John Howie, Jr. started off playing drums, but it wasn't long before he switched to guitar and began making some hard-core honky-tonk music, first in the Chapel Hill-based Two Dollar Pistols and now in his current band, The Rosewood Bluff.
The latest album is called "Everything Except Goodbye." It's chock full of heartbreak, pedal steel, upright bass and John's baritone voice.
"The music that's played on radio today that's called country music, the pop country kind of stuff like Blake Shelton and all those guys, is just kind of the farthest thing from anything that I'm interested in," Howie said during his interview. "I'm not adverse to making money from my music...and, I'd be curious to hear what someone like Alan Jackson, or someone like that who has more of a traditional bent, would do with one of the songs I've written."
Howie's latest album with The Rosewood Bluff closes with the song "Blue," a tribute to a good friend who drummed with him for about a decade before his untimely death last year. The record is dedicated to that drummer, Matt Brown.
"It's been remarkably difficult to dealing with Matt's passing," Howie said when asked about recording without his long-time musical colleague. "Matt's passing brought that band together. We had to make a decision: were we going to continue? Matt certainly would want us to continue. He spent 10 years of his life making my music sound better than I could have ever imagined it sounding. In a very real sense, it would have been kind of a disservice to him for me to go: well, that's it, I'm done."
Listen to the audio above for music samples and more conversation from John Howie, Jr. The album "Everything Except Goodbye" was released by CD Baby in March.