Equipment: British heavy rock magazine Kerrang! Los Angeles band Marquis & the Rhythm Howlers once described it as “cigarette-soaked alley music that sounds like dirty prayers to a hissing god”. It’s a fascinating phrase and absolutely right, not least because, in contemporary emo fashion, the contrast of light and dark (“dirty” and “prayers” for example) undeniably works well. These are the Rhythm Howlers everywhere; Beautifully hopeful, gospel-like Americana, blues and folk, passed through a horror movie filter. For these regular live broadcasts, singer Marquis Howell sings a few tunes. Viewers can request songs that Howell may or may not play. It’s all very casual and yet absolutely intriguing.
Musicality : Howell knows his stuff. When a fan asks him to play Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus,” he valiantly throws himself into it before admitting he’d rather learn it properly than just improvise. He can swing between the country styles of Jimmie Rodgers and the jazz material of Cab Calloway, without breaking a sweat. Howell is a gifted guitarist, but his performance is as much if not more a matter of feel than technical ability.
Performance: Howell is visually compelling, despite simply sitting at home. The dim lighting and red curtain behind it provide a nightclub vibe which, combined with the crooning nature of its delivery and gothic themes, adds a surreal, David Lynch-ian feel. On top of all that, Howell wears a white eye mask and skeleton jacket, and sports a messy long hair and signature mustache. The effect is somewhere between the cable TV host of a movie marathon and Mardi Gras. Anyway, everything works spectacularly well.
Abstract: We’ve now been two years into this damn pandemic, and so we’ve seen an awful lot of these kinds of live-streamed performances from home. It’s very hard to make them exciting at this point, but Howell is doing a really good job. It barely moves, but its performance is mesmerizing and the good news is that those screaming hours continue, so we’d definitely advise everyone to check it out and maybe PayPal a few bucks in the virtual tip bucket.
Contact: [email protected]
The Web: rhythm howlers.com
Players: Marquis Howell (guitar, vocals)