The crowded panhandle beach community of Destin, Florida welcomed Dirty Honey and Joyous Wolf Friday night, June 11, 2021 behind Hurricane Lanes in the rear music venue, Club LA. All Music Magazine was with the fans that snaked the length of the building prior to the doors opening at 7:00pm for the 8:00pm show. The mood was that of anticipation and excitement as those in line waited to see what the hype was all about. Dirty Honey was starting to gain some real momentum following their record breaking EP at the beginning of 2020. But then it happened; the world shut down because of Covid-19. Not to let the down time go to waste, the band went into the studio and recorded their self titled debut album, “Dirty Honey”! With new material, the band is out headlining smaller clubs until their tour meets up with The Black Crowes where they will be opening for them on 36 dates of their “Shake Your Money Maker Tour”. The club is general admission with a few tables in the rear. Management was expecting 500 attendees crammed in to this tight space. With the size of the establishment and the excitement of the crowd, it seemed that it was going to be a great evening. Somebody needed to light the spark to ignite this show, and Joyous Wolf fit the bill.
Nick Reese took the stage, and his band mates kicked it into high gear right out of the gate. Not even half way into the first song, Nick removed his jacket. Soon there after he was airborne doing a handspring, something that might have been difficult in a jacket. The energy of Nick Reese was reminiscent of the front men at Punk Rock shows in the 1980’s by his prowess on stage. By the half way point of “Get Myself Right”, the second number, he was tearing off his skin tight shirt and finished the show shirtless.
Joyous Wolf is a Southern California band as is Dirty Honey. Both bands are cut out of the 1970’s era with a highly dynamic lead singer, a lead guitar, a bass player and a drummer. Their sets are blues based rock and roll with little jam band stretches mixed in. Joyous Wolf was also busy during 2020 as they released their EP, “Mother Rebel”. I had the pleasure of seeing this band in 2019 while they were touring as the opener for Deep Purple around the US. My first instinct then was this was the Nick Reese show showcasing his flips, hand springs, and doing the splits. That quickly went away when they performed a cover of Mountain’s hit “Mississippi Queen.” Blake Allard shredded the guitar parts in a way Leslie West would have been proud. By the way, we lost Leslie West in December 2020 to cardiac arrest at the age of 75 years old adding to the list of awful things that happened that year.
This time around I knew to be prepared for the acrobats and to have my camera ready. I was also aware that this was a bonafide up and coming band that will make some noise in the music scene for some time to come. The excitement of their set was the ingredient to getting the crowd going.
Nick Reese – Vocals
Blake Allard – Guitar
Greg Braccio – Bass
Robert Sodaro – Drums
Get Myself Right
In Your Shadow
Talk To Me
By the time Dirty Honey took the stage, the hall was chanting “Dirty Honey, Dirty Honey, Dirty Honey…” The band took the stage with “Gypsy” from their new album. Marc Labelle commanded every eye in the venue in a way you would come to expect from bands like The Rolling Stones with Mick Jagger or Steven Tyler with Aerosmith. He is the prototypical front man with his style, charisma, and of course his unique vocal pitch. The audience just loves him as he manipulates their emotions throughout the show, and he is masterful at it. The set include all of the new material from the new album. The songs “Gypsy’ and “California Dreamin’ “are great tracks. But, “When I’m Gone“, their record breaking #1 hit in 2019 and “Rolling 7s” which they played for a double encore, kept everyone in the house until the very end. This band is the only band in rock history with a Billboard Number #1 hit without being signed to a record label!
Marc introduced each member of the band one at a time in different parts of the show. It sparked their time to showcase their talents, and to the fans pleasure, they solo. Left handed bassist, Justin Smolian, with his eyes shielded by shades and his long flowing curls just looks cool like a rock star should. At the time of his introduction, I was seated in the rear of the venue. I was soon out of my seat and headed into the crowd to get a closer look. Man, that cat can play the bass guitar. Drummer, Corey Coverstone, is a solid drummer, not a lot of flash, but skillful in his trade. His solo was spectacular as the lights above him are synced to the beat. It was an amazing display and not drawn out and boring as some drum solo’s I’ve witnessed in the past. John Notto’s solo was off the hook, and the audience really let him hear it as they cheered wildly. Notto is an exceptional young guitarist that keeps getting better every time I cover the band. With his increasing abilities, he will notch his spot in the future of great guitarists of all time.
I got the opportunity to actually meet the band in person on this stop. I have covered them four times in the past 20 months, and the band’s non pretentious stage presence is actually who they are. These men are authentic and great musicians that have found the right combination for performing and song writing. They have caught lightning in a bottle if you will. I love to cover this band every time I can. They get better with every show, and as they grow their own personnel identity, they are killing the need for reviewers and critic’s to label them as “Dirty Honey is similar to….”, well, Dirty Honey!
Marc Labelle – Vocals
John Notto – Guitar/Vocals
Justin Smolian – Bass
Corey Coverstone – Drums
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Freelance Photographer and Editor/Founder of AllMusicMagazine.com. My love of live music has taken me to incredible experiences with the top bands of all time in stadium shows to the smallest venues with equally inspiring musicians. Using the medium of photography and my publication, these memories will last forever.