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“The Sound of America's Heartland”
Pink Houses - A Tribute to John Mellencamp
Experience the Songwriting of John Mellencamp's American Dream
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Pink Houses-“Cherry Bomb”
Pink Houses - Rehearsing "Small Town"
From the Press
Posted by The Maine Edge
Written by: Mike Dow
In what promises to be an evening full of hits, Pink Houses will perform the music of John Mellencamp live at Seasons Downunder Club, Main. St. in Bangor, on Saturday, Nov. 30, at 9 p.m.
A four-piece band from southern Maine, Pink Houses formed earlier this year after guitarist and singer Doug Hoyt gave some thought to an idea posed by his wife and some of their friends.
Hoyt has led a number of bands over the last 30 years, and many of them have performed a mix of his original music and some well-chosen cover songs. A committed lifelong fan of British and American rock and roll, Hoyt says The Who will always be his favorite band of all, but that the music of John Mellencamp has always resonated with him.
“Not to take anything away from John Mellencamp, but I was blessed to be born with his vocal characteristics,” Hoyt said. “Nobody sounds like Roger Daltrey when they sing, but many people have told me that I sound a lot like John Mellencamp. I’ve heard that from people for over 20 years.”
To round out the Pink Houses lineup, Hoyt conducted auditions for a bass player, drummer and an additional guitarist, and listened to each musician’s ability to capture the essence of Mellencamp’s songs.
Joining Hoyt in the Pink Houses lineup is drummer and vocalist Jeffrey Brayne of Kittery, bassist and vocalist Ken Lloyd of Portland, and guitarist and vocalist Justin Carver of Auburn.
“I’m very impressed with this band,” Hoyt says. “Each musician was chosen because they understand how to serve the song. They’re all capable of playing more but they only play what is right. Mellencamp’s records have no unnecessary notes, and he tells these beautiful stories.
Some tribute bands try to bring the audience closer to the experience of the original artist by emulating them visually. Hoyt says that’s fine, but he’s only interested in authentically delivering the songs.
“We don’t try to look like Mellencamp or anyone in his band, but we perform his songs with all of the nuances and subtleties from the original records,” Hoyt told me. “He doesn’t have the stage presence of someone like Prince, which makes it easier to get into the sound of his music and make it an event.”
Early Pink Houses performances have drawn a uniformly positive response from audiences, according to Hoyt, who says his favorite reaction came from friend and fellow musician Jim Murphy of the band eightysomething.
“Jim saw Pink Houses a few weeks ago and said ‘It’s like Mellencamp, only with twice the energy,’” Hoyt said, laughing.
Once a Pink Houses show begins, Hoyt says it’s fun for the band to watch the reaction on the faces of the audience when they hear familiar hit after hit, including a few they may have forgotten.
“If you’re into Mellencamp, you like the songs, and he’s had a ton of top 10 hits. Our show has about 24 Mellencamp hits and we have fun with it. We stretch out on some songs and it flows really well. Some people forget how many great songs he has until they hear them all back to back.”
At the height of Mellencamp’s 1980s success, he crafted infectious heartland hits like “Small Town,” “Crumblin’ Down,” “Lonely Ol’ Night,” and “Cherry Bomb.” His 1982 LP “American Fool” was a commercial breakthrough, spending 9 weeks at the top of the Billboard albums chart. The single “Jack and Diane” enjoyed a month at #1 on the American Top 40.
“There’s a nostalgia thing that kicks in when you hear those songs,” said Hoyt. You think about where you were when you first heard them. I think about watching MTV for the first time when “Jack and Diane” came on. His music stood out at that time because he sounded familiar, but he also sounded different than anybody else on MTV, and that’s the music I tended to gravitate toward.”