Monday, December 22, 2014

Empire Rock Club T-shirt

Commemorative Empire Rock Club t-shirt [Sept 16, 1983 - May 5, 1990]. Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers gig is posted at top left: 12/29/84.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Conversation...

Guy: Hey! 

Me: Yeah? 

Guy: What can you tell me about Tommy Conwell? 

Me: Rocker Tommy Conwell? 

Guy: Yeah. 

Me: From Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers? 

Guy: Uh-huh. 

Me: Frontman for the band Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings? 

Guy: Right. 

Me: Guitar player for the 90’s band Buzz Zeemer? 

Guy: Sure. 

Me: Contributor to David Uosikkinen's In The Pocket project? 

Guy: Yeah, that guy. 

Me: One of the great guitarists in America, Philadelphia's own Tommy Conwell

Guy: Yes! 


Me: I don't really know much about him.

Originally posted on Audio Rumble's Facebook page.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Love's On Fire - American Music Awards

A mini- essay from Audio Rumble

It's been 25 years since Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers made their appearance on ABC's American Music Awards. (Sometime back in the 00's, the AMAs moved their televised event from late January every year to late November.)

A young DJ Caterina was watching television in Texas, unaware that her favorite band would be playing that night, Monday, January 30, 1989.

And when the announcer said “Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers” at the beginning of the show as one of the list of performers, I literally jumped out of my skin! My favorite band was performing!

To hear the cheering of the crowd when Tommy went down into the audience at the guitar solo of "Love's On Fire" was so amazing! At the time, I didn't know why he did it...I mean, it was a cool move, but I guess at the time, I just didn’t get it. 

But I never forgot it! 

TCYR's performance on the American Music Awards would be the first (and last) time that I would ever see the band perform live until the early 2000s. DJ Caterina has been catching up ever since... 

1989. Done right

Originally posted on Audio Rumble's Facebook page.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Tommy Conwell plays "Hideaway" - 1997

Per Wikipedia:

"Hide Away" or "Hideaway" is a blues guitar instrumental that has become "a standard for countless blues and rock musicians performing today".[1] First recorded in 1960 by Freddie King, the song became an R + B and pop chart hit. Since then, it has been interpreted and recorded by numerous blues and other musicians."

Here's one of Audio Rumble's favorite versions: Tommy Conwell plays "Hideaway"

Live From Walsh's Tavern
43rd and Walnut
Philadelphia, PA
Closing Night Extravaganza!
March 13, 1997

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

KC Pitch | Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers

          A December 1988 article from the KC Pitch, a free alternative weekly magazine distributed in Missouri's Kansas City metropolitan area. The article promotes Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers performing at The Lone Star in Kansas City on Dec. 13, 1988. 

Rock with the Rumblers 

          Check your samplers and sequencers at the door. Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers play straightforward, on-the-edge rock and roll, with no special effects or gimmicks to get in the way. This band relies on raw playing, clear singing and crisp songwriting to put their point across. 
          From their early days in the trenches of Philadelphia’s rock scene, the group has had a reputation for musical honesty. And their new album for Columbia, the aptly-titled “Rumble,” proves it. 
          Unlike most recordings, “Rumble” is true to the sound of the band. Through the sensitive production of Rick Chertoff (Cyndi Lauper, Patty Smyth, The Hooters), the energy of Conwell and the Rumblers is brought alive. “Some people think producers force the artist to do what they want or think will sell,” says Conwell. “But Rick is just the opposite of that. He tried to get me to be my very best, which is a very important goal, and the amazing thing is that he succeeded.” 
          Other collaborators, including Jules Shear and fellow Philly rocker Robert Hazard, added to the band’s raw, distinctive sound. “Most importantly,” says Conwell, “’Rumble’ sounds like us.” But as powerful as the new album is, Conwell and the Rumblers pack their most potent punch live. See for yourself, Tuesday, Dec. 13 at the Lone Star.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

New Year's Eve - The A's & Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers

See Philly's own The A's and Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers at The Trocadero on New Year's Eve! 

VIP tickets are available for purchase and include a meet and greet + a custom poster.

