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Playing around: Omar and the Howlers 

click to enlarge Omar and the Howlers
  • Omar and the Howlers

Of the gazillion blues acts that come to Colorado Springs each year, most grew up in the suburbs but swear it was a rough life; about half spent some time in Texas and were deeply inspired by Stevie Ray Vaughn; and almost all claim to be "steeped in the Delta blues." Steeped they may be, but of late only one traveling bluesman can truly claim to be a product of the actual Delta, and that's Omar Dykes, of Omar and the Howlers.

Dykes was actually born and raised in McComb, Miss., which is also the home of Bo Diddley (and Britney Spears, for that matter). In the late '60s, the small town had its fair share of juke joints and roadhouses where black musicians played regularly. When he was just 13, Dykes began to hang out in the bars, learning the chords and styles of Delta blues. He became proficient with a guitar, and before he knew it, he was touring the Southeast with his first version of The Howlers.

Now a quarter century, a major recording label and the European equivalent of a Grammy Award -- the Edison -- later, Omar and the Howlers are still churning out deep, rough Mississippi blues. While Dykes, drummer Steve Kilmer and bassist Paul Junior have remained firmly rooted in the Delta sound, they have recently begun to explore Texas blues, R&B and swing, as evidenced on their 12th album, Swingland.

Omar and the Howlers will play Castaway's with Rikki Dee Hall and the VooDoo Hawks and The Mike Nelson Group tonight. Tickets are $12.50 to $15. Call 685-3300. They'll also be at Crystal Canyon in Cripple Creek on Saturday night; call 689-9633.

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