Photo by Alan Kresse
How would you describe your style of music?
Rockabilly; exciting but authentic, early rock n' roll and some vintage country.
How did you get into this style of music?
Louie: Originally from bands like the Blasters and Dave Edmunds. Then it was Sun Records stuff and finally locally seeing Go Cat Go, Tex Rubinowitz and Danny Gatton kinda sealed the deal for me.
Willie: Before Rockabilly I was already into classic country like Hank Williams, and Johnny Cash but hadn't looked very much into their music I remember first seeing Jerry Lee Lewis on the Johnny Cash show and was completely blown away with how talented he was and how much I liked his music which lead to exploring similar artists such as Carl Perkins, Elvis, and so on! After I just kept finding similar artists in the Rockabilly world and have been discovering the music ever since.
Eric: As a kid I got into old movies and swing/big band music. I started on tenor sax in grade school, and after seeing "Strike Up The Band" with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, I hoped that I could get other neighborhood kids to start playing instruments and we could have our own swing band. This was in the early 80's , and of course the interest wasn't shared by the other kids. But that interest in older music just kept growing, from swing and jazz into early rock and roll, rhythm and blues, etc. I started playing guitar in high school and was listening to a lot of 50's and 60's stuff at the time. Then The Paladins came through town (South Bend, Indiana is where I grew up) touring behind their first album; I was in high school, and my brother and I had to sort of talk our way into this bar where they were playing. They blew the roof off the place.
Thomas: As a child I had an ear full of music, growing up with forties swing and then fifties RnR from the AM radio waves. As a young adult I was playing drums in 60's RnR bands and then Hendrix/Who/Animals type bands. Then on to a decade or so of Blues and RnB type bands. Starting in the mid to late eighties I found myself working in a couple of DC area Rockabilly bands that played a lot of early Sun and Texas influenced tunes. Sine that time I find the Rockabilly and early black RnR music the most fun for me as a drummer to play. They contain all the elements of Rock and Roll, Swing, Hillbilly, earlier country, and a lot of great lyrics.
How did you come up with your band name?
Louie: I think I mighta come up with it after we all batted around lots of ideas. For our first gig we put Willie and the Hi-Notes on the original flyer and were set to go with that until Rock-A-Sonics came to mind and then we re-did the poster.
What is the background of your band members?
Louie: I used to play electric bass with roots rock bands and once toured with Nils Lofgren's band. After switching to upright I played with The Peashooters, JP McDermott & Western Bop, the Old Line Skiffle Combo, Marti Brom and Kiti Gartner. I continue to play with Jumpin' Jupiter, Jake Starr & the Delicious Fullness and the Natty Beaux.
Willie: I learned to play guitar at age 15 and first played around the Frederick area solo then started to preform with several free lance musicians around the area and eventually got my first group together playing anything from rockabilly to country to even Bob Dylan and played local around the area and have just recently learned how to juggle more than one band.
Eric: My brother and I formed a garage band in high school; I was still playing sax at the time, but started playing guitar then; mostly 60's stuff. During college I had a surf and garage trio variously called Vibrolux and the Rhinelanders. Also played at this time with the Churchkey 5 and had another group called the Bucketkickers that played both country and rhythm and blues. After school I rejoined with my brother, who was by now down in New Orleans, and we formed a hillbilly bop group called the Hurtt Brothers (naturally) as well as a surf band called the Swami's. Now I play locally with the Four Star Combo in addition to the Rock-A-Sonics.
Thomas: The Rockabilly bands I have worked with as a full member were: Pink and Black, The Reluctant Playboys, Kid Pharaoh and the No Goods, The Peashooters, Out Behind The Bar, JP McDermott and Western Bop, Hangover-Royale, The Atomic Swing Club, and now The Rock-A-Sonics for the last year and a half. Also worked with various other bands along the way.
Where can people purchase your music and or merchandise?
We've recorded about 10 tracks intended for demo or vanity cd purposes. Beginning to learn to write together but up til now everything's been covers. We don't have a label as yet. We've been offered a couple studio/label opportunities but just in discussion stage currently.
How long has your band been together?
We got together in January of 2014 with original intent of playing one show- a Buddy Holly tribute. But it was fun and things fell into place so easily we decided to keep it going and become a band.