Grab your tickets online at Ticketfly

UPDATE: Sorry to report that The Trocadero show has been cancelled!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers - In Tune Magazine

Images of Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers "somewhere in Philly" posted to the In Tune Magazine's Facebook page. For a look at larger versions, visit their FB page

Monday, October 13, 2014

Rumble Talk: Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers, Live 1987

Rumble Talk: Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers, Live 1987
by DJ Caterina and Rotten Kid Joe

“Is everybody sweating? That’s because it’s damn good music!”

     Hey, even if you’re not sweating... are you ready to rock? Because we’re kicking off a new feature called Rumble Talk – a place where we review the best sounds in these parts...around this little plot of internet we call Audio Rumble
     To keep things on the up-and-up, DJ Caterina is also getting by with a little help from her friends for balance – and we don’t always agree!
     My guest this week is Joe from Facebook’s Rotten Kid's Music Den.   Joe has a great knowledge and interest in the song history of The Hooters, loves his rock 'n' roll, but also has a true appreciation for music across all genres. Join the Den if you want honest music opinions – those guys don’t bite, and it’s a great page!

     This week’s Rumble Talk entry is a review of a live performance by Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers, September 2, 1987, at Shenanigan's in Sea Isle City, New Jersey.

Tommy Conwell – vocals, lead guitar
Chris Day – backing vocals, guitar
Rob Miller – backing vocals, keyboards
Paul Slivka – bass
Jim Hannum

DJ Caterina:  My blog, Audio Rumble, usually only releases one ‘archived’ song at a time, but I had a special request last year for some full concerts by Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers from the 1986-1987 era. Request granted!
     My favorite songs from this performance include "Night and Day" and "How Long You Wanna Live Anyway"…however, listening to this again today, I am very blown away by “Crazy Mixed Up World.” I mean, really! Will you listen to Jim Hannum working a groove on those drums during the break?

Rotten Kid:  “How Long You Wanna Live” is a classic Stray Cats tune! Forgot that Tommy used to do this song! But I wonder if this concert is edited from its entire length? No way in 1987 the band didn't do “I’m Not Your Man,” “Loves on Fire,” “Everything They Say is True,” “Tonight's the Night,” etc. This was the height of the Walkin’ on the Water album… and it’s an odd set list. Wonder if this is the second set of the night? All the usual songs maybe played during the first set?
 DJ Caterina:  By June 1987, the band already knew they were signing with Columbia and this concert puts the five-man band together on the road for about 9 or 10 months, if not quite a year. This might have been a time where the band was trying out and/or rehearsing different songs for Rumble. For example, I notice “Smarty Pants” is played at the intro. That song is written by Tommy Conwell and doesn't show up again (as far as I know) until LList’s release of Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings' Hi-Ho-Silver.
     Also, "Maybe She's Just Not There" was played a lot around this time but did not make it to the final record - this leads me to my theory of them trying out new songs, revisiting past songs, etc. Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers went into the studio for Rumble in the fall of 1987.
Rotten Kid:  Hmmm. Very good observation, but still can't imagine them doing a show without the essential songs. Maybe they did two sets? I would guess this is only a partial show. It's almost a compilation of all the songs TCYR did live, but never recorded. Interesting.
     Back to the opening song, “Smarty Pants” – I don’t recall ever hearing this song. But I was too young for the bar shows. I did see the Young Rumblers a lot during this time period playing high schools and colleges where the shows would only be one straight show with no breaks. It could just be my poor memory that I don’t remember this song. I always remembered them opening with "Rumble."

DJ Caterina: Is it possible that they were holding the core Rumble songs for the studio recording? I mean, these would become the staple songs – "I’m Not Your Man," "Workout," plus the others you mentioned –  that the Young Rumblers would be known for. So, maybe it was just a matter of trying out newer material…at least for this concert?


     It is an odd set list with some songs that were usually reserved for the three-piece band. Also, I forget that sometimes there were early and late shows….

