Country-blues duo Tilt find inspiration for Howlin’ in a Cherokee tale.
  • Country-blues duo Tilt find inspiration for Howlin’ in a Cherokee tale.
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“The band is now essentially myself and singer Jesse Malley...we do the songwriting and band management,” says guitarist Jeff Irwin of outlaw-country-blues-rockers Tilt, whose debut full-length, Howlin’, will drop January 23 at the Belly Up.

According to frontwoman Malley, “Jeff and I had played together a few times, but Tilt was spawned out of a Craigslist ad that I put up looking for ‘a blues-rock guitarist that can shred.’ The rest is history...or, rather, the future.” Based in Pacific Beach, the duo’s backing group has undergone numerous lineup changes. Former members include bassist/guitarist Billy Joe Clements (the Roosters, the Grass Heat), drummer Mike Stone (the Grass Heat, the Drabs), and guitarist Ryan Weiss (Family Wagon).

“Ryan Weiss and Mike Stone played on several songs on the new album,” says Irwin, “and Ryan will be playing with us as a special guest at the Belly Up release show.... The local scene is too small to avoid former members, so it’s good to keep relationships strong, with everyone getting along.”

The drums on Howlin’ were recorded by Ben Moore, who also played B3 organ on three tracks and will guest with the band at the Belly Up. The Solana Beach club has become somewhat of a home base for the group. Last November, the current lineup of Malley, Irwin, John Urban (bass), and Abel Vallejo (drums) filmed a live show for the KPBS TV series Live at the Belly Up, set for broadcast on Friday, January 18.

The new CD’s cover art is a painting by Malley that includes handwritten passages. “The writing on the front is one of our favorite stories,” says Irwin (who also plays dobro and mandolin). “It’s a Native American Cherokee story about the battle between the light and the dark inside us all, depicted by the battle of two wolves. Some of the songs on our album explore the meaning behind this story.”

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