The Idle Americans
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The Idle Americans

Band Rock Blues


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"This band was HOT!"

Wed., July 2, 2008
“After catching a few Deb Callahan numbers at the Cat's Eye, it was my good fortune to wander over to Bertha's where the Idle Americans were tearing the joint up! Previously shy, young, demure Matt Kelly has stepped up front and center and was nailing every pitch out of sight on vocals while playing some scorching guitar. And he had plenty of help with guitar duty from even younger phenom Zach Sweeney on rhythm guitar who was also playing some smokin' solos. This band was HOT! Ed and Tobi will testify. Matt Kelly has joined Jamie Lynch and Pete Kanaras in the "Blues musicians moved to Baltimore club". All three will be playing tomorrow night at the Cat's Eye. I hope to see more Idle American gigs in the Baltimore area in the near future. You've got to see this band!”

Fri., July 18, 2008
“I had a great time down at the Surf Club last Friday. Paul Mastradone was particularly impressive with The Paulverizers and Matt Kelley had the place rockin' with The Idle Americans. I even got to hear another rendition of my new favorite song: "She Left Me For Jesus". Thanks Matt. Here's hoping I can get a press kit for the Idle Americans so we can hear more of them in Baltimore and surroundings.”

Tues., September 23rd, 2008
“Matt Kelley's recent performance with the Pete Kanaras [former Nighthawks’ guitarist] Blues Band at the Cat's Eye with ace rhythm section Steve Potter and Scott Stump won him a bunch of new fans - among them was the owner Ana Marie who had not previously seen Matt. Ana got so excited listening to Matt that she dragged me up to the dance floor. Don't picture that. Her enthusiasm led her to book Matt on his requested night - Tuesday. You can catch him with his band The Idle Americans on 10/7. Don't tell me you've got something better to do on a Tuesday night - I know better. You'll be amazed at 16 [sic 18] year old Zach Sweeney pickin' on guitar for all the world like Danny Gatton and the eclectic roots music that the band expertly delivers. No doubt this will become a regular monthly gig. Make sure you check it out.”

-Steve Keirn “BB Steve”
Writer & Critic
Author of “Blues Nation” Thread on
Baltimore Blues Society Website Front Porch Forum
- Steve Kierns, author of Blues Nation Thread on Baltimore Blues Society website forum, www.mojoworkin

"The Idle Americans - "An excellent local group""

Excerpt from online article, "Get the Blues This Weekend" featuring two local blues jams at Bangkok Blues where blues fans can honor the memory of local blues legend John Cephas.

"... an electric jam hosted by the Idle Americans, an excellent local group, from 7 to 11 pm. Bring your instrument, get up and dance, or just hang out at the bar and listen. Admission is free, and the Thai food is great."

-Fritz Hahn, The Washington Post, March 6, 2009. - The Washington Post

""Baltimore's Rollicking" - The Idle Americans"

"Baltimore's Rollicking" Idle Americans' performances at Bangkok Blues highlighted in Washingtonian Magazine's "Where to Hear Live Music," by Matt Carr and Cristina Daglas, Oct. 1, 2008.

"Here are some favorite Washington music venues - and highlights of their season - where you can be sure the acoustics will be good, the acts will be first-rate, and the joint will be jumpin’." - The Washingtonian

"Idle Americans know how to roots-rock a crowd"

Idle Americans know how to roots-rock a crowd
The Maryland Independent, Southern Maryland Weekend, Friday, Aug. 22, 2008

Staff writer

The four-piece primal blues band usually kicks off the blues jam at the Country Store in Leonardtown with a 40-minute set.

A five-piece band is in the back of a bar knocking off one tune after another.

Call it rockabilly-speed rock chased with jagged blues. Call it straight ahead blues one second; call it roots-rock with a barely detectable twist of punk the next.

Rock and country tunes come burnished with blues guitar. Blues numbers are infused with rock licks.

The band which hosts this bi-weekly Country Store blues jam goes by the Idle Americans, a name that struck the frontman and lead guitarist Matt Kelley while watching ‘‘American Idol.”

