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Savoy Brown in town

One of the pioneer British blues bands of the 1960s plays Jazzbones

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Bobble Tiki is a has been. There’s no denying it. When it comes to the journey of life, Bobble Tiki has already seen his best years slip by, and now lives day-to-day under the realization that he’ll never be as fit, as spry, or as youthful as he was 20 years ago.

When Savoy Brown plays Jazzbones, this Saturday, Nov. 17, and Bobble Tiki slides through the door, it will be something of a has been convention. The guys who created Savoy Brown are old enough to be your grandpa’s weed dealer. Many people have probably relegated Savoy Brown to the history books of rock ’n’ roll — a thing of the past. To many, Savoy Brown is probably a distant, hazy, drug hampered memory.

Well, let the band’s show at Jazzbones be proof to the contrary — at least in name. While the original Savoy Brown lineup that debuted in 1966 is long gone, and the only original member scheduled in Tacoma on Saturday is guitarist Kim Simmonds, the hordes of aging fans happily paying 25 bucks to see the band seems to indicate that, somewhere, Savoy Brown lives on. It also seems to prove many have not relegated the band to the history books.

These days, the band is a threesome. Original guitarist Simmonds has manned the vocals for Savoy Brown (like 30-some people before him), and will be joined in Tacoma by drummer Mario Staiano and bassist Gerry Sorrentino. Their sound is still simple. Blues licks thick and dirty, Simmonds can produce them just like he did 40 years ago. While his vocals leave something to be desired, in a packed room of devoted fans, with the ultra tight rhythm section of Staiano and Sorrentino behind him, Simmonds and Savoy Brown still have enough in the tank to remind you why you remember them.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Savoy Brown’s existence, even more so than the 37 albums the band has created (including this year’s Steel), is the sheer number of musicians that have played with Savoy Brown over the course of their long career. While the numbers are not confirmed, estimates indicate that somewhere around 160 people have played in Savoy Brown since the band’s heyday in the early ’70s. The number is mind-boggling to Bobble Tiki. He’s no mathematician, but by Bobble Tiki’s estimate, that means one out of seven guys you see on the street, at one time or another, played with Savoy Brown. Who knew?

Bobble Tiki was not able to get an interview with any of the current members of Savoy Brown this week. He apologizes profusely. Instead, Bobble Tiki offers his readers an interview with Jeff Howell, who in addition to his time with Savoy Brown, also played with Foghat and the Outlaws. Currently, Howell is considered the best carpet installer in Ithaca, New York.

BOBBLE TIKI: So, Jeff, how’s it going? Savoy Brown is playing Tacoma this week, and since I saw on Wikipedia you played with Savoy Brown back in the day, I thought you might be interested in discussing the band with the Weekly Volcano?

JEFF HOWELL: Not really. I’m now the best carpet installer in Ithaca.

TIKI: Yes. I saw that on Wikipedia. I had no idea.

HOWELL: Yeah, so, that’s pretty much the deal. I lay carpet, and sometimes vinyl, and I’m pretty much the shit.

TIKI: Huh? That’s fascinating.


TIKI: But how does it compare to your time with Savoy Brown, who will play Jazzbones this Saturday?

HOWELL: It doesn’t really compare. Apples and oranges, really.

TIKI: Go on …

HOWELL: I mean, I lay carpet. I wear knee pads and bandage cuts with duct tape. There was a time when I played with Savoy Brown, not to mention Foghat and the Outlaws, but now I’m the best carpet installer in Ithaca. It even says so on Wikipedia.

TIKI: Yeah, I know. I mentioned that.

HOWELL: Did I mention I also do vinyl.

TIKI: Yes you did.


TIKI: Anything you’d like to add?

HOWELL: Not really.

A band calling themselves Savoy Brown, including original guitarist Kim Simmonds, will hit Jazzbones this Saturday. Tickets are 25 bucks. Depending on how you look at it, that may or may not be worth it. All Bobble Tiki can tell you is this: It won’t be the Savoy Brown you remember, but it’ll still be pretty damn good. Simmonds is a guitarist extraordinaire, and the other two dudes aren’t shabby either. Besides, you’re memory sucks. You were probably high in the ’70s.
As always, Bobble Tiki doesn’t care what you do this week, because he doesn’t even know you. Bobble Tiki’s got other things to worry about, like his questionable man crush on Matt Hasselback. Unless you can help Bobble Tiki do some real soul searching on the subject, and decipher what it all means, then Bobble Tiki is absolutely positive he doesn’t want to meet you. Besides, you can have Breakfast with Bobble Tiki every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at What more could you ask for? 

[Jazzbones, Saturday, Nov. 17, 9 p.m., $22-$25, 2803 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.396.9169]

Bobble Tiki is going out of his head via e-mail.

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