Kenny Howes onstage in Atlanta, GA, 2000.
|Born||10 February 1970|
|Origin||Mulberry, FL, United States|
|Instruments||Guitars (electric, acoustic, classical, bass), piano, combo organ, brass|
|Associated acts||Casper & the Cookies
|Rickenbacker guitars and basses
Through his musical ferocity for The Beatles, he quickly became proficient on these and other instruments. By his teens, Howes was performing regularly with many local garage cover bands in a variety of styles, including punk, new wave, new romantic, Paisley Underground, folk/acoustic, and AOR rock/heavy metal.
1989 – 1996
In 1989, after graduating from Mulberry High School and then Polk Community College, Howes attended Florida State University in Tallahassee, and while there began his recording career, following the breakup of his band The Mustardseeds and after a stint with local faves Zombie Birdhouse.
Overdubbing all voices and instruments (except drums, performed by schoolmate Kelly Shane), Howes released his first collection Nothing Wrong With That first as a DIY cassette EP in 1993 and then (after adding four songs) as a full-length CD in 1995.
After an East Coast US solo tour, he then recorded and released his CD Kenny Howes' Second Album in early 1996, which had favorable reviews and is known not only for the song "Girls With Glasses" ("one of the finest power pop tracks of the '90s," said author/power pop reviewer John Borack), but also for its cover art, which parodies The Beatles' Second Album. In addition to favorable reviews, Kenny Howes' Second Album was ranked #157 on The 200 Greatest Power Pop Albums list in the 2007 book Shake Some Action: The Ultimate Power Pop Guide.
This disc once again featured only Howes and Shane, who had begun performing live as Kenny Howes and the Curious Yellow, along with guitarist Bob Anthony, bassist Ben Pringle (later of Nerf Herder and The Rentals), and Chuck Vaughan on combo organ (later replacing Pringle on bass). The band embarked on an East Coast tour in spring 1996.
1996 – 2002
In 1996, Howes and drummer Kelly Shane relocated to the Atlanta, GA area, and began work on Howes' next CD Back To You Today! (released 1998). The disc's cover art was an unintentional nod to Grand Funk Railroad's "Pointing Finger" logo.
While piecing together a new group, Howes joined the psychedelic pop band Orange Hat (playing the Vox Continental organ), with whom he recorded the CD Pufferfish and continued to perform live until 2002.
In 1998 a lineup stabilized for his new group, Kenny Howes & the Yeah!, comprising Howes, Shane, guitarist Jason NeSmith (of Orange Hat, later of Casper and the Cookies) and bassist Kyle Harris (later of The Diamond Center). The group was a popular draw in both the Atlanta and Athens, GA indie rock scenes.
Also, starting in 1998, Howes also began performing regularly at the annual International Pop Overthrow power pop music festival in Los Angeles. He would typically perform with local L.A. backing musicians, although KH&Y did perform at the festival as a group in 2000, at the El Rey Theatre.
In 2000, Howes signed a licensing/distribution deal with short-lived indie label SecondHeaven.com, who released "The Right Idea," a compilation of remixed songs from Howes' first three CD releases, which were now out of print.
Howes and his band began work on their first group recording in 2000 at Chase Park Transduction studios in Athens, GA, recorded by NeSmith and David Barbe of Sugar. (Some pre-production was done in Hoboken, NJ with producer Don Fleming.) These sessions, which featured a re-working of Kirsty MacColl's "They Don't Know," were released in a small run of CDs on Royal Fuzz Records as Kenny Howes & the Yeah! in late 2001; the album was re-titled Until Dawn and re-released on TallBoy Records in 2002, to greater distribution and acclaim.
TallBoy Records also commissioned KH&Y to contribute to a special 7-inch record containing four artists' renditions of The Move's "Do Ya," which was released in 2002. The group also contributed a recording of Wings' "Venus and Mars/Rock Show" to the Demagogue Records compilation Love in Song: An Atlanta Tribute To Sir Paul McCartney (2000).
KH&Y disbanded in December 2001. Howes performed with a new lineup in the Atlanta area for most of 2002; he then toured the northeast and midwest US with fellow singer/songwriter Robbie Rist in October of that year.
2003 – 2010
Before relocating to Southern California in 2003, Howes began recording his CD Lady Friend in Hoschton, GA, releasing it in 2004. The title track was written by David Crosby and originally recorded by The Byrds in 1967; the CD's cover art featured a Honda Super Cub motorcycle.