Rotten Kid: Come to think of it -- this is a Sea Isle (Jersey shore) performance – chances are they played two long sets – I will almost bet this is the second set – first set had all the standards and then this second set would be the after midnight “fun” song set. This was a week before Labor Day in 1987 so the summer was still going strong… Even when you see the Young Rumblers perform today, Tommy’s formula for song order seems to be doing all the popular songs early, and then he does covers and fun tunes for encores. His last show at Ardmore Music Hall was pretty much all covers during the encore if I am not mistaken….

DJ Caterina: You are correct, sir! By the way, Ardmore Music Hall was so packed. I can’t believe we were in the same music hall and didn’t get a chance to finally meet…next time, Joe!

Rotten Kid: So back to the tracks..."Crazy Mixed Up World" – is this an original? This is another song I don’t remember too well – the title is familiar enough but the song itself doesn’t sound familiar at all – it’s OK – not the best of his unreleased material. Guitar solo and breakdown are the best moments of the song.
     "Demolition Derby" is another song the Young Rumblers should record for a new album. This song is the heart and soul of his sound. Should be done properly in the studio. Give it a little punch and let it run wild!

DJ Caterina: This is a good version of Demolition Derby, but my favorite was probably played in Italy!

Rotten Kid: I think you are on to something, DJ Caterina – I do think these are songs considered for the album and maybe the band was holding off some of the Rumble songs – I know that I saw Tommy in concert a lot before the national album was released in 1988.
     I remember thinking “where did these songs come from” when I first heard Rumble because TYCR didn’t do them live before... Mainly I'm talking about "Tell Me What You Want Me To Be," "I Wanna Make You Happy," "Half a Heart" and "If We Never Meet Again."

DJ Caterina:  Right.

Rotten Kid: More thoughts as I listen to the rest of this concert...
“I Believe I’m In Love With You” – another song performed many times during this period. I would also add this to any potential TCYR new album. It's a great song that is pure Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers. Tommy doesn't have to re-invent the wheel if he records again...just stick to what makes the band great – simple guitar-oriented songs with great hooks and melodies.
     "How Long You Wanna Live Anyway?” is a great Stray Cats cover here:  blistering guitar work – takes a different direction with this cover – makes it more rockabilly – the Stray Cats version sounds more like the Ventures mixed with punk.

DJ Caterina:  That’s an interesting opinion you have on “How Long You Wanna Live” -- my take on this version is the exact opposite. I feel that the Young Rumblers really rock this song and take it as far away from rockabilly as humanly possibly compared to the Stray Cats version. TCYR sounds way more punk and edgy to me here than the original. Are we listening to two different tracks, Joe?
     Also, this is one of my favorite tracks that I’ve come across as of late from the Young Rumblers. Such great musicianship -- and the band is so confident!  You can tell that everyone from Tommy to Paul to Jim to Chris and Rob – each man knows their strength and role. In my honest opinion, they sound like “The Best Band in America - 1987” right here…
Rotten Kid:  Whoa! That's quite a statement! Here are some more of my reviews on these songs. “Truck Drivin' Son Of A Gun” by Dave Dudley – don’t remember hearing this one much either in concert – nice and rowdy.
     And "Sweet Home Chicago" is a good one. I always felt the Young Rumblers should have put this on a record – I love Tommy’s version of this song; it’s the best I’ve ever heard. On “I Knew the Bride – Tommy always made this Nick Lowe-penned song his own; it’s a great cover and I love it.

DJ Caterina: Yeah, there is a cover of “Sweet Home Chicago” by the Young Rumblers from the Bottom Line in the fall of 1988 that is beyond amazing. That particular one has always been my favorite – it really captures the wild spirit and enthusiasm of a TCYR concert.

Rotten Kid: “Walkin’ By Myself” with lead vocals by Chris Day – another great blues-based song. They played this song countless times during this period. It's a fun song. “Reelin’ and Rockin’” – I have visions of being drenched in sweat during this one - they ended their long night many times with this song.
      The more I look at this set list I am convinced that this has to be the second set of the night – they would come on around 10:30-ish play until 11:30-ish then take a break come back on after midnight play until a bit before 2 am. 