What do you like the most about the Rockabilly scene?
Louie: It's mostly about the music for me but I do like the 50's culture that goes with it. I love that there are bands and dancers and scensters all around the globe that are truly passionate about rockin' music.
Willie: Well of course I love the music but I also love the style of the clothes, the cars, the attitude you can't keep a good rocking thing down!
Who are your music idols, who influences your music?
Willie: Huge influences include Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, The Everly brothers, George Jones, hank Williams, Johnny cash then others include Louis prima, Marty Robbins, pasty clone, Ricky Nelson, and Sam Cooke
Thomas: Anybody that can sing and play well that can present a tune or song in a compelling way. It has to rock and it has to swing. I like artists such as The Paladins, Big Sandy, Deke Dickerson, Carl Sonny Leyland, Brian Setzer, the Modern Don Juans, Ray Condo, Imelda May, Big Town Playboys, Phil Trigwell, The Blasters and many others.
What future events do you have planned?
We are booked at a big festival in PA called Musikfest this summer and then at the Hot Rod Rumble put on by the good folks of the Karb Kings club. Just hoping to continue to grow as a band, make a good record and get bigger and better gigs. I'd like to take this band to some of the big rab festivals, I think it'd be fun for Willie and I think we'd do well.
Do your band members have day jobs or do they make their dime as professional musicians?
All have day jobs. I think having a day job can actually help to make playing music more fun. If you're not relying on it for a sole source of income, then you may be more likely to enjoy it as a fun hobby and do it on your own terms, instead of decisions being monetarily driven and artistically compromising.
If day jobs, what type of work do they do?
Foodservice and catering, liquor store owner, architect, mattress store employee.
Do you or any of your band members collect records?
If so, what do you/ they collect?
Pretty much everything from the 1920s thru the sixties and beyond. Hot jazz, Western swing, hillbilly, gypsy jazz, rockabilly, small band swing, r&b, cool jazz, r&r, jump blues, doo wop, soul, big beat, British invasion, garage, punk, roots rock, country, tex mex, surf and instro,
What is your most memorable experience at a concert?
Louie: When I was on a Nils Lofgren tour in London, Ringo Starr sat in with us on a couple encore songs. That afternoon before soundcheck, I happened to have a newly purchased pair of Beatle boots with me as I was being introduced to Ringo. We both laughed at the irony when I opened the bag and showed him what I just bought.
Other than that it probably attending and playing at the three Rockin' 50s Fests in Green Bay. Those were amazing and so many of the legends were still alive then and they booked them all. Seeing the Comets in their 70s and 80s still playing with the same energy as their youth was awe inspiring.
Last but not least, what makes this band tick?
Louie: Collaborating with the twenty year old Willie Barry is a blast. He is overflowing with talent and knowledge of the music despite barely being out of diapers. :-) Besides that, he's easygoing and fun to work with.
Willie: Working with such established musicians who certainly have no shortage of experience and of course know their way around the music style. Everyone gets along well and are easy to work with!
The Rock-A-Sonics are a rockabilly band from the Washington, DC area. They first got together just to play a single show-a few songs at a Buddy Holly tribute in early 2014. Things went so well they decided to continue as an ongoing band. The rhythm section, upright bassist Louie Newmyer and drummer Tom Bowes, have played together for years in various bands including J.P. McDermott & Western Bop. Louie and Tom, looking for talent for their annual Buddy Holly show and having heard about a "rockabilly kid" up near Frederick, Maryland eventually tracked down nineteen year old singer/guitarist, Willie Barry. Willie, who had already been performing for several years on the streets and in coffee houses around Frederick, agreed to sing on the show. Eric Hurtt was recruited next on lead guitar. Eric excels in the Grady Martin/Scotty Moore style of guitar playing. At rehearsals, Willie surprised his more seasoned bandmates with his knowledge of all things Elvis. Not only did he know every Elvis song and own all of his movies, but he could tell you who played on each recording. Their bond was instant. Their common enthusiasm for rockabilly, country and early rock 'n' roll was very strong. The Rock-A-Sonics were born.
In short order, the Rock-A-Sonics have been getting good shows and excellent reviews.They're currently wrapping up their first long player, which should be out soon.