Omar & The Howlers: “Hoo Doo Ball”
Kent “Omar” Dykes grew up in McComb, Mississippi, a town that served as the same starting point for Bo Diddley. Like Diddley, Dykes learned guitar at a young age, soaking up blues, R&B, and rock and roll until he was old enough to start his first band. And at the age of 20, Dykes started a group called the Howlers.
In 1976, Omar & The Howlers moved west to Austin where they became regulars at such legendary venues as the Armadillo World Headquarters, the Broken Spoke, and Antone’s. Because of their varied inspirations, the Howlers shared stages with some varied performers, but they soon fell in with Austin’s burgeoning blues scene, performing with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Johnson. Over the years they’ve had some ups and downs–from selling 500,000 copies of their 1987 album Hard Times in the Land of Plenty to various lineup changes. Yet at the heart of it all is Omar Dykes, rocking his Fender Stratocaster.
This year sees the release of Essential Collection, a new retrospective spread over two discs: disc one is their best of, and disc two was hand-picked by Dykes himself. Dykes also appears on a forthcoming album titled Just A Little Bit More from the late harmonica player Gary Primich. Omar & The Howlers recently stopped by KUT’s Studio 1A and recorded a set of their brand of Texas blues. And possibly as a hat tip to a fellow McComb, Mississippi native, the group performed “Hoo Doo Ball,” featuring that classic Bo Diddley rhythm.