Sean Lane & The Hellhounds Regroup After Hiatus

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Sean Lane & The Hellhounds. Photo courtesy of Terelle Jerricks

The bands first appearance in several years happened July 17 at Music By The Sea.

After a hiatus, Sean Lane & The Hellhounds performed at Music by the Sea, July 17, as a power trio with Lane on guitar and vocals, Mike Murphy on drums and Ryan Gomez on bass. This was the first time the band had played in several years, even since before the pandemic. 

Lane started The Hellhounds as a Delta blues slide guitarist and vocalist, writing original songs in the style of the old Mississippi masters. Los Angeles based with roots in the South, the Hellhounds are all about blending old tradition with modern innovation to create their own sound, raw, powerful, and distinctive.

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The Hellhounds is a power quartet but on Sunday, it was a power trio because the harmonica player couldn’t make the gig. Lane told Random Lengths that the band hadn’t done a gig in a while because he began having a problem with his ear that turned out to be tinnitus. The band took a hiatus around 2017-2018. Eventually Lane bought professional earplugs that properly filtered noise, which enabled him to do solo gigs at places like Hollywood’s House of Blues, where he appeared regularly, Sassafras Saloon and Idle Hour. Then COVID-19 hit.

Sunday’s MbtS performance was his first in four years. But Lane has been staying busy. He did a lecture called History of the Blues where he did a talk and played music chronologically to show how the blues evolved. He was working on that around the time he started getting tinnitus. He also taught at Marymount College during the last 10 years, before it closed, in the theater department doing set design, lighting and sound. His father started the theater department there in 1974 and Lane grew up helping build sets and even performed in a few plays. 

Lane said he always had a side business going, including guitar and amplifier repair, which came in handy during the pandemic. And it was a break from the hustle that being a musician requires. Soon enough, he missed playing. Performing at Music by the Sea was perfect timing in the perfect setting, outdoors, which he said is the safer thing to do.

In the meantime, he plans on putting out more recordings by the end of the year. The Hellhounds debuted a few new songs the band wrote during the pandemic. Lane said he was excited to give people something fresh to listen to. 

Lane’s influences are Led Zeppelin, Cream, Jimi Hendrix and The Almond Brothers, Robert Johnson and the old time acoustic delta blues players. He’s also gotten into hill country blues, “the rhythmic RL Burnside type of stuff,” he said, calling it a cool genre of blues. Lane said the genre popped up in the early 2000s in the northern part of Mississippi, just below Memphis, where the land is hilly. It was influential among musicians so the music needed its own designation and that’s how it got its name. He said its sound is like the music of John Lee Hooker.

“One chord, very rhythmic and the artists that epitomize it are RL Burnside and T Model Ford, who is really raw … and Junior Kimbro,” Lane said. “There’s whole bands that were influenced by them – like The Black Keys, whose entire style is based on copying hill country blues. It was so influential that people like Buddy Guy were pressured by record companies to record that sound, around 2004.”

These different sounds — Delta blues, hill country and 1960s rock  — have all influenced Lane’s songwriting style over the years. In fact, the last MbtS gig he did was under the moniker, Sean Lane and the Hill Country Blues Experience.

“I’ve gone out of my way to write music in a unique way with more of a Delta blues influence and that’s what sets me apart,” Lane said. 

Details: www.reverbnation.com/thehellhoundsrock

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