Kelley looks about 24 going on 50. He wears a houndstooth fedora hat, and yet it is not hard to imagine him leading a throwback punk outfit.

In the middle of it all stands the bassist, Steve ‘‘Wolf” Crescenze, who played with ACME Blues Company for three years. He sports a gray ponytail and a tank top which only adds to his wolfman mystique.

Guitarist Zach Sweeney met Wolf at a blues jam when he was 13. He can flip-flop between finger-picking rhythm and energetic solos. Drummer Mike O’Donnell, meanwhile, as is usually the case, was picked up during a blues jam.

These guys often sound as raw as Bob Dylan’s first electric set. The set includes Eddie Cochrane’s ‘‘Twenty Flight Rock,” Louis Jordan’s ‘‘Caledonia,” Rev. Horton Heat’s ‘‘Bad Reputation,” Hank Williams’ ‘‘Tequila Makes Your Clothes Fall Off” and the crowd favorite, Tragically Hip’s ‘‘New Orleans is Sinking.”

Out comes an Idle Americans original, with Kelly playing rich, blues guitar while he sings from his own weird and comic place. He wrote the tune a few weeks ago, and afterwards he asks if anyone wants to guess the name. ‘‘Cigarettes and Alcohol,” someone shouts. You got it.

Idle Americans play at two speeds: fast and faster, even if the song is pop-country.

During an opening 40-minute set, the Country Store fills up with musicians ranging from teenagers to wily vets. One of Wolf’s skills, as it happens, is organizing these groups into compelling, trainwreck-free ensembles.

‘‘I’d like to thank everyone for coming out to the Beach Cove,” he says.

Uh, we’re in the Country Store, dude.

The young guy makes a joke about the old guy turning 74.

But the old guy counters. He nominates the young guy as the most likely one in the band to wake up in the morning and have a tattoo and not know where it came from.

Birth of a band

About a year and a half ago, ACME Blues Company was looking to add an extra guitar player to supplant another member’s wavering commitment.

Kelley was added to the mix, and Wolf said it did not work out. Still, he did not want to pass up a chance to play with Kelley. So another band, Idle Americans, was formed with the current members plus ACME lead singer Waverly Milor.

Milor, who recently moved to Charlottesville, Va., first dropped out of Idle Americans and then dropped out of ACME. Now it looks like the well-established ACME brand of ‘‘industrial-strength blues” is history.

Wolf sat at a table at the Beach Cove on a Wednesday evening, a couple hours before the group’s other bi-weekly blues jam.

‘‘The basis of most of it would be roots music,” Wolf said, trying to explain the Idle Americans’ aesthetic. ‘‘But we’re even stretching ...” Kelley, his hair finely slicked back, sat down. ‘‘We play songs that make girls dance and I like to play,” he said. ‘‘Those are the requirements.”

While ACME had a slight rock edge, it seemed mainly to cater to fans of traditional blues.

‘‘The interesting thing is it is being accepted by a diverse group of people,” Wolf said. ‘‘Places where we play that were blues-oriented, they like it.”

Kelley, on the other hand, was once more than a little particular about his music.

‘‘I was one of the blues Nazis,” he said. ‘‘As far as I was concerned, after ‘69 when Magic Sam died, music stopped. It’s just sort of lately that I’ve been getting into more rockabilly and country stuff. I always liked newer music but I never knew how to incorporate it into what I was doing, what I was singing.”

His tale has a similar ring to that of blues guitarists from the previous generation: He was in high school. He was listening to Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, read the liner notes and saw names like R. Johnson, E. Jones (Guitar Slim) and M. Morganfield (Muddy Waters). During high school and college he focused exclusively on Chicago blues from the ‘50s.

He lived in Memphis, then California, then Pennsylvania. He graduated from University of Maryland with a physics degree and taught seventh-grade science for three years.

‘‘That’s what gave him the blues,” Wolf said. ‘‘I got it because I taught for 32 years.”

