Wake Forest Listening Room: John Howie, Jr. & The Rosewood Bluff
Join Wake Forest Listening Room for one of their first shows in the new space. For details and tickets visit https://wakeforestlisteningroom.com
In 1995, John Howie Jr.’s honky-tonk band, the Two Dollar Pistols, emerged out of the North Carolina alt-country explosion that gave the world Whiskeytown and the Backsliders, among others. The Pistols spent twelve years traveling around the United States and Europe, making records for the esteemed Yep Roc label with an updated, soulful take on old-school country and honky-tonk sounds.
Over the course of seven albums – including a series of duets with Grammy nominee Tift Merritt – Howie and the band developed a sizable following, packing clubs on the East Coast and being flown to festivals in Europe, while the band’s albums regularly appeared on the Americana chart.
In that time, the Pistols shared the stage with a veritable who’s-who of country music legends, including Merle Haggard, Billy Joe Shaver, Dale Watson, BR-549, the Derailers, and many more, and were invited to play at Opryland in 2003.
When the Two Dollar Pistols went on an extended hiatus in 2008, Howie set about forming a new group, an expansion on the Pistols’ sound that broadened its musical scope to incorporate other influences that had crept into John’s songwriting, like Southern soul, rhythm and blues and country-rock.
That group, John Howie Jr. and the Rosewood Bluff, has released two full-length albums, and, like the Pistols, the Rosewood Bluff has shared the stage with big names like the legendary George Jones, Wayne Hancock, Shovels and Rope, and many more.
Both of the Rosewood Bluff’s albums, 2011’s Leavin’ Yesterday and 2014’s Everything Except Goodbye, were met with critical acclaim and received steady airplay on key programs like Sirius/XM’s Outlaw Country. The band’s five piece line up – that includes pedal steel guitar – allows for movement between honky-tonk shuffles, driving country-rock numbers, and deep soul ballads, all delivered via Howie’s rich baritone.
Howie spent the majority of 2016/2017 in the studio and on the road playing drums for Bloodshot Records artists Sarah Shook and the Disarmers, receiving a co-write credit for the song, “Fuck Up.” He left the Disarmers in late 2017 to continue to work on his own music, and released his critically acclaimed solo album, Not Tonight, which featured members of the Disarmers and the Rosewood Bluff, in September 2018. 2020 found John and the Rosewood Bluff releasing the “Better Things” single and video and working on a new album of original material, Never Enough, for release in 2023.