“When I’m Not There With You”: Honky-Tonk by John Howie Jr. ’87

  • Inspired
“When I’m Not There With You”: Honky-Tonk by John Howie Jr. ’87
John Howie Jr. ’87

The musician — who rose to fame with alt-country band Two Dollar Pistols — shares a track from his recent solo album as he wraps up new work from John Howie Jr. and the Rosewood Bluff.

“When I’m Not There With You”

At top, Howie performs with members of the Rosewood Bluff. (Photo courtesy of Bob Adamek)

About John Howie Jr. ’87

In 1995, Howie’s band the Two Dollar Pistols emerged out of the alt-country explosion that also gave the world Whiskeytown and the Backsliders. The Pistols spent 12 years traveling around the United States and Europe, making records for the esteemed Yep Roc label with an updated, soulful take on old-school country and honky-tonk sounds. Over the course of seven albums – including a series of duets with Grammy nominee (and one-time Raven) Tift Merritt – Howie and the band developed a sizeable following, packing clubs on the East Coast and being flown to festivals in Europe, while the band’s albums regularly appeared on the Gavin Americana chart. In that time, the Pistols shared the stage with a veritable who’s who of country music legends including Merle Haggard and Billy Joe Shaver and in 2003 were invited to play at Nashville’s Opryland. Two Dollar Pistols songs were featured in movies including “Jeepers Creepers” and TV shows including “Weeds,” “Orange Is the New Black” and “United States of Tara.”

When the Two Dollar Pistols went on an extended hiatus in 2008, Howie set about forming a new group, an expansion on the Pistols’ sound that broadened its musical scope to incorporate other influences that had crept into John’s songwriting, like Southern soul, rhythm and blues and country-rock. That group, John Howie Jr. and the Rosewood Bluff, has released two full-length albums and, like the Pistols, has shared the stage with big names including the legendary George Jones. Both of the Rosewood Bluff's albums, 2011’s “Leavin’ Yesterday” and 2014’s “Everything Except Goodbye,” were met with critical acclaim and received steady airplay on key programs like Sirius/XM’s Outlaw Country. The band’s five-piece lineup (including pedal steel guitar) allows for movement between honky-tonk shuffles, driving country-rock numbers and deep soul ballads, all delivered via Howie’s rich baritone.

Howie spent 2016 and 2017 on the road playing drums for Bloodshot Records/Thirty Tigers artists Sarah Shook and the Disarmers but left the group in late 2017 to continue to work on his own music, both on “Not Tonight,” his 2018 solo album, produced by Southern Culture On The Skids frontman Rick Miller, and with Rosewood Bluff. In 2021, CBS licensed “When I’m Not There With You,” a track from “Not Tonight,” for the TV series “Seal Team.”

John Howie Jr. and the Rosewood Bluff are currently putting the finishing touches on their third LP, “Never Enough,” with a planned 2023 release date. Howie lives in Hillsborough with his partner of five years and his 15-year-old son, Dario.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Clark