Pass This Way, the new Holla Pointe song collection, reminds me a little of the John Spencer Blues Explosion: guitars frying on overdrive that melt away into the larger grip of some concussive, sexy, groove-blues-rock music. Sometime during this past year, the roots electric harmonica-guitar duo of Karl Cabbage and Jimmy Zollo made a decision to let ’er rip clean out of the socket and take their old sound to a new extreme.
“We don’t do traditional blues,” Cabbage says. “You know, there really aren’t any traditional blues songs about subjects like chemtrails or GMOs, all these modern issues.” He laughs. “We wanted to tackle stuff like this.”
The Holla Pointe comes out of an earlier Cabbage/Zollo gig called the Red Lotus Review, a traditional blues cover band that lived and died here in San Diego.
“Jimmy wanted to do originals, blues-based music with a little Americana, a little jazz, country, and rock. All these kinds of sounds, in an original band.”
Cabbage and I talk a bit about the rules that blues-music purists put on the music; he says he’s not all that interested in holding true to it. “But,” he admits, “we’re still trying to find that one crossover song.”
If the Red Lotus Review was a mainstay on the hometown blues circuit, the Holla Pointe is not. Cabbage, 47, lives in La Mesa. “Most of our success has been found outside of San Diego.” He lists towns such as Bakersfield and Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Lake Arrowhead. The band does a lot of three-day-weekend touring. He explains that the Holla Pointe is really just he and Zollo and whatever sidemen are available wherever they land. “We get the best people we can wherever we go.” Even here in town. But don’t expect to see them very often. “We only play in San Diego once every six months.”
8515 Navajo Road, San Carlos
Sunday May 28, Navajo Live, 619-465-1730, 7 p.m., 21+, no cover