From The Alternate Root - the online source for Roots Music
Featured Artists of the Week: 11-1-11
Girl Howdy - Honky Tonk Hair
For all those who follow the ‘higher the hair, closer to God” theory of grooming, you have got yourselves one hell of an anthem! Girl Howdy reel back and let loose with “Honky Tonk Hair” in song and as the title of the latest E.P. It is a mixed gender band chores, the gentlemen hold down the rhtyhm bottom and the ladies rule the front of the stage with steel and flat-top guitar, piano and harmonies fused together like Louella’s beehive after being under the dryer just a little too long. Girl Howdy rip and roar with a honky tonk heart, granting access into their world, where the carpet is always rolled back to allow for dancing.
Blue Suede News, Issue #94
Girl Howdy / Honky Tonk Hair
Sure is great to hear Betsy-Dawn Williams again! She’s one of the three women who front this Bostan area Honky Tonk outfit, and the writer of the title song, which reminds me of Guy Allen & The Extreme’s “Great Big Country Western Hair”, only even better. You just can’t beat a line like “Land sakes alive, no I can’t behave when I got my beehive.” Piano player Paula Bradley is the excellent main lead singer, though Betsy-Dawn sings harmony, and lead on her own “Eenie Meenie Miney,” the one other original amongst the 6 songs on this too short CD. The rhythm section is male, and the covers include Boudleaux Bryan’s “Tryin’ To Forget The blues,” “Honky Tonk Merry Go Round,” “Apartment Number 9,” and Roger Miller’s “Invitation To The Blues.” Steel player Rose Sinclair also sings harmony on one tune, and provides solid steel throughout. Sure wish we could hear this group on a regular basis right here in Seattle! I hope this CD lands them a gig at a festival that we are able to attend. Girlhowdyband.com -MB
From the MASS. BEAT
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Girl Howdy Rocks the House at Vincent's
It was kinda quiet at Vincents last night when I arrived. To be fair, 9:30 was a little early for this local favorite hotspot. It’s a place to go after you’ve been somewhere else—dinner, another performance, or just late getting out of the house. Vincent’s is always dependable because it's open later than most places and, more often than not, the music makes you “sit up and take notice.” I love it because it’s the place where I get to discover bands and musicians I haven’t heard before and tonight was no exception. I really enjoyed talking to Betsy-Dawn Williams of Girl Howdy over the phone and listened online to some of the music, but didn’t really know what to expect, hearing this band live.
Well, I thought, as I entered and glanced around the bar, they certainly LOOK the part, attired in western wear and cowboy boots, “stompin’ at the bit” to get started. Not that I really know what a honky-tonk band looks like. As I settled in, I looked around at the growing crowd. Aside from what must have been some devoted fans that the band brought with them, the regular crowd had a look of anticipation, waiting to hear something new. This band looked different.
I didn’t even need to warm up to them. Right out of the gate, they were a foot-stompin’ band. Paula Bradley, piano and vocals, and Betsy Dawn, guitar and vocals, both have these great country-style twangy voices that are so different from each other, yet blend so well. Drummer Billy Nadeau and upright bass player, Brian Rost, had a great driving sound but couldn’t get much of them on video—Just Billy’s arms flying around behind Betsy Dawn. And then there’s Peter “Doctor Z” Zarkadas, the guitar player sitting in for steel guitar player Rose Sinclair. His solos certainly had the “twang” and he was so in sync, it seemed like he had played with this band forever. This is a band that knows how to have fun and this is a band that when you hear them, you just can’t help smiling. Let alone dancing.
After one set, the late night crowd started filling up the place. People loved the band, recognizing some old favorites like ”Stop, Look and Listen”, “Face to the Wall,” “Don’t Worry About Me” or the band’s title track “Honky Tonk Hair” and “Eenie Meenie Miney,” a couple of originals. I’m pretty sure the Girl Howdy newcomers experiencing this spirited performance for the first time will be following this band closely .
