Turbo Perfecto, the side project of two members. Turbo will be opening for the The Builders as well as performing at the S Lounge on Tuesday, November 29, with local bands Ghost Hands and the Eternal Cowboys. Michael Howard, local musician and Fairview resident, is attempting to revitalize the nearby S Lounge with a weekly open mic night and live acts. The arrival of Turbo Perfecto provided the perfect opportunity for a kickoff to the process. "I saw it listed in the shows that Turbo Perfecto was opening for The Builders and Butchers, so I decided to get them to headline at the S Lounge," explains Howard.
Turbo Perfecto is something a little different from what Builders and Butchers fans may have come to expect from band members. Something along the lines of metal (but not quite), Turbo Perfecto is raucous, explosive, and heavy. "I think [the band] calls [themselves] progressive metal," says Howard, although he coined the phrase "burly rock" during our phone interview. The two members of Builders who play in Turbo Perfecto are Justin Bier and Harvey Tumbleson, who play drums and guitar respectively. The third member of Turbo, Joe Simon (former member of Anatomy of Ghost) is coming along for the Alaska tour. Bier is the newest addition to the Builders team, taking the place of previous drummer Brandon Hafer. The rest of the Builders' lineup stays the same: Sollee as lead singer and guitarist, Willy Kunkle on bass, Ray Rude on organ.
Sollee says that Builders will debut some new material at this First Tap concert. In recent months, Sollee has discovered new sources of inspiration, such as the writing of Cormac McCarthy. "When we were getting reviews," Sollee explains, "[critics] were like ‘oh, [Sollee] must read a lot of Cormac McCarthy." However, this wasn't exactly true. Following the reviews, though, Sollee decided to look into the author famous for The Road and No Country For Old Men. Sollee says he took to it right away, but has gathered further musical inspiration from all across the board. "I like old stories," he says, "there are some overriding truths to a lot of fairytales, I think, and honestly a lot of them are pretty dark. They get prettied up over time, but the original document of Hansel and Gretel was totally horrifying." Don't get the wrong idea though, it's not just dark stories that spark Sollee's songwriting, he cites a few more sources: "Books, music, nature, just hearing a phrase."
As for Turbo Perfecto, the band seems to run on nothing but pure adrenaline and what Howard claims to be a twisted but great sense of humor. That being said, their explosive live act should be perfect to kick the S Lounge into new territory. Says Howard with excitement: "[The S Lounge] is a good place, with good people, and we'll run this show well." Luckily for the residents of the frozen state, there will now be multiple opportunities to break up the cabin fever, including shows in Fairbanks as well. "We're really, really excited" says Sollee. "It's always like a homecoming." - Anchorage Press


"Gasoline Dream" (self released, 2017)
"The Martyr and the Magician" (self released, 2016)



Alt-Folk / Americana / Songwriter

"A Five-Star Folk CD" - No Depression
"Remember the first time you encountered Steve Goodman, John Prine, Steve
Forbert, Nick Drake, or Jesse Winchester? That’s how I feel listening to
Howard - as if I’ve discovered the real deal, a one-of-a-kind singer
who also loves words and knows how to put them together in memorable
ways." - Jeff Burger

2015 Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Award
2014 Mountain Stage NewSong Contest Regional Finalist

SHARED STAGE WITH/OPENED FOR: Jeffrey Martin, J Wagner, John Craigie, Anna Tivel, Samatha Crain, Nick Jaina

Band Members