Austin, besides being the Texas state capital, is home to much of the best in American roots music. Since the 1970s, gutsy blues players, renegade country pickers, and raw-voiced rockers have mixed & matched their musical styles in Austin s thriving club scene. And that s where Kent 'Omar' Dykes holds court too. He hails from McComb,Miss. , a town with the distinction of being home turf for Bo Didley. Omar started playing guitar at seven, took to hanging out in edge-of-town juke joints at 12, joined his first band at 13 the next youngest player being 50 and started honing his music. He was still Kent Dykes in those days, but by the time he hit 20 he had hooked up with a crazy party band, called the Howlers.Looking back, he says, "We had two saxophone players on baritone and tenor who wore Henry Kissinger masks." Omar was the first artist signed to Provogue records.The Austin native, is regarded by some blues greats as being an inspiration, including Gary Clark Jr. 2013 finds Omar tighter, funkier than ever and slated with a great new release. Be certain to check Omar's calendar - he will be playing somewhere close laying down that beautiful sound we have all come to love and appreciate.
As the title suggests, this release is Omar’s tribute to Chester Arthur Burnett, aka Howlin’ Wolf. It’s no secret that Rock & Roll is derived from the old blues legends. The British Invasion was also based on the English experience with U.S. based blues artists. The Stones, The Animals, Cream, John Mayall, Yardbird’s, and Led Zeppelin, are a few examples of groups that started out as blues based bands, and even continued recording and performing some of the classic tunes once they became recognized. Another blues legend, Willie Dixon was responsible for collaboration with many of Wolf’s tunes, as was legendary HW guitarist Hubert Sumlin.
Omar has been compared vocally to many, including Mr. Wolf himself. Omar And The Howlers have been touring since 1978 gaining worldwide recognition in the blues biz. The much-covered material is taken back to the way The Wolf and Willie Dixon intended. Spoonful, best known from The Cream version, has some effective “Smoky” sounding guitar playing. "Smokestack Lightning" is done with a nice traditional treatment, unlike the rousing Yardbird’s version (engraved in my brain) from the 60’s. "Wang Dang Doodle" (what a great song title) has an upbeat shuffle to it, with sax accents where needed. "Tell Me What I’ve Done" is the blues ballad tale of a man questioning a woman (hasn’t changed much over the years). His treatment of "The Red Rooster" (which competes with Red House for the most covered blues jam song) is a well-done slow sobbing pleading guitar ballad. "Back Door Man" is a fun depiction that you feeling like plugging in and jamming with.
Omar has that gruff, but polite blues voice reminiscent of the masters. His guitar work hinges on tastefully weaving the notes in and out of the melody, ala B.B. King. The release is fun and isn’t over mixed or over laden with uneccesary fluff.(~~R.M. Engelman)http://www.omarandthehowlers.com