Wolf, who lives near La Plata, taught shop classes at John Hanson Middle School in Waldorf.

‘‘I started playing in the garage band era. Actually,” he said, turning to Kelley, ‘‘I’m almost old enough to be your grandfather, and [Sweeney’s] grandfather is only a couple years older than me. So I am definitely the old guy in the band, by a long shot.

‘‘But you got into it because of cars and bikes,” Kelley said. ‘‘Nah,” Wolf said. ‘‘When I got into it in the ‘60s it was just because, ‘hey, girls like musicians.’”

He played for six years with a band called Sassafras T but tired of the endless cycle through which the band gathered momentum and fell apart. He sold his instruments and amps, put his stereo equipment in the attic, disconnected his car radio and did not touch an instrument for 34 years.

But in 2002, after his fourth divorce, Wolf decided to give music another try. A friend directed him to a jam; two weeks later he said he regained proficiency on bass.

‘‘The interesting thing was I actually got better,” Wolf said. ‘‘Once I got the technical part ... I could actually play more and do things I never thought about doing when I quit.” A few years later he got a job with ACME Blues, and his management skills garnered the group more gigs.

Meanwhile, Wolf, who surely once scoured the roots of popular music the same way Kelley did, recalls seeing the Idle Americans’ wiry sparkplug play for the first time at the Zoo Bar in Washington, D.C. and thinking he could be an interesting person to form a band around.

While Wolf is supplying most of the Idle Americans’ covers, Kelley, who seems to identify with the comic underpinnings which characterize most of the band’s covers, has written half-a-dozen originals in the past two months. ‘‘I don’t know how to be deep and sensitive and soulful,” he said, ‘‘but I know how to be funny sometimes.” Wolf jumped in: ‘‘He sings him the way he sings them and that’s the thing.”

‘‘And I tried singing Muddy like Muddy and Wolf like Wolf,” Kelley said, ‘‘and I hate when people try to sing Muddy like Muddy and Wolf like Wolf and can’t pull it off. If you can pull it off that’s a rare thing; you got to run with that. But I can’t, so I do what I can.”

Boston was playing softly in the background. Kelley stood up and walked away and reappeared on the stage about 10 minutes later to do a soundcheck with O’Donnell. Done with his dinner and glass of iced tea, Wolf grabbed his bass case and walked towards the stage.

Most people call him Steve, but his nickname is one that seems to define him in both obvious and subtle ways. You wonder how his life may have taken shape without it.

It was the early 1970s. ‘‘American Graffiti” had just been released.

‘‘I was reaming out a class from Hell,” Wolf said, and the most troublesome one shot back.

‘‘He just looked up at me and howled ‘ahhoo, ahhoo, Wolfman, Wolfman Jack, ahhoo’.”

Copyright ©, 2008 Southern Maryland Newspapers - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Privacy Statement
- Southern Maryland Weekend


Note: songs recorded live (hence not studio-enhanced) at landmark club - Chick Hall's Surf Club, Hyattsville, MD.



"An Excellent Local Group"
-The Washington Post

"Baltimore's Rollicking"
-The Washingtonian

Roots rock, rockabilly, jump & swing blues, alt & old country - originals and covers. We're in the studio now.

NOTE: songs recorded live (hence not studio-enhanced) at landmark music venue - Chick Hall's Surf Club!

Check out our calendar - we're a very busy and successful band that plays a variety of music and knows how to please a crowd!

We are accomplished, professional-level musicians who understand the business end as well as the entertainment side of live music. We play long sets and take short breaks to hold the crowds. We develop a strong following wherever we perform regularly. We accomplish this through our lively, entertaining and engaging performances on stage, as well as our ongoing promotional efforts. Besides advertising our performances in local print media and online calendar sites, we presently have an 1000+ email list and send a newsletter to our fans weekly. We host several very popular blues jams: Bangkok Blues in Falls Church, VA (every Sunday) and Fat Boys Country Store in Leonardtown, MD (1st Fridays & 3rd Saturdays) and until they closed in Dec. 2008, hosted the Beach Cove blues jam in Chesapeake Beach, MD for more than 4 years.