DJ Caterina: Well, at least we can agree that the band is rockin' this performance, right?

Rotten Kid: Right. “It’s Your Life” is another song that I always thought should have been recorded for one of the albums – I like this song a lot. Let’s hope the Young Rumblers record this for a new album. A lot of artists seem to be delving into their old demos from 20 years ago and just revamping them a bit. I really like this formula – Van Halen went down this path and it helped capture their sound from the early days. I think Tommy has plenty of good material that he has never released.
DJ Caterina: I agree that the Young Rumblers have some great unused material. And it seems that Tommy himself has been re-visiting some of the older, unreleased songs in the last few years. 
     For example, in March 2013, TC updated an unreleased demo called “May We All Be Here” -- played at Coffee Works in Voorhees, NJ. The lyrics were was so great to hear!
     And even earlier in 2013, he also performed “Time’s Gonna Make It Right” – a song co-written with Jules Shear (Rumble-era) at an acoustic show at The Blockley.
     So, it seems that Tommy is slowly re-visiting these old songs. It might take awhile for anything new to arrive, but for those of us keeping track, we are very excited about it. Only time will tell!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers - December 28, 1990

Vintage video of Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers live at Chestnut Cabaret - December 28, 1990.  It's just an 18-minute snippet of some songs - very incomplete, but it's still good stuff. 

- Nice 'n Naughty 
- Guitar Trouble 
- If We Never Meet It Again 
- I’m 17 
- Gonna Breakdown 

Love that intro of "Gonna Breakdown" at the end... sounds so great!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Pittsburgh Press - Tommy Conwell's Rumbling Pays Off [11/20/1990]

The Pittsburgh Press | “Tommy Conwell’s Rumbling Pays Off”
November 20, 1990
By Peter B. King 

          Philadelphia’s Tommy Conwell likes to strut across tabletops when he performs in clubs. Occasionally, he’ll even end up outside on the sidewalk, still coaxing wicked licks from his guitar.
          You don’t go to a university of rock ‘n’ roll performance to learn those moves. Where did Conwell pick up the tricks of his trade? From Dr. Harmonica, for one, the man to whom Conwell dedicated his new album, “Guitar Trouble.” And just who is Dr. Harmonica?
          “I was in his band for about two years, and he taught me a lot,” Conwell says over the phone from Philadelphia. “He was a heavy guy and played harmonica and told dirty jokes. He’d call himself ‘235 pounds of shakin’ bacon’ or…whatever he felt like saying on a particular night. He was funny.”
           Conwell, who performs tomorrow night at Graffiti, Oakland, says he has also learned from other blues and R and B performers like Albert Collins, James Brown, George Thorogood and Junior Wells.
          “In a blues show, a lot of the time a guy will do a crowd walk, and a lot of times there will be some funny stuff. So that’s what I try to do. The blues guys would always hold the guitar between the legs or behind their back – just crazy, that’s what I’m into.”
         Although he was raised in suburban Philadelphia, Conwell, now 28, came up through the same Newark, Del., college nightclub blues scene that spawned Thorogood and Dr. Harmonica. As a freshman at the University of Delaware, Conwell was an overzealous fan of Thorogood. “I’d see him at the bar in town, and from across the room I’d yell ‘Hey George!’ And he’d like totally ignore me. I hope that he doesn’t remember me from those days.”
          A few years after he pestered Thorogood, Conwell is as famous in his own right – at least locally. He formed the Young Rumblers and hooked up with Cornerstone Management, the same outfit that manages The Hooters. Rob Miller, the Rumblers’ keyboard player, was formerly a Hooter. Cornerstone also managed Billy Price and the Keystone Rhythm Band until their breakup (Glen Pavone, former KRB guitarist, auditioned for the Young Rumblers but wasn’t hired).
          In 1986, Conwell released an independent LP that sold 70,000 copies – more than enough to pique major label interest. Columbia Records signed him, although Conwell denies published reports that they paid about $300,000. Conwell’s first Columbia album, 1988’s “Rumble” sold respectably, with “I’m Not Your Man” getting a lot of airplay. The album was a mix of pop, arena rock and more R&B-based material. On the just-released “Guitar Trouble,” Conwell says he tried to get a little more rootsy.
           “I think on this one I told myself that I’m just gonna do what I enjoy doing the most, and what our audience over the years has always enjoyed the most.”
          As he seeks stardom, Conwell also has been seeking autographs for his guitar. He’s collected signatures from John Lee Hooker, Keith Richards, Chrissie Hynde, Johnny Ramone and the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, among others. Many of the autographs have been carved into the surface of his ax; Conwell keeps a knife in his guitar case for that very purpose.
           Conwell admits the high stakes in the music big leagues can make it tougher to have a good time with good-time rock ‘n’ roll.
          “Yeah, there’s all this money involved, and all these New York people. And boy, it can really take the fun out of it quick. I’ve kind of learned to just relax about that. Just because people are investing money in you, and they’re in New York, doesn’t mean you should kowtow to them in any way. Because then you might be ruining something that was special because it was innocent.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Roll With My Baby (live) - Ellipsis Plays the Music of Ray Charles featuring Tommy Conwell

