Before he got delivered, Steve Howell was afflicted with honky-tonk-itis, backslid and mired in twang, looking for a way out. "I had gotten farther and farther from wanting to grab an electric guitar and take an amp and put it on ten," he laughs about his antics with his former group the Backsliders. Although Howell admits he had fun at a 'Sliders reunion about a year ago with former partner Chip Robinson, there's not much chance that bunch will regroup. "There's no hard feelings about what happened and what was," Howell says, "but I think he [Robinson] was always more into the rock thing. I just like the melodies and that kind of songwriting thing more than anything else."
After the Backsliders, he joined the Two Dollar Pistols, "just to be able to play the guitar and not have to worry about where we're playing or where the PA is." Howell laid low after the Pistols, teaching at Harry's Guitar shop until Allyn Love walked in one day and started fooling with the pedal steel guitar set up in the corner. Howell liked the sound so much he decided to form a band on the spot.
The Steve Howell Band gigged around for a couple of years before Howell got busy domestically. "I got married, bought a house, a mini-van and got a little family kind of thing happening." They got back together last May, when The Pour House booker Marianne Taylor hired him for Twang Bang. It inspired the current lineup with Love on pedal steel, Pee Wee Watson on bass, ex-Six String Dragger Scott Miller on guitar and ex-Backslider Jeff Dennis on drums. The band recently opened for Jim Lauderdale, and Howell says they're energized and "ready to play these small places open to the Americana thing."
But it won't be Backslider music. "We certainly don't sound like a traditionalist band," Howell says. "Nobody's afraid to get a little rowdy, but we're not doing that out-of-control punk style guitar."
The Steve Howell Band plays Six String Cafe in Cary on Thursday, Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5.