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Hangin‘ with The Horndogs

Ross Boissoneau - August 18th, 2008
“Hey, I know. Let’s get a band together next week for a party, and then in a few years make a CD.”
Well, that’s not exactly the way the Fabulous Horndogs story goes, but it’s close. In mid-December 13 years ago, a friend of saxophonist Newt Cole told Cole he’d booked him for a New Year’s Eve party. Only problem was, Newt had no band.
A few phone calls later, and Newt had gathered a bunch of musician friends at his house. They worked up some tunes, and next thing you know, there were the Fabulous Horndogs.
“We rehearsed a few tunes, and it sounded pretty good,” recalled Mike Marois. Marois had known Cole for years, and had been guitarist with one of his previous groups, Newt and the Salamanders, which gigged across the Midwest in the ‘70s. “Then Newt said, ‘Who can sing?’ Nobody said anything, and then I raised my hand and said I could sing a little, and Tim (keyboardist Tim Wire) said he could too.”
Thus was born the group that bills itself as Michigan’s premier dance and party band. There have been numerous personnel changes over the years, and now Marois, Wire, and Jim Murphy on drums are the only originals left. Cole left three years ago to move to Florida, and the band is rounded out by Jack Conners on bass, Hank Lawler on trombone, and Al Anderson on sax.
And yes, the group has finally made a CD. Dog Tracks is a set of 10 songs that cover a variety of blues styles. While in a live setting the band can stretch out to jazz, funk and rock, the decision to keep the disc bluesy was a deliberate one.
“We wanted to have a theme of sorts, rather than be all over the place,” said Marois. “Familiarity was a key. We didn’t want to stumble over the music in the studio.”
Not that the tunes sound the same. Marois said they were very careful to program it so there was some variety in keys and tempo within the style. The opening “For You My Love” is a midtempo tune originally by Jimmy Reed, with a few shout-outs to local landmarks. “Red Beans” is an uptempo romp written by Professor Longhair, featuring the horns and Wire. “Tim comes from that Professor Longhair-Dr. John New Orleans style,” said Marois.
Marois shines on the decidedly slower “Blues as Blues Can Get,” while the band picks it back up on “Funky Kid.” It all adds up to an enjoyable, danceable set of blues.
Marois says that danceability is the key to all the Fabulous Horndogs’ music. “It’s stuff that moves your feet,” he said. “If it doesn’t make you move, if people can’t dance to it, then we shouldn’t be doing it.”
The Horndogs perform at various events around the region, from private parties to corporate events to the occasional nightclub show. Every Wednesday the rhythm section performs as the Stray Dogs at the Cedar Tavern.
Dog Tracks is available through the band’s website or on CD Baby, or for downloading at Digstation.com. For more information, go to the band’s website at fabuloushorndogs.com.




 
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