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Steve Howell - Since I Saw You Last

Out of the Past Music, LLC

12 Tracks, 47 minutes 46 seconds

Style: Rural-Acoustic-Folk-Country-Rockabilly-Blues

Ok, who’s Steve Howell? He’s a Texan whose younger-year stints in Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Florida, and South Wales influenced him to be the diverse musician and devoted musicologist that he’s become today. Thanks to his early influences of finger-picking country blues, Delta Blues and traditional New Orleans style jazz, Since I Saw You Last sounds more like his personal gift to the listener, and it’s definitely a vessel for floating the cultures and ranges of musical forms, styles, genres and traditions to the next generation.

The players are Steve Howell (vocals, acoustic, electric, and bottleneck guitar), Joe Osborn (bass and 12-string guitar), Arnie Cottrell (acoustic and bottleneck guitar, mandolin and vocals), Darren Osborn (drums and percussion), Chris Michaels (electric guitar and bass), Dave Hoffpauir (drums and vocals), and Brian Basco (keyboards). This is a band of seasoned veteran fellow musicians and friends to whom Steve gives much credit and thanks for the CD’s success.

With my usual ‘plug in and play with no debriefing’ style, I was immediately thrust into an old-timey front-porch house-band mood with Track 1’s “Ðowntown Blues”, a Frank Stokes original. I knew at this moment I’d like Steve Howell because he had chosen songs to keep us connected to very early roots and fathers of blues, the likes of Frank Stokes, a Memphis blues musician and blackface minstrel.

Track 2 “Acadian Lullaby”, though penned by Howell’s friend Jim Mize, has all the makings of an Americana Buffett feel, paying homage to our fellow Louisiana Cajun friends and their lifestyle. Track 3 is Warren Smith’s “Red Cadillac & Black Moustache”, of the Sun Records and Rockabilly Hall of Fame gang. Though slightly more laid back than the Elvis-Warren style of the 50’s, Steve delivers his own convincing rendition. He then takes us back to the 50s-60’s R&B California style with Track 4’s “Farmer John”. Listen to the great guitar and slide of Steve, Chris Michaels and Arnie Cottrell (slide).

“Charlie James”, a Texan Mance Lipscomb original (1895-1976), is Steve’s personal favorite and mine. You’ll enjoy the haunting emotive ballad with its showcasing of the band’s precisely seasoned finger-picking talent. From the doo-wop sounds of “I Won’t Cry”, the Folsom Prison Blues and slide of “Wild About My Lovin”, to the R&B inflected torch song “Since I Fell For You”, you’ll enjoy this romantic melodic segment of a carefully track-positioned CD.

Track 9 ushers back in early folk blues in the Blind Lemon Jefferson tune “Easy Rider Blues” and is both sung and played with a 1900’s rustic jug-band reminiscent sound. Track 10 “Crawlin King Snake” (John Lee Hooker and Bernard Besman) is another CD favorite because it takes me down to the Crossroads, the ‘Delta’. Steve and the band might as well be sittin’ in Red’s Lounge Clarksdale, MS for this one! On to Track 11 and Willie Dixon/Taj Mahal’s “Little Red Hen”. Steve slides his vocals as playfully as the instrumentalists do. Ending with the 20’s tune “Ready For the River”, Steve’s liner notes tell us that he’s been playing this one for 35 years and never tires of it. I can see why—it’s beautifully finger-picked, sweetly delivered and tenderly sung.

Steve Howell deserves kudos for enlightening and encouraging root music blues lovers to connect their music past with their music present by bridging the early beginnings of the late 1800’s with the later modern twists, evolutions and commercial successes through the 60’s. It’s clear this CD and song selection was a near-and-dear project to Steve, so please sit back, relax and enjoy your ride on that great Americana-Western music train Since I Saw You Last.

Reviewer Belinda Foster is a Web-TV Host for, a Columnist and Contributing Writer for Greenville SC Magazine “Industry Mag” and former manager of Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’Blues. She is a devoted promoter and support of live blues root music and history, making frequent trips to Clarksdale MS and the Delta Region. Her column “The Upstate Blues Report can be found on line at

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