The Green Day phenomenon had kids dying their hair green and swaying to the accessible sounds of MTV pop punk. Powerhouse reacted by unleashing a tenacious sonic assault that would forever change the landscape of the Northern California music scene. They brought back the ideals, styles, and musical sensibilities of Old School New York hardcore for a generation of kids that didn't even know who Agnostic Front and Warzone were. Powerhouse, with bands like Second Coming and Redemption 87, were on a mission.
They had faith in hardcore when the rest of the world was recovering from their grunge hangovers with a big bowl of stale three-chord punk. Slowly, the scene grew. More shows became available. More bands began to form. A greater interest was taken in hardcore by the kids of the Bay Area.
Now, hardcore in Northern California is stronger than it has ever been. It has flourished in a way that nobody could have predicted. It's strong, stable, and constantly progressing. And the foundation that this new scene stands proudly upon was built by Powerhouse. The line-up has had some changes over the years, but is now as solid as oak.
Chris Hower, originally from New Jersey, handles the vocal duties. Ernie Cortez, the godfather of OBHC (Oakland Brand Hardcore), provides the thundering bass lines. "Machete" Eddie Medina riffs with rage on the six strings. And Walter Ryan, who had been in the legendary hardcore band Madball, pounds the skins with precision and fury. Powerhouse re-released their debut 7" entitled Pandemonium in the spring of 2000 on CD EP format with two brand new unreleased tracks.
The follow up album after "Pandemonium" was a full length CD LP entitled No Regrets which was released by Blackout Records (home of H20 and Sheer Terror). Now, Powerhouse returns to Resurrection AD Records for their second album, What Lies Ahead. They have also been featured on numerous compilations, serving as ambassadors of California to the worldwide hardcore community. Powerhouse has garnered respect from all corners of the world. They claim fans and friends from such important bands as Agnostic Front, Murphy's Law, Madball, Skarhead, and 25 ta Life.
They have shared the stage with those integral bands and hundreds more. In addition to the music, Powerhouse has become a multi-faceted consortium to the kids of the Bay Area. The band opened their own all-ages club, called the Bombshelter, and even operates their own tattoo shop called Sacred Tattoo. The tattoo shop has become so successful that they have opened up shop in Fresno and Seattle. The term "a force to reckon with" seems to have been coined with Powerhouse in mind.
They will persevere. They will continue to push the scene to it's full potential. Hardcore in Northern California is a machine and Powerhouse is it's engine. (3) Powerhouse was formed with the full intention of being a short-lived studio project.
In 1965 and 1966, American record producer Joe Boyd was in the process of opening a London office for Elektra Records and was looking for some British talent to feature on the first release from the label’s local division, a sampler compilation album. Manfred Mann’s singer Paul Jones suggested putting together an all-star band to mark the occasion. The band starred Eric Clapton (guitar), and featured Paul Jones (harmonica) and Jack Bruce (bass) from Manfred Mann, Steve Winwood (vocals) and Pete York (drums) from the Spencer Davis Group, and Ben Palmer (piano) who had previously played with Clapton. Originally, Ginger Baker was intended to fill the drummer’s position, but he was unavailable at the time. Powerhouse only recorded a few songs in March 1966 (produced by Boyd), three of which were released on the Elektra compilation album What’s Shakin’ (called Good Time Music in the UK) which also featured tracks by The Lovin’ Spoonful, Al Kooper, Tom Rush, and The Butterfield Blues Band. The tracks included were “Crossroads” (R. Johnson), “Steppin’ Out” (M.
Slim) and “I Want to Know” (S. McLeod). There was a fourth song recorded, a “slow blues”, but to this day it remains unreleased. “The slow blues was never issued, so they must have it on tape at Elektra somewhere,” said Clapton in a March 1968 interview, printed in Guitar Player magazine in 1992. “It was pretty good, too.” Due to contractual constraints, Winwood was referred to as Steve Anglo in the original album’s liner notes.
It has also been suggested that the song “I Want to Know” was in fact written by Jones under a pseudonym named for his wife, author Sheila McLeod. The James Bracken composition, “Steppin’ Out”, was incorrectly credited to M. Slim… Memphis Slim, the American bluesman, had made the song a cornerstone of his performances since the 1950s (4) Powerhouse was a psychedelic blues band established by Shinki Chen, initially as the Midnight Express Blues Band and then the Bebes before settling on Powerhouse. Recording only cover versions, they released two singles (Back in the USSR and Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da) and a single album, New Style of Blues (1969), before splitting up.
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