Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page
Howell Devine - Joshua Howell started playing harmonica
when he was 14, and by 17, he was sitting in and cutting heads with blues
bands in Oakland, CA. He quickly became the desired house harmonica player
in clubs such as Eli's Mile High and Your Place Too, though his under-age
status limited his exposure to only those clubs that could circumvent the
age restrictions. During this period, he took up guitar, intently focused on
learning the slide guitar styles of the Mississippi greats such as
McDowell, Bukka White,
Robert Johnson and
RL Burnside. While living in Santa
Cruz, Joshua pursued a successful career in guitar making, developing the
Howell & Forsyth Guitar Company. Though he continued to focus on playing
music and gigging locally, music as a profession took a back seat to lutherie. It wasn't until he moved to Thailand that he dedicated himself
entirely to musicianship, taking on over 15 gigs a week as a solo artist.
After three years playing professionally in Thailand's mountainous north,
Joshua returned to the U.S. and continued to perform in the San Francisco
Bay Area. When he crossed paths with drummer and percussionist Pete Devine,
they recognized their similar influences and musical sensibilities. Their
common approach effortlessly generated a powerhouse combo of inspired and
Pete Devine, originally from Maine, started playing drums when he was six years old. Since his move to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1989, he gained a national audience while playing with bands such as Bo Grumpus and Devine's Jug Band. From one of the founding members of Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers to a 20-year stint with the Mal Sharpe's Jazz Band, Pete's musical range is extensive. He also kept busy as drummer for the Jug Town Pirates as well as the gypsy jazz band, Gaucho, for nine years, the latter voted "SF's Best Jazz Band of 2009" by the SF Weekly's reader poll. His ongoing recording career spanning the last 20 years has yielded over 32 records, including a recent recording with Maria Muldaur's Garden of Joy Jug Band, an album that was nominated for a Grammy Award this past year! Pete's unique 'old time' drumming and jug blowing styles have taken him around the country, performing at venues such as SF's Great American Music Hall, SF's Davies Symphony Hall, The Danny Kay Theater in NYC for the JVC Jazz Festival, The Louisville Kentucky National Jug Band Jubilee, The LA Classic Jazz Festival, The SF Jazz Festival, The Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival in Missouri, and the famed Astoria Hotel in NYC, just to name a few.
Joe Kyle Jr. was fortunate enough to have been drafted into musical service during the Great Swing Wars of early-1990s San Francisco, when gigs were plentiful, public cigar smoking was legal and vintage clothes were still cheap. Since that time he has become an in-demand player known for his superb feel, musical agility and adaptability. Joe has been touring and recording with the Waybacks since mid-2001, and in such capacity has shared the stage with a host of notable roots music heroes including Bob Weir, Sam Bush, John Cowan, Joan Osborne, Jerry Douglas, Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, Danny Barnes, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Grace Potter, Mike Marshall, Darol Anger, Jim Lauderdale and Bela Fleck. He might be the only bassist to have played with Martin Denny, Al Kooper AND Pinetop Perkins, although not at the same time, sadly.
Safa Shokrai, Howell Devine's alternate bassist, also plays with local favorites Tin Cup Serenade and sometimes Gaucho, as well as international touring act, Rupa & The April Fishes. In his spare time he composes for Squillo Studios and studies primates.