Ray Charles was born today - September 23, 1930. We lost this legendary music pioneer in 2004.

"Ray Charles re-shaped the genre of soul music...fusing rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues styles" as well as "racially integrating country and pop music during the 1960s with his crossover success...most notably with his Modern Sounds albums."

So today - on what would have been the music great's 84th birthday - listen to  a cover of "Roll With My Baby" performed by Tommy Conwell and the jazz ensemble, Ellipsis, in 2009.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Audio Rumble List - Top 10 Songs Covered by Tommy Conwell

          DJ Caterina is a list girl – and once again, she’s gone too far! A list of Audio Rumble's favorite songs covered by Tommy Conwell with the Young Rumblers, Little Kings, solo, etc. Compiled by my iTunes playlist and some from memory. I'll also post a source of the artist version that may have inspired each song (just a guess, really)…and if you think I’m choosing the obvious, you might be surprised.
          And because I couldn’t keep the number to just 10, check out the honorable mentions, too. If you have your own faves, let’s hear about them on Facebook!
10. You Can't Sit Down - David Uosikkinen's In the Pocket

Source: The Dovells

          Look. I'm going to be honest. Tommy Conwell is my favorite part of seeing In the Pocket live. 

*audience gasp*
          Yes, yes...but this is a great song, Tommy makes it his own, and we can enjoy the other great Philly musicians, right?

9. Little Sister - Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers

Source: Elvis Presley
          …hey, Tommy called that little sister a what? Well, Hall and Oates also used that word in “Rich Girl” -- but maybe Elvis Presley himself should have included the b-word into this Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman-penned classic. It really works!
          Recorded l
ive at Gatsby's (Penn State) on April 10, 1987, this performance has the energy of what encompasses a lot of the five-piece band as they toured that year supporting Walkin' on the Water – a little bit rebellious, a whole lot of talent, a lot of fun – and a great band!

8. Make Believe - Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings

Source: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
           This 1999 release from LList Records is an Audio Rumble favorite and even inspired DJ Caterina to leave a review of one her favorite tracks on iTunes.

          "Conwell’s version of Joan Jett and the BlackHearts 'Make Believe' is more feminine and sweet at the chorus than the comparatively masculine original from Joan's 1981 debut album."

          But some of that sweetness may have also been inspired by a 1969 recording of 'Make Believe' - sung by Tony Orlando in a band called Wind.

7. Downtown Train - Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers

Source: Tom Waite
          Yes, Patty Smyth sings it beautifully and Rod Stewart released it more successfully than all the others. But this Tom Waite song has been a TCYR go-to ballad in concert for years. Also, if you were one of the lucky ones to hear the Young Rumblers perform “Downtown Train” back in May at the Ardmore Music Hall, you know this band always makes it their very own.

6. Sweet Home Chicago - Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers

Source: Buddy Guy
          Recorded live at NYC’s The Bottom Line on October 4, 1988, this blues classic really finds it’s rock edge – performed when the Young Rumblers were just hitting their stride and touring America with full force in support of the album Rumble in the fall of 1988.

