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“It was like playing Bob’s Country Bunker in The Blues Brothers.” Guitarist Ben Jones says his band Soul Plow didn’t get pelted with beer bottles, but playing Mulvaney’s Wagon Wheel in Santee on September 26 was like dropping into a parallel universe.

“We found out they call their own town ‘Klan-tee.’ Even the guy at the 7-Eleven was playing this weird techno-country behind the counter.”

Some of Soul Plow’s five members played in local ’80s and ’90s bands Incognito and Sauce. Their all-original, bluesy, country rock has drawn comparisons to Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers.

“The lady who books Mulvaney’s wondered if we were country enough,” says lead singer Wolf. “But we kept on pushing. Ben [who acts as manager] is a great salesman. We only have two hours of music, but he talked them into paying us $300 to play four hours.”

Jones says the dance floor at Mulvaney’s is as “big as a football field,” and the bartenders were “beautiful like the girls in Coyote Ugly.” But the regulars.…

“There were, like, 80 to 100 hard-core country bumpkins in full-on cowboy shirts and boots,” says Wolf. “The average age of everyone on the dance floor was, like, 50. We tried to take our first few songs and mellow it and sedate it, but after three songs we ran out of songs we could countrify. As soon as [guitarist] Johnny [Ben’s brother] started playing leads, they hated it. Couples started coming up, getting pissed off. They said, ‘We came here to dance.… This is not dance music and we don’t like it.’ They said we sounded like AC/DC, which is ridiculous.”

Mulvaney’s general manager says, “They wouldn’t play the music that people could dance to. They left early. They wouldn’t finish their set.”

“We had an hour left, but I just wanted to get out,” says Wolf. “Within 15 minutes after we started, everyone left and there were, like, two people left.” Nevertheless, Mulvaney’s paid the band in full.

Soul Plow appears at Hennessey’s Tavern in Vista on October 11 and on October 17 at the Surf and Saddle in Solana Beach.

– Ken Leighton

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