Review in Cri du Coyote 120
Four years ago we discovered the superb female group from New England on the occasion of their 2nd CD, live like the first. So, what is new? They are now three, BD, Rose and Paula, violinist Emma has left them. They benefit with the joining of Brian and Billy and this time entered a studio for six titles, made up of four covers and two original compoistions. Of course we regret there aren't the usual 12 titles because all are good. The covers, one will appreciate interpretations of all the honky tonk or the Moon Mullican jump style. But it's the two originals which are marked as the best: HT Hair and Eenie Meenie are hillbilly bops as it was in the 50s and again we'd love a double or triple dose. Perhaps for the next one we won't have to wait four more years.
CD: Girl Howdy’s “Honky Tonk Hair”
Nippertown.com August 2010
Girl Howdy(GirlHowdyBand.com, 2010):
“Tammy Faye said with a knowing nod,
‘The higher the hair, the closer to God’
And all I know is if that’s true
I’m already in heaven and enjoying the view
‘Cause I got…
Honky tonk hair – piled way up high
Honky tonk hair – straight up to the sky
Honky tonk hair – the kind that makes ‘em stare
Man sakes alive, no, I can’t behave when I got my beehive”
Yeah, the title track of the new Girl Howdy EP just about says it all. The frontline trio of guitarist Betsy Dawn Williams, pianist Paula Bradley and pedal steel guitarist Rose Sinclair are livin’ the old-school country honky tonk life, and with the able assistance of bassist Brian Rost and drummer Billy Nadeau, they’ve cooked up a smart, sharp six-song disc that would nestle nicely in any 1956 roadhouse jukebox.
The vocal harmonies are right on the money. The steel guitar-piano combo is a perfect melding of twang ‘n’ boogie woogie. And they’ve got the songs to back it all up, too. Originals like the title track and the rollicking roadhouse romp, “Eenie Meenie Miney,” cozy up to classics like the Tammy Wynette weeper “Apartment No. 9″ and the swingin’, Roger Miller-penned “Invitation to the Blues.”
Nothing sounds forced or rushed here. Even when the gals crank up the tempo, everything seems to slip right into the pocket. Girl Howdy obviously has a deep and abiding love for this music, and chances are you’ll feel the same way about Girl Howdy if you’re an old-school country fan.
Honky Tonk Hair
Art in Paradise: Get On Your Boots
Girl Howdy and the vintage country scene
Thursday, March 25, 2010
By James Heflin
Some CDs just sound right on the old vacuum tube-driven stereo cabinet in the basement. It mellows sharp edges, warms high notes in a retro sort of way, glowing a soft yellow all the while. That doesn't matter too much most of the time, but when it comes to Girl Howdy's Honky Tonk Hair, the vibe is just right.
The more I listen to the disc, the more certain I am of the notion that old-school country has suffered undeserved dismissal. Country music has always floated, at best, on the margins of respectability. It's the music of hillbillies, goat-ropers, and, as my self-professed "broken-down Arkansas hillbilly" father says, "gully jumpers." It's never been music for wine tastings.
From its rough-hewn hillbilly beginnings, country has turned to something nearly indistinguishable from any other hyper-produced, stadium-filling genre. The modern popular version of country mostly deserves rafts of scorn, landing as it does between soulless over-production and recycled pop-rock with boots on. It's a shame, though, that the current lackluster incarnations of the form carry the potential to eclipse, especially for new fans, the humble and soulful music they sprang from. Shania Twain and Kenny Chesney are only vaguely descendants of Hank Williams, Sr. and Patsy Cline.
Girl Howdy represents something entirely different from modern country glitz. Like few other bands in the Valley, it offers dedication to the kind of country that calls for matching shirts, and it brings to its two-stepping fans an exquisitely played, virtuosic retro country without smoke machines, choreography or pitch correction. Put with that lyrics like, "Well, Tammy Faye says with a knowing nod/ the higher the hair the closer to God/ and all I know is that if that's true/ I'm already in heaven and enjoyin' the view," and you've got a recipe for honky tonk paradise circa 1957.
