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.