By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photo’s by Matt “Rabit” Martinez
Many people can argue that rock ‘n’ roll, especially heavy rock, is in a death rattle and ready to be put out to pasture. It is true, not many hard rock and heavy metal acts are selling out arenas or stadiums, and their album sales are not like they used to be, unless you are Metallica. I say to that, I strongly disagree. Doubters be damned! There are many new groups popping up all over the country and world, looking to give rock a vitamin B shot in its arm. They are cranking up the amps, tuning the guitars, warming up the vocals, and prepping for charismatic performances. A lot of them have come out of my hometown of Orange County. Some of these bands include Avenged Sevenfold, Of Mice & Men, and Velvet Revolver. Well, look out world! One of Orange’s hottest hard rock attractions puts the word “show” in “showmanship.” I am talking about Joyous Wolf. A group that is highly influenced by heavy metal and delta blues, Joyous Wolf is chock full of energy and excitement.
The band officially formed in 2014. Vocalist Nick Reese and drummer Robert Sodaro had known each other since the 6th grade. While they both attended separate high schools, Sodaro would befriend his future bass player, Greg Braccio. Reese, in the meantime, had a chance encounter with guitarist Blake Allard, at a Guitar Center. According to their official story on Facebook, they instantly clicked, while jamming to some tunes, including Creedence Clearwater Revival’s (CCR) “Born on the Bayou.” Reese then reached out to both Allard and Sodaro about starting a group together, with Braccio coming along for the journey. It was during their jam sessions, that it would help shape the course of the destiny, which would eventually give birth to what would become Joyous Wolf.
I have witnessed these guys in action twice, both times in Hollywood. The first time was when they were opener for Greta Van Fleet’s 1st Los Angeles show, at the Viper Room. Technically, they closed out the concert, while still dubbed as an opener. Anyway, I had heard their name before and was wondering about what they are like. When the first chord struck on “Mountain Man,” I was tuned in. Reese has a very passionate voice, which oozes a heavy, bluesy edge that could rival the late great Chris Cornell. His singing is matched only by Allard’s ultra cool guitar riffs. He was on fire, with his licks that heated up the room. Braccio and Sodaro worked their charm with their extravagant beats. Braccio is very groovy on his instrument, while Sodaro is a wrecking crew on the drums. What really caught my attention was when Reese hopped on the dance floor and started to get down, like he was James Brown. It was one of the most unprecedented moves I have seen from a frontman of a hard rock band. He was pure electricity; a spark full of energy.
The next time we saw Joyous Wolf, was at Whisky A-Go Go this past January. It was during one of the Whisky’s Ultimate Jam Nights, when the venue was celebrating the Who. They were the first group to go out, and I believe they had the bigger audience. It is amazing what can happen between 6+ months. Once again, they were razor sharp, and quick on their feet. There was one problem, the house amps were crapping out on Allard, and so he could not get a sound out for a couple of the songs. Fret not fans, for Joyous Wolf pulled it together. While Allard was working on the problem, Braccio and Sodaro stepped up big time, with their parts, and led the charge with Reese. I loved seeing the chemistry they had when facing an obstacle. They tackled it on head first and came out on top. When Allard fixed the problem, he was smoking. If anybody is going to be the next guitar hero, I think Allard fits the mold. Reese would also do his dance moves on the floor. Also, he would actually climb the rafters like a monkey. How this guy produces so much energy and charisma into his performances is beyond me.
Full Joyous Wolf Ultimate Jam Night slideshow below:
The band is now taking off to new heights. They have recently signed a record deal with Roadrunner Records, a label that definitely fits their style. I cannot wait to get a full length record out to share with the world. Not only that, they have joined up with Fozzy on their current tour, and plan a big tour with Blacktop Mojo. They are also booking some big festivals this season, including Wisconsin’s Northern Invasion, Ohio’s Rock on the Range, and Las Vegas’ Las Rageous. We hope to cover Las Rageous, because they will be sharing the bill with the mighty Judas Priest. The world better be ready, because this band is hollowing at the moon, and the Rock Gods are listening. To Joyous Wolf, I salute you. Horns up!!!
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