The women (and two men) of Girl Howdy play music that caters to the kind of fan who's prone to dig deeply into genre, to buy box sets of obscure, banjo-toting country progenitors and to know who delivers quality lap steel playing two states away.
As a Texan who grew up around old-fashioned sounds, I thought I was fully stocked with knowledge of the hillbilly musical universe. But in talking music with Girl Howdy's steel player, Rose Sinclair, I've found out just how wide the world of old and new players of vintage sounds remains, and that plenty of gems lie undiscovered.
It's the same with the many subgenres and regional scenes that percolate in the Valley. They may not be as front and center as the Northampton-centric purveyors of original pop, but scratch the surface, and you discover whole networks of players and listeners devoted to specialized sounds.
CONCERT REVIEW: Girl Howdy at Harmony House
Rochester City Newspaper, Rochester, NY
By Dale Evans
As soon as I slid in the new CD, "Honky Tonk Hair," I was hooked on Girl Howdy's song of the same name. The chorus of "Land sake's alive, no, I can't behave when I got my beehive" has been playing in my head ever since, a testament to its hook-ability and perfect placement as the first tune on the disc. Any song that promotes the use of two cans of Aqua Net certainly intrigues me, but to get it swimming around in my head is another matter. Getting me to drive out to Webster on a Saturday night to hear it live is another matter on top of that. I dare anyone to listen to the song and not be singing it for days. Seriously, I dare you.
Bruce Handleman hasn't come up with a new idea with his Honky Tonk Dance Hall series, but he certainly is trying to make it authentic. The events take place in Webster's Harmony House, once the largest grange hall in the United States, which is a perfect venue with its large, hardwood dance floor and high, spacious stage. Downstairs is a dining room, which on other occasions has served as a space to lay out the pot-luck offerings, something that is encouraged at the events. The vittles were few this time around, so they put out a small table upstairs.
But it's not just the bring-a-dish-to-pass invitation that makes the Honky Tonk Dance Halls so welcoming. There are also dance lessons - led by Esther Brill and RJ Ruble - prior to the live music that make you feel like you are part of the event. If there are any wallflowers, it's because they want to be wallflowers. There are raffles, with the winnings of wine, CDs, spa services, gift certificates, etc. And, of course, there is a small bar tucked into the back corner, without a huge selection, but stocked with the ones that matter.
There wasn't a large crowd when I arrived on Saturday night, but people were trickling in at a steady rate. (By the time I left the dance floor was comfortably crowded.) I can safely say that 90 percent of the attendees were dancing. Girl Howdy perfectly complemented the dance-hall theme with its strolling tempos and smooth sashays.
The five-piece from Massachusetts is fronted by three women - Betsy-Dawn Williams, guitar; Paula Bradley, piano; Rose Sinclair, steel - who perform three-piece harmony flawlessly, supported by a rock-solid bottom of upright bass (Brian Rost) and a perfectly suited small drum kit (Billy Nadeau). The Howdy gals are so charismatic that I'd be tempted to think the rhythm section was simply backing them, if they didn't all work so harmoniously together.
Girl Howdy is nothing if not harmonious. The music was sweet and tangy, and I think the sounds of the smooth pedal steel lulled even a few wallflowers out to waltz. The only thing missing was sawdust on the floor. And alas, I didn't spot any beehives.
It’s Honky Tonk Time!
Girl Howdy's core--Betsy Dawn Williams, Paula Bradley, Rose Sinclair
and Emma O'Donnell--is rooted in bluegrass and old time music. After
all, they've played with the likes of Lost Wages, Pioneer Valley
Bluegrass, Robin and Linda Williams, Jim and Jenny & The Pinetops and
Bruce Molsky. But together they create a timeless, 1940s honky tonk
sound that never goes out of style.
Their EP length CD, It's Honky Tonk Time, reflects their love for the
music and the fun they have crafting their art. It's recorded live and
captures the energy of their performance. During each song you'll
forget it's live. The recording (Chris Cantwell, July 2005), mix, and
mastering (Joe Podlesney, Avocet Studios, Shelburne MA) excel and the
applause is unobtrusively faded between tracks.