While in California, Howes performed as a member of San Diego garage-pop band The Shambles and occasionally with Pat dinizio of The Smithereens, while continuing to play solo and band shows of his own material.
Howes was also a member of The PopDudes, a lighthearted cover band of rotating members who perform annually at the International Pop Overthrow festival in Los Angeles. The group recorded a version of ABBA's first single, "Waterloo," which was included on the 2006 compilation CD International Pop Overthrow (Volume 9).
2010 – present
Howes released a compilation of his early recordings, Holding Up The Sound, in October 2010, and toured to US East Coast for five weeks in support.
He was also a master teacher at Huntington Beach High School's Academy for the Performing Arts, assisting and coaching the Academy's students for their Commercial Recording Arts Department's biannual performances, a role he had begun in 2004 and continued on occasion.
From November 2011 to June 2012, Howes played 12-string bass in Pat DiNizio's "Confessions of a Rock Star" band, performing with the Smithereens frontman six nights a week at The Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Upon the closing of the Las Vegas show, Howes relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, where he performs regularly with his Atlanta-based band, Kenny Howes & the WOW.
Power Pop Prime, Vol. 1- The Not Lame Years, a book chronicling underground Power Pop artists from 1995–97, was published by Not Lame Media in 2012 and featured a chapter interviewing Howes, as well as listing his disc Kenny Howes' Second Album in the book's listing of The Top 100 Indie Power Pop Releases of the '90s.
In late 2011, Howes completed work on a new studio album, Tornadoes Here & Past (released November 2012), which the online blog PowerPopAholic referred to as a "triumphant comeback," and Georgia music magazine Stomp And Stammer called "more ambitious than Howes' previous records...his best of them all." Pat DiNizio and The Church's Marty Willson-Piper appear as special guests.
He also performs occasionally as the fill-in bassist for The Smithereens, including for their performance on the closing night of famed New York City nightclub Kenny's Castaways in October 2012, as well as for their June 2013 dates supporting Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, and for a 2014 performance at Asbury Park, New Jersey's Stone Pony, which was simulcast on Yahoo LiveNation.
- Nothing Wrong With That • AAJ Records, 1995 (CD)
- Kenny Howes' Second Album • AAJ Records, 1996 (CD)
- Back To You Today! • AAJ/Shoeleg Records, 1998 (CD)
- Kenny Howes & the Yeah! • Royal Fuzz Records, 2001 (CD)
- Until Dawn [re-release of Kenny Howes & the Yeah!] • TallBoy Records, 2002 (CD)
- Lady Friend • YEAH! Records, 2004 (CD)
- Tornadoes Here & Past • YEAH! Records, 2012 (vinyl LP / download)
- The Right Idea • Second Heaven Records, 2000 (CD)
- Holding Up The Sound • YEAH! Records, 2010 (CD)
- Nothing Wrong With That • DIY release, 1993 (cassette)
- In Between • DIY release, 1994 (cassette)
- Somebody / Greatest Thing Around • AAJ Records, 1994 (7-inch)
Various Artist Compilation Appearances
- The World's Best Powerpop Compilation...Really • Not Lame Recordings, 1998 • "Easy on the Eye" (CD)
- Pop Till You Drop • S'more Records, 1999 • "Girls With Glasses" (CD)
- Love in Song: An Atlanta Tribute to Sir Paul McCartney • Demagogue Records, 2000 • "Venus & Mars / Rock Show" (CD)
- Do Ya? • Tallboy Records, 2002 • "Do Ya" (7-inch)
- Bands Best Friend • 2003 • "The Truth Is" (CD)
- International Pop Overthrow (Volume 9) • Not Lame Recordings, 2006 • "Waterloo" with The PopDudes (CD)
- All Music Guide listing for Kenny Howes
- MyStrands artist overview.
- Borack, John. Shake Some Action: The Ultimate Power Pop Guide. Not Lame Recording Company. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-9797714-0-8.
- OC Register 'Local Music' article from 2008
- Parody of Beatles' Second Album
- KH2A Review from babysue.com, Sept. 1997
- Review of Back To You Today! From Florida indie zine Ink 19
- Rock Athens article on KH&Y from 2000.
- Ink 19 review of KH&Y show from 1999
- Review of The Right Idea
- Preview of Until Dawn tracks & band bio
- A brief but cool review of Until Dawn
- ReverbNation page for release of Holding Up The Sound
- Review of Tornadoes Here And Past
- Article on the closing night of Kenny's Castaways