5. Route 66 - Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers

Source: Chuck Berry
          Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers perform this music standard (written by American songwriter Bobby Troup in 1946) live at the historic Bayou in Washington, D.C. on May 13, 1987. 'Route 66' was also covered many times over the years by the 3-piece band, Tommy Conwell’s Young Rumblers. 

4. Big Big Love - Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers

Source: Nick Lowe

          As mentioned before on Audio Rumble, Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers perform "Big Big Love" live at Market St. Station in Wilkes-Barre, PA, Sept. 8, 1988.
          Plus, this concert gives you some great audio off the audience. Yeah, I think that girl is saying, "It's hot in here!" and then a guy says "How the hell are ya?"...this leads DJ Caterina to ask the rhetorical age-old concert question:

"Why are these people talking when Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers are playing live in front of them?"

*steps daintily off soap box*
          "Big Big Love" was written in 1961 by Ray Carroll and Wynn Stewart, the latter one of the originators of the Bakersfield sound. The track was also covered by Waylon Jennings in 1973, and released by Nick Lowe on the LP, Pinker and Prouder Than Previous, in 1988. The Young Rumblers add a rock-blues vibe with this performance, another great example of the band coming together so cohesively.

3. Back in the USA - Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers

Source: Chuck Berry
          Are we seeing a theme here? Tommy doing what Tommy does best
– Chuck Berry! Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers performing a cover of Chuck Berry's "Back in the USA" at the Pennsylvania State Fair, in Bensalem, PA, Memorial Day 1989.

2. King of the Road - Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers

Source: Roger Miller
          Another cover from Tommy Conwell that does justice to the Roger Miller original. Since Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers concert at the Electric Factory in 2012, this song has been in the setlist, performed just as it was in this live 1987 version, as a number during Tommy’s acoustic set.
          Sidebar: 'King of the Road' was also notably covered by Joe Strummer in live performances.

1. (TIE) Space Cowboy | Time Has Come Today - TCYR

Yes, it’s a tie! How else could an Audio Rumble list end?

Space Cowboy

Source: Steve Miller Band

          This version of Space Cowboy was originally sent to me by mail in the early 2000's via Marc in Kennett Square. In what he dubbed The Rumble Mix, it's our Young Rumblers kicking up the groove on this Steve Miller song. So much of this track is a real treat to hear - you have Chris Day on guitar going full-out metal on that guitar riff and Tommy singing in a lower vocal register – who told him to stop singing that way? 

 Time Has Come Today

Source: The Ramones

          There is a history of Tommy Conwell performing this Chambers Brothers  classic all the way back to the TCYR three-piece days. It's a reflection of Tommy’s love of good roots rock, roll and soul. However, this song was also covered by The Ramones, and even in concert to this day, every so often you can hear Tommy somewhat mimic Joey Ramones cool vocal.
          You’ll not find another band that covers this song so great. As Adrian Hickman so eloquently states, “More cowbell!”

Honorable Mentions:

* Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings - Poor Me 
Source: Fats Domino
* Tommy Conwell and the Dipsomaniacs - Long Live Rock  
Source: The Who

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings - 1997 Philly Inquirer Review

Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings are featured on the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Lifestyle and Entertainment Magazine section with a review of new release, Sho’ Gone Crazy! on Monday, September 8, 1997. 

Read the review by music journalist Tom Moon: 

Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings - Sho’ Gone Crazy! (Llist Records - 3½ stars): 
After more than a decade providing audiences with rousing live-music experiences, Tommy Conwell has at last made a record that documents his madcap sense of rock and roll and love for the blues. Conwell plays guitar you can get stung by, and here unleashes a stream of disarmingly nonchalant riffage – on the swinging instrumental Moanin’ and the anarchistic jump Pony Time – whose flexibility and concision shame most guitar-mag poster boys. Though Sho’ Gone Crazy! is full of basic 12-bar blues and rockabilly, it’s never tedious. Sounding as if he’s simply got to rock the house, Conwell invigorates music that provides him with an obvious life energy.
~ Tom Moon

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cassette Tape of Delaware Bands | 1981-1986

Thanks to Timothy Gager for passing this gem along... via DC Harbold - a cassette of Newark, DE bands from 1981-1986.

