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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fresh blues with Hobie and the Leftovers

By Tony Bonyata /Contributor

Terry Mayer/The Week
Hobie and the Leftovers are (L-R) Scott Huffman, Mike Wild and Hobie.
The blues are no stranger to Walworth County.

From Glenn Davis' former juke joint, The Silver Moon, to bluesman Jody Noa's former Pell Lake blues club, Jody's Blue Room, the Geneva Lakes area is still the place for blues fans to get their ya-yas out.

Add to that the many bars in the area that not only feature blues bands from the Midwest, but that also hold open jams (such as Harry's in downtown Lake Geneva), and you've cooked up a decent blues tradition.

One of the better-known acts in the area is a trio that goes by the name Hobie and The Leftovers.

Not unlike Prince, Sting and Cher, the band's vocalist/guitarist prefers to go simply by Hobie, a name he claims, "My old man apparently started calling me that while I was in the womb. I think it means 'mushroom' in Bohemian."

The incarnation of the band goes back to '97 when Hobie and current bassist Scott Huffman (then on guitar), along with drummer Jeff Holden and bassist Shannon Bogart formed The Ralph Davis Trio.

Hobie jokingly refers to the band as "one of the worst bands in Lake Geneva history" on his Web site.

After a staggering number of personnel changes and limited success in the area, the band eventually mutated into the current line-up of Hobie, Huffman and drummer Mike Wild, a friend of the guys who came courtesy of the Northern Lights Band about seven years ago.

"The three of us were all in a few different line-ups, all with great local talent," the singer explained. "It slowly whittled down to just us.

"We were all that remained after awhile, hence, The Leftovers.

The 'Hobie' was added by Jack, the owner of the Elkhorn Saloon, although he did manage to forget to add 'The Leftovers' to the bill."

"I'm a lucky man," Hobie admitted about his bandmates.

"Mike and Scott are stand-up guys.

"They also happen to be really great musicians.

"I think being friends is important to this band.

"Playing together just kinda seems natural to me.

"We don't really spend any time practicing together so maybe that helps keep it a little interesting, even though we've been playing the same 10 songs for the last five years."

Originally from Illinois, Hobie moved to the Geneva Lakes area when he was in the sixth grade and currently resides, as he jokingly states, "about three million dollars away from the lake." In addition to his music career, Hobie also works with computers for a small local company.

It's not a typical 9-to-5 type of job, which allows for more flexibility for his music and live shows, which his wife, Courtney, occasional joins The Leftovers for as an additional vocalist.

While admittedly not a fan of most popular music these days, "It seems pop, country, R&B, etc. all sounds the same," he stated. The classic blues-rock approach of his and The Leftovers' live shows certainly attests to their many influences from the past.

"I've always loved Hubert Sumlin, Albert King, Freddie King, Buddy Guy, Big Bill Broonzy and on and on."

But in addition to these more traditional blues musicians he was also inspired by the likes of Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis in his youth, as well as the British blues-rock movement spearheaded by the likes of Led Zeppelin and Cream.

"I guess I'm inspired by a lot of different artists," Hobie said. "The Allman Brothers are big with me-Dickey Betts and Duane Allman, and I also love various bluegrass and real country pickers like Ricky Skaggs.

"I suppose I steal a few licks from Johnny Winter, Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn, but I'd really love to get a handle on what Buddy Guy and Albert King are doing ... but I just ain't that blue."

While the band performs regularly at local watering holes such as Hemingway's, Harry's and Bobby Rockets, they rarely get the chance to play beyond the stretches of southeastern Wisconsin.

"We've had some opportunities,"

Hobie said, "but the farther away, the longer the night.

"I probably hold that up more than the others.

"I think I'm getting old and square." But performing so many shows in the general vicinity has also helped them garner a more local fan base who show up for many of their shows.

"Playing out is a privilege!" he revealed about what drives him and his bandmates to keep performing.

"The fact that we can do this where we live-for and with people we like-is unbelievable.

"It's an honor."

"Plus I think all three of us appreciate the opportunity to play with a lot of talented local folks.

"Personally, music has also given me the opportunity to participate in my community through various benefits and things."

The Midwest, and southeast Wisconsin in particular, is no doubt a fertile ground for producing quality musicians, and Hobie rather proudly states, "I'm constantly amazed at the amount of truly talented people we meet playing out, such as Danny Parker, Glenn Davis and Dan Haas, Big in Japan, Insane Logic, Effluvium, Braided Funk, as well as the countless folks who attend Glenn Davis' blues jams-Dick, Mike, Hound Dog, to name a few."

As far as aspirations for the band are concerned, Hobie said they have plans in the works to release their first CD, that should be "coming soon." In addition, he also said the biggest thing is for them to "try to keep it fun and," he said half-jokingly, "to get Mike to sing a song."



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have seen these guys...they are awesome.

April 25, 2008 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not only are they good musicians, but they are "good people". That is very rare now a days!!!!!!

April 25, 2008 6:21 PM  

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