The Willowz LIVE at Bar Pink
By: Myles Crawley
Recently I became aware of a band called The Willowz. I heard them for the first time about two months ago and my ears pricked up right away. Immediately I could tell there was something extremely different about them. So I requested a copy of their newest album Everyone. Lo and behold, the whole album was excellent, and it soon became a favorite in our house, as it still is.
A couple of weeks went by after receiving Everyone. I was contemplating a review for the website, when I found out they were playing at a little venue in San Diego called Bar Pink. I’ve seen a few other acts there and, although the sound and the sightlines suck, it’s always a raw and honest show. So I got back in touch with their PR firm to request passes. A bit later that day I was on Facebook and noticed that an old friend of mine, artist and musician Paul Kostabi, had posted a comment mentioning The Willowz. Intrigued, I read his comment which totally blew my mind. It turns out that Paul’s significant other, Heidi Follin, is the mother of Richie Follin who co-founded The Willowz, and Paul and Heidi have been very involved with steering The Willowz in the right direction. Paul produced the band and Heidi, as the principle of Follin Artist Management, manages them. It’s amazing to me when I run into one of those odd connections, this one in particular. Paul and Heidi could easily take up an article of their own, but that isn’t the one I’m writing at the moment.
I got down to Bar Pink earlier on in the evening and met Richie Follin, who sings, plays rhythm guitar and writes the majority of The Willowz material, along with bass player and co-founder Jessica Reynoza, lead guitarist William McLaren and drummer Loren Humphrey. My recent experience has shown me that the alleyways in San Diego supply a great urban backdrop for video footage. Since the plan was to shoot a couple of acoustic performance pieces with The Willowz, my videographer, Paul Giret, and I went looking for one that worked. We found a great parking lot, with a colorful mural backdrop, just up the street from Bar Pink. Once we were set up, we brought the band over and cut two songs. First was “Everyone”, the title track for their new album, and second was a song called “I Know”. Richie, as you will see, attacks his songs with a sense of confidence that is unwavering. The film director Michel Gondry has become an avid fan of The Willowz. He highlighted one of their songs in his film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and directed a quirky music video to their song “I Wonder”. Here it is…
Back at the club, I sat through a couple of agonizing hours of opening bands before The Willowz finally hit the stage. The place was pretty packed by that time, but I could tell that a lot of the crowd had little or no idea who The Willowz were. It was kind of funny to watch because the band played about three songs, while the audience tried to process and put into place exactly how they felt about the music. As soon as the songs ended Richie would go “Thanks a lot. We appreciate you”. This was coming before anyone had even clapped, and at first the audience was looking at each other trying to figure it out. At some point into the fourth song it collectively dawned on the entire bunch that these guys – and girl – were really fucking good. From that point on it was hilarious. People were dancing and lighting their Bic lighters. They packed in tighter and tighter, until it was one huge throbbing mob. The band completely fed off the crowd’s new frenzied position and gave back the same level of intensity.
I could say without any doubt that this Bar Pink crowd was completely taken by The Willowz. It’s no wonder. Their album is great. Their live show is great. The ingredients are all there. I expect that we’ll hear a lot more about this band over the next year or two. Go and see them if they play anywhere near you. And buy the album. It’s well worth the money. But for right now, watch these videos. I think you’ll enjoy them.
Produced by Myles Crawley. Shot and edited by Paul Giret.