"Track 1 is Tommy playing bass with the Zippers. Track 2 is (Tommy) playing drums for The Christian Snipers."

Monday, August 18, 2014

Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings at Rockabilly Rumble - 8/17/14

Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings performed at last night's Rockabilly Rumble at World Cafe Live at the Queen.

  • Pony Time
  • All God's Children Wanna Rock
  • That's All
  • Betty Jean
  • Boogie Pickin'
  • Bip Bop Bip
  • Miss Shake It
  • I'm Not Your Man
  • Workout
  • Roll With Me Honey
  • Moanin'
  • Want You To Feel Good Too
  • Get Down and Ride
  • Guitar Trouble
  • Honey Hush 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings - Betty Jean, King Kong

It's Rockabilly Rumble weekend! Tommy Conwell is scheduled to perform at World Cafe Live - Wilmington on Sunday, August 17, 2014. Here's the evening schedule:

Rockabilly Rumble 2014 Music Schedule
Daytime: Doors open at 12pm 1:00pm

- 5:25pm: Bryan Russo and the Tragic Figures (Upstairs Live Indoors) 
- 5:35pm: The Bullets (Outdoor Stage)
- 6:20pm: Citizen’s Band Radio (Upstairs Live Indoors) 
- 7:00pm: Full Blown Cherry (Downstairs Live Indoors) 
- 8:00pm: Daniele Stallone and His Loud Roll Shuffle (Downstairs Live Indoors) 
- 9:00pm: Tommy Conwell Band (Downstairs Live Indoors) 
So get your rumble on!

And give a listen to Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings performing "Betty Jean" live at The Rusty Nail in Ardmore, PA (July 31, 1999).

Bonus! Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings performing "King Kong" at Grape Street Pub, November 13, 1999.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Review of "Rumble" - Delaware County Sunday Times, 8/7/1988

Sunday August 7, 1988 

Rumblers hit the big time
By Len Le Barth
Sunday Times Staff Writer 

Finally the wait is over.

One year after being the prized object sought in an intense war among a dozen record companies, local rock and roll heroes Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers are set to prove themselves beyond the Philadelphia area. This is the week Rumble, the band's debut album on Columbia Records, hits record stores across the nation.

The jury --- record-buyers and reviewers --- will be returning a verdict in the case of a hot-shot young rock 'n' roller and his four musical mates who have delivered a no-nonsense 10-track effort that accurately captures the straight-ahead approach espoused by the band on Delaware valley stages since its origin.
Longtime fans will surely be delighted that Rumble includes four songs found on the Rumblers' 1986 independent release, and the Chuck Berry-ish "Workout", which was an early Conwell composition. 

Produced by Rick Chertoff (Cyndi Lauper's She's So Unusual, Hooters Nervous Night and One Way Home), the album features the Rumblers' trademark blues-tinged, guitar-and-drums fueled sound but with a new focus on Rob Miller's keyboards (especially "Workout"), crafted harmonies and strong collaborative efforts between Conwell and several songwriters, including Jules Shear ("If She Knew What She Wants," a Bangles hit).
More importantly, however, is the fact that Conwell now sounds like a singer, not just another anonymous young punk who enjoys screaming and growling, although he does plenty of both on the promising debut. 

Think of [Conwell] as George Thorogood's younger brother who apprenticed with the Ramones but thinks Charlie Parker was the greatest musician that ever lived.

Side One kicks off with a frenetic reworked version of "I'm Not Your Man," that starts with buzz-saw guitar chords, then finds Conwell doing an amusing (albeit initially annoying) "bad woman" rap reminiscent of Springsteen's live comments back when the Boss was into having fun.

Always a great driving-with-the-top-down-and radio-blasting tune, the new rendition, which has been on local radio for a couple weeks, is now even more gutsy, with the guitar heroics of Conwell and rhythm guitarist Chris Day complemented by Miller's heavy pounding of the ivories. 