Matt Kelley: Guitar player and front man Matt Kelley began playing music at the age of 13, when he realized he liked girls and, like most musicians, found that girls liked music. Perhaps due to the fact that he has lived all over the United States, his music tastes wildly fluctuate on a daily basis, but periodically return to Hollywood Fats, Reverend Horton Heat, The Pixies, Guitar Slim and Amy Winehouse. When he settled in the DC area, he began hitting the many blues jams the area offered. There he met, was influenced by, and later began performing with such local greats as Big Boy Little, Flat Foot Sam, Glen Moomau, Rusty Bogart and Pete Kanaras of The Nighthawks fame. He played in The Gold Tops, a group he helped form before joining The Idle Americans. He and Wolf are also members of the Big Boy Little Band which hosts the popular Zoo Bar blues jam on Thursdays in Washington, DC.

Zach Sweeney: Simply stated, Zach plays guitar. The youngest member of the group began playing at the age of 6 and has scarcely laid it down since. His earliest influences were Led Zepplin and Eric Clapton, and later B.B. King, Robert Johnson, Buck Owens, Johnny Cash and local great Danny Gatton. He formed his first band, Zach Sweeney & The Old Weenies in 2005 and more recently began performing with 3-time Wammie nominated ACME Blues Company. His long list of credits includes Clarence “The Bluesman” Turner, Vernon Santmyer, Martha Capone, Bob Hume, Brook Yoder and local groups Primitive Mind, The Breakaway and Doc Bodine & The Bodacious Blues.

Steve "Wolf" Crescenze: Wolf began playing bass with various bands in the DC area during the garage band era of the 60s, most notably with Sassafras Tea. Recently, he has been seen onstage performing with Pinetop Perkins, Guitar Shorty, Zac Harmon, Daryl Davis, Linwood Taylor, Clarence “The Bluesman” Turner, The Big Boy Little Band with Bret Littlehales and Rusty Bogart, Mike Westcott of Blues on Board, The Skyla Burrell Band, ACME Blues Company, One Bad Jack and DrMove. He currently hosts the Blues Jams at Bangkok Blues in Falls Church, VA and The Country Store in Leonardtown, MD. He and Matt are also members of the Big Boy Little Band which hosts the popular Zoo Bar blues jam on Thursdays in Washington, DC.

Scott Rabino: Scott Rabino is a drum performer and instructor in the Washington DC metro area. He has over 20 years' experience playing in the musical genres of rock, blues, pop, and r&b. Scott has toured nationally with Tommy Castro, and is well-known in his hometown San Francisco Bay Area blues family.

Influences: Reverend Horton Heat, Carl Perkins, Anson Funderburgh & the Rockets, Pee Wee Crayton, Louis Jordan, Johnny 'Guitar' Watson, Junior Watson, Muddy Waters, Drive-by Truckers, Johnn Cash, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Hank Williams I & III, Kid Ramos, Albert Collins, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Freddie King, Little Charlie & the Nightcats, Magic Sam, Ray Charles, Hayes Carll, The Ventures, The Blasters, Hollywood Fats, Tragically Hip, Bill Kirchen, Sasquatch, Stray Cats, Guitar Slim, Eddie Cochran, Snooks Eaglin, Jimmie Vaughan, Nick Curran, Sean Costello (rip)

Sounds Like: 60s AM radio

Some reviews ...

"An Excellent Local Group"
- Fritz Hahn, The Washington Post

"Baltimore's Rollicking" Idle Americans' performances at Bangkok Blues highlighted in Washingtonian Magazine's "Where to Hear Live Music," by Matt Carr and Cristina Daglas, Oct. 1, 2008

"Here are some favorite Washington music venues - and highlights of their season - where you can be sure the acoustics will be good, the acts will be first-rate, and the joint will be jumpin’."