{New Braunfels} Artist Spotlight: Devil’s Hollow

devilshollow_artistspotlightDevil’s Hollow is a dry creek bed in north-western Comal County hanging off the Guadalupe River west of Canyon Lake. A road sign pointing toward Devil’s Hollow fell on front man Justin Murray’s eyes at just the right time one night when he was headed home after a gig and booking another gig over the phone. He went with it, figuring he could come up with something else later. Several years later, Devil’s Hollow Trio (as it was known then) is staffed with six heavy hitters that have varied connecting ties back to previous (and current) other bands, all of which have helped develop Devil’s Hollow into a blues-fueled sound interlaced with hints of funk, latin, jazz and rock. Front man Justin Murray’s vocals and his blues guitar along with bassist Jimmy Hartman’s deep blues roots guide the band’s primary sound, but with the hints of latin from Mike Zeoli’s percussion and Nick Doe’s rockin’ lead guitar riffs, Devil’s Hollow is far from a one trick pony.

Justin Murray started a blues trio in 2007 after several years of receiving positive feedback about his guitar playing. He had remained a strictly recreational musician to this point, having mostly only sat in with a few bands from time to time. He finally decided to take things to that next level by actually gigging with his own band. Keyboardist Matt Cain was the first of the current members to join Devil’s Hollow, he also played with a progressive rock band Spank along with guitarist Nick Doe, in fact Spank still gigs from time to time to this day.

By late 2008 Justin had named the band Devil’s Hollow Trio, eventually dropped the “trio” portion and grew the band to considerable popularity. In December of 2008 Devil’s Hollow opened up for Del Castillo, and since Mike Zeoli (Del Castillo drummer) had his rig set up on stage early, Justin invited him to play along. An instant connection and friendship began, and Mike started playing gigs with Devil’s Hollow any time he wasn’t busy touring with Del Castillo.

Wanting to expand and diversify the band’s sound, Justin brought in Nick Doe at the recommendation of Matt Cain to audition (during a live show) for a shared lead guitarist role. Nick crushed this “audition” and joined the band in April of 2009. Justin is an incredibly accomplished blues guitarist, but Nick fills out the rock and roll side of Devil’s Hollow, which not only gives the band more options on the style of songs they play, but also gave more texture to the blues style they had already developed.

In 2009 Justin began playing side gigs as part of a blues/soul band called Red Rooster Revue with a very young Adam Johnson. They shared guitar leads and featured Adam Johnson on vocals. In early 2010 Jimmy Hartman joined Red Rooster Revue on bass and soon after joined Devil’s Hollow as well. Devil’s Hollow continue to play more and more gigs for another year or so until they reached the crest of that wave and opened a sold out Los Lonely Boys show at Gruene Hall in October 2011. At that point things just stopped. Murray and other band members needed some time to step back and reset, they had grown so quickly as a band and they didn’t really know where to go next, so they didn’t.

After a two year hiatus, Justin booked a Devil’s Hollow gig at the Texas Craft Brewers’ Festival in Austin on September 28, 2013. He brought WJ Robinson on drums, Pat Young on bass, and even brought Adam Johnson along to play shared leads. Due to a huge downpour during the festival, they ended up finishing this show to a very receptive crowd in a packed tent. This firmed up in Justin’s mind that it was time to put Devil’s Hollow back together.

Justin, Nick, Jimmy and Matt came back together, along with Mike when he was available, and in early 2014 they picked up Tom Raines as full-time drummer. Tom had recently moved to San Marcos from Brownsville. He had played a show with Los Bluzanos which features Del Castitllo bassist Albert Besteiro. Albert put in a good word to Justin about Tom and he was hired.

Besides Matt and Nick’s connection in the band Spank and Mike as a full time member of Del Castillo until they went on hiatus in 2014, there is also filmmaker Robert Rodriguez’s band Chingon. Mike Zeoli has played numerous gigs with Chingon, and Jimmy recently started sitting in with them as well. Jimmy has also played with Jeff Strahan, Del Castillo, Bobby Mack, Seth James, Ruben V and Daniel Thomas Phipps.

Look for a funky new single called “Traffic Jam” from Devil’s Hollow soon, and watch for more details on a full-length album they are currently writing and rehearsing so they can hopefully get it into the studio later this year!

[youtube_sc url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VouCZawtyVk”]

Brian Strickland

Brian has turned a lifelong love of listening to and making music into a passion for promoting live music. You can find his blog at http://www.musicofnb.com or on Twitter @musicofnb

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