As a rock ‘n’ roll musician who has been playing live for more than half my life, I’ve had the privilege to perform on a lot of different stages. These include outdoor music festivals, European arenas and historic ballrooms like The Fillmore and The Warfield. I’ve even played on the sand dunes of Sardinia, mere feet away from the Mediterranean Sea. But I have to admit that my favorite places to play have always been dive bars and pubs. They’re more intimate, you don’t have to sound-check and there are no bouncers telling people where to stand. A
The roots of pub rock stretch back to pubs of the United Kingdom during the early-to-mid 1970s. Back then, the pop scene was overrun by the lavish theatrics of glitter/glam rock as well as the over studied and hyper arranged genre known as progressive/prog rock. Pub rock started as an organic, reactionary backlash to glam and prog. Some music historians say that pub rock helped spark the sound of English punk. The idea was to keep your setup simple – electric guitars plugged into small valve-driven amps and a basic rhythm section was the backline of choice. Microphones were only used for vocals and (sometimes) horns. The music was mostly a back-to-basics style of rock that blended blues, country, soul and early rock ‘n’ roll. Wilko Johnson’s band Dr. Feelgood played a smart, revved-up style of R&B that predated the mod revival by five years. The Stranglers also started out as a pub rock band, as did The 101ers then which featured a young, pre-Clash Joe Strummer. Other pub rock bands like supergroup Rockpile and the seminal Eggs Over Easy flirted with more twangy country rock, while artists like Wreckless Eric and Eddie & The Hot Rods played catchy, power pop informed songs.