Special guests June Drucker's driving bass and Paul McTaggert's drums
keep Howdy in the grove, whether they're swinging, rocking, or drowning
in a lonesome beer. Paula 's piano rounds out the rhythm section.
Both Betsy Dawn (guitar) and Paula sing lead and take turns providing
mutually supporting harmonies. As their voices waft through the
swinging doors and out into the dusty street, you could almost hear the
clinking of beer bottles inside.
Rose's steel and Emma's fiddle fit the music to a tee, further adding
to its authenticity. These characteristics--sweet harmonies, sliding
steel and sawing fiddle--define Girl Howdy's genuine jukebox sound.
With a few exceptions, males dominated the post-war Honky Tonk scene.
But in the 21st Century Girl Howdy rules--good for listening and for
It's Honky Tonk Time contains just six songs, and as expected, leaves
you wanting more. But, it's a bargain at just $10, available through
CD Baby linked to www. girlhowdyband.com.
Put this CD in your changer with some old Hank Williams, Ray Price and
Kitty Wells stuff. It's all good! Then, roll up the carpet and call
your friends for a dance.
So excuse them. They'll take the blame, moanin' the knee-deep blues,
rockin' and swingin' with a rollicking sound that'll sweep you off your
--Hudson Valley Bluegrass Association Jamboree
The Audiophile Voice
Vol. 12, No. 1
GIRL HOWDY IS made up of Betsy-Dawn Williams on rhythm guitar and doing the lead vocals, Paula Bradley on keyboards and helping out with the lead vocal chores, Rose Sinclair on steel guitar and singing back-up vocals, and Emma O'Donnell on fiddle and adding more vocals. Betsy hails from Chapel Hill, N.C., and possesses a voice just made for country music. Paula, who's from Huntington, W.Va., has a voice that is smoother and has less vibrato to it, sounding at times a bit like Patsy Cline. This is the group's first effort at producing a CD, and the effort was well worth it. It is a six song EP, and my only problem with it is that I wish it were longer. The four women, from all over the eastern part of the country, all somehow found each other and formed Girl Howdy.
Emma is from Cedar Rapids, lA, and learned to play classical violin at a young age, but soon found that country and bluegrass was calling her. She now lives in upstate NY. Along with Rose, who's from Midland, MI, the four together are far more than the sum of their individual parts. They play classic honky-tonk music, from Hank Williams to Buck Owens with a harmonious mix of their voices and instruments that is a real treat. The disc opens with "Knee Deep in the Blues," which fits Betsy-Dawn's vocal style to a "T." Her voice has a particular vibrato to it so that she sounds like a combination of Loretta Lynn and Stevie Nicks. Paula takes center stage with "You're Not Easy to Forget," at times seeming to channel the spirit of Patsy Cline. Paula's keyboard work is also worthy of note here, as is Emma's fiddle work. This band is tight, there are no miscues or slip-ups, each musician knowing what the others are capable of, and allowing the talents of the individuals to shine.
What really made me take notice of this disc was its sound quality. The sound is crisp and clear, the tinkle of Paula's keyboard extremely natural and extended in the high frequencies, yet with no digital "edge" as sometimes found on selfreleased recordings. On "Excuse Me, I Think I've Got A Heartache," an old Buck Owens song propelled in a swinging, jaunty style by Paula's keyboard and Rose's steel, a listener can easily separate out the individual voices and parts, a sign of a really first-rate recording. Another standout track is "Half as Much," which features both lead singers in harmony, and a fiddle-driven Bob Wills sound.
As this is a live recording, plenty of natural ambiance is present and the sense of being at a live performance is there in spades. June Drucker does a great job on bass, as does Paul McTaggart on drums. Since making this recording, the girls have had "guests" on stage with them doi ng bass and percussion during performances.
For fans of the honky tonk genre, this CD offers great performances and great sound, as well as the opportunity to help out an emerging group with the talent to go a long way in the business. Besides, I challenge anyone to listen to this recording and come away from it in a bad mood. The CD is available at their web site girlhowdyband.com or at cdbaby.com.