The three other tunes from the Rumblers' local-label record Walkin' on the Water --- "Love's on Fire," "Everything They Say is True," (both co-written by Conwell and Robert Hazard) and the title track --- remain virtually unchanged on the new vinyl, save for added vocal prowess and a more delicious thump-a-thump sound from the rhythm section of bassist Paul Slivka and drummer Jim Hannum. "Love's on Fire" was a great choice but "Do You Still Believe in Me" is conspicuously absent. 

As far as collaborations go --- and Rumblers' manager Steve Mountain said to expect them --- the album's weakest cut, oddly enough, is "Half a Heart," the collective effort from Conwell, Chertoff, and the Hooters Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian. It's just too obviously geared for the commercial Top 40. 

What should be on the radio soon is "If We Never Meet Again," a wonderful six-string dominated tune penned by Shear that finds the band harmonizing well on this hook filled love song. Conwell sounds like he believes the words when he sings "I know how just one smile/Can be planted like a seed/ And I want to do that for somebody else/The way it was done for me."

Shear and Cowell also combined for the bluesy romp, "Tell Me What You Want to Be."

The bass-heavy and keyboards-driven "Gonna Breakdown," co-written with area songwriter Marcy Rauer (who also collaborated on "I'm Not You Man") is the Rumblers' fine idea of a gospel stomp.

Over wailing guitar, Conwell imparts his spirituality:

Sing it strong and sing it loud
I believe I'm glory bound
Broken wings take up and fly
Kiss the ground and touch the sky 

The surprise gem of the album is the first track on Side Two, which finds the Rumblers getting down and groovy on a tune ground-worked by funk songwriter/producer Kae Williams. Conwell cites Sly Stone as an influence on this song, but the gritty shuka-shuka guitars and mean vocals recall the best of the Stax-Volt hits of the Sixties. There's more than a liberal dose of Steve Cropper-like guitar licks sprinkled throughout the tune that could easily be a product of the Muscle Shoals studio. 

For someone who's followed Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers progression over the years, it's impossible not to feel a dose of hometown pride about the band's national breakout. There's a temptation to gloss over the less-than-brilliant moments on Rumble, but Conwell and his music is nothing if not honest --- and that's why the band will progress far beyond this promising start.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tommy Conwell - Tribute to Robert Hazard

On this day in 2008, Philadelphia musician and songwriter Robert Hazard died. [August 21, 1948 – August 5, 2008]

Here's video of Tommy Conwell paying tribute to him that same year at Tacony with a song they co-wrote, "Love's on Fire.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Concert Review 1987 (Allentown, PA) - Tommy Conwell Does It His Way

The Morning Call, Saturday, March 7, 1987 

Tommy Conwell Does It His Way
by Paul Willistein 

Tommy Conwell has arrived. You could tell the minute you stepped into the Green Pine Inn, Allentown, where the mood was more that of an arena rock concert rather than a club on a Thursday night. Conwell and the Young Rumblers, performing songs from their album, “Walking On the Water,” didn’t disappoint, presenting one of the best shows – club or concert – in the Lehigh Valley in years. 

For those not familiar with Philadelphia’s latest favorite, Conwell, whose single “I’m Not Your Man” is getting airplay, he could be compared to several rockers. With short-cropped blond hair and a muscular frame, Conwell resembles a nice-guy Billy Idol (if that’s possible). He wrings licks from his Gibson hollow-body like guitarist George Thorogood. Vocally, there are inflections of Graham Parker, Joe Jackson, Bryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen, and (I thought) Steve Miller. So, wasn’t I surprised when he sang Miller’s “Space Cowboy.” 

Conwell, however, has his own style. His material and presentation has matured from the rockabilly of his previous band. His first set was very pop-oriented, while the second was nearly all rhythm and blues. By the time Conwell walked the bar while playing his guitar – without spilling a drink, it might be pointed out – it seemed like the most natural thing to do. He writes very likeable songs and puts on a terrific, old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll show. 

Here is that night's setlist: