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Horse Cave Trio
If there is one band that knows the meaning of rockabilly, it’s Detroit’s Horse Cave Trio. The lineup of Ron DeVore (vocals & bass guitar), Lou Simon (guitar) and Tony Bizon (drums) has soaked up influences along with bourbon, from the bluegrass of Kentucky to the mean streets of the Motor City. Think Elvis and Johnny Cash over at Sun Records in Memphis, and then add a healthy splash of Chicago blues and Eddie Cochran swing.
The Horse Cave Trio formed late in 2002 with a vision to create roots music with a Detroit edge - a straight ahead, high energy roots rock trio that would perform and record original music and remold classic tunes into something new and exciting. DeVore was looking to form a band that would fan his already blazing rockabilly flames. He found the perfect partner in guitarist Lou Simon, a veteran of the Detroit music scene. Rounding out the Trio is brother-in-arms Tony Bizon on drums, a man who doesn’t so much put the hammer down as create rhythmic havoc with it. Put them together, and the trio creates what it likes to call Hillbilly Rock 'n' Roll, or Red Hot Rockabilly, Hi-Octane Roadhouse Blues, or Outlaw Country Rock 'n' Roll. Take your pick.
The Horse Cave Trio was named for the small town in Kentucky where DeVore's parents are from, though they moved to Ypsilanti, Michigan, in 1945. The group released its first full-length CD, Hot Rods, Choppers & Rock ‘n’ Roll on the Austin Texas indie label Tropic Lightning in 2004. Not a band to rest on their early success, the follow-up came in March 2006 with the release of Curb Service on the Embassy Hotel Records label. The disc features 11 brand new original tunes, including "Hillbilly Rock 'n' Roll", "Groove Daddy", "Rev It Up" and "Castle in the Sky". The music flits between American roots genres, from rockabilly to blues to country to gospel and all places in between. The Horse Cave Trio released the cd single/live EP Honeybee in October of 2007.
The three men have genuine pedigree. DeVore played in the band the Empty Set which released a single with the Stooges’ Ron Asheton on the Sympathy for the Record Industry label in 1992. According to DeVore, “The band went on to do two Asheton produced CD's and a sold out live show on the Sunset Strip, again with Ron, which was recorded and included on the first CD. The band did a follow-up tour of Europe which featured Michael Davis (MC5) and released a third and final cd in 1999.”
Simon, meanwhile, has played in a number of Detroit bands of varying styles, having been ripping it up in the Motor City for many years. Notably, Simon played with Jimmie Bones & the Graverobbers featuring Jimmie Bones, now of Kid Rock’s band.
Since forming, the Horse Cave Trio has performed on bills with artists and groups as prestigious and established as John Mayall, Albert Lee, Jimmie Vaughan, Kentucky Headhunters, the Marshall Tucker Band, George Thorogood, the Blasters… and many more. The band has performed twice at the Kansas City Gear Grinder, twice at the Indy Road Rockets Rumble, the Rockabilly Reunion Weekender in Iowa, Benny's Biker Rally, the Grand Marais Music Festival, the Blues By The Bay festival in Tawas, and festivals local to the Detroit area like Arts, Beats & Eats, River Days, Ann Arbor Top of the Park, Downtown Hoedown, and Winterblast.
“For the Mayall and Vaughan concerts we did our acoustic show which went over huge. We got a standing ovation at the Mayall concert,” says DeVore. “In 2005 the band actually went down to Horse Cave, Kentucky, to perform at their annual Heritage Festival. The really cool part was, about three dozen of our friends and fans made the trip down to join us for this event. That was so incredible.”
It is performances like these that led the band to be nominated for "Outstanding Live Performance" and "Outstanding Country Recording" for the Hart County album by the 2012 Detroit Music Awards. The band’s consistency and vivid passion is also what drove the Metro Times’ Brett Callwood to write, “The rockabilly-infused alt-country is filled with attitude, swagger and a shit load of fun. The cover of Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” is awesome, but the band’s own songs, from the opening “Hart County Outlaw Blues” to the says-it-all “Young, Sweet & Fine” and fabulous. Go get on this horse.”
Rockabilly Magazine, meanwhile, said “That this urgent and unabashed neo-rockabilly essay is individuated with neatly-turned flourishes of hill country sway and old-time gospelizing is but one of two necessary information pieces. The other? These three kick ass!”
Finally, Redneck Matt of Hillbilly Heaven Radio said, “If you're into rockabilly, swing, country, jump-jive, southern rock, rocking blues or garage rock, there's a good chance there's something on "Curb Service" that you can dig. Whatever you call this trio's brand of music, they do it with intensity and skill. Get in, sit down, shut up and hold on!”
It’s only natural that the people-in-the-know are taking notice because Hart County is a spectacular album, and the band is justifiably proud of it. Ten years together and these three guys are still creating some of the most exciting, thrilling and downright impressive music under the “rockabilly” banner.
So what’s next for the Horse Cave Trio? The guys are doing some Detroit-area shows this fall to celebrate the band’s ten-year anniversary. They are then looking at hitting the road in 2013 to play in areas, “that we have never been and return to some cities that we haven’t been to in a while,” says DeVore. “We would also like to get back into Funky D studios with award winning producer Tino Gross to start the follow up to Hart County.”
Now that’s something to look forward to.