So, what’s in a name? Dave Malone from the Radiators and Tommy Malone from the subdudes first played together in Dust Woofie. But after playing separately in such bands as Road Apple, Little Queenie and the Percolators, the Continental Drifters and more, they play The Egg on Saturday as simply the Malone Brothers, making a fresh restart with a new name.
So, what’s Dust Woofie? “The name came from our maternal grandmother,” said Dave from New Orleans on Monday while waiting for this fifth grandchild to be born. “It’s what she called the dust balls you see around when you haven’t vacuumed in a long while, or, in her case, swept up.”
Dave and Tommy are the two youngest of four Malone brothers from Edgard, La. All but Billy, the oldest, make — or made — music. Dave is two years younger than John and five years older than Tommy. “John and I started playing in the early 1960s folk singer craze,” Dave recalled. When Tommy started playing guitar, John switched to bass, “so we had a whole band. Tommy was way younger than us, but he was watching what was going on.”
When John went to Tulane in New Orleans, Dave was close behind, graduating early from high school. “I couldn’t wait to get out of that small town and hang out in the big city with my big brother,” said Dave. When he and John visited Edgard, they were amazed at Tommy’s progress. “When we came back after six months, he was already playing the crap out of the guitar. He picked up guitar quicker than anybody I ever saw,” Dave said, noting Tommy was playing slide guitar, too.
“When Tommy came to town, he was Dave’s little brother,” said Dave; but Tommy was already finding his own musical direction.
“Maybe I’m just lazy, but he’s learned all these jazz chords and different guitar things,” Dave acknowledged. “What interested me was chords, bashing it out on rhythm, and not too fancy,” he said. “I always liked simplicity, when it’s done right,” he said, praising how Keith Richards has perfected a simple rhythm guitar style. “It’s perfect for the song and it sounds right; it’s not complicated and not hard work to listen to,” said Dave.
Johnny quit playing after his bass was stolen, and he became a scientist at the University of Virginia. Meanwhile, Dave and Tommy moved on into new bands. Dave formed the legendarily durable Radiators when he was still with bassist (and future Radiator) Reggie Scanlon in Spencer Bohren’s country-rock band Road Apple. In January 1978, the two found themselves in a jam session with members of the Rhapsodizers, the other guys who’d make up the Radiators.
“We got together to jam and drink wine and it worked so well and clicked so fast we quit our other bands and formed the Radiators.” Dave said, “It didn’t have that name for a while because we had to go through the agony of naming our band.” The Radiators played for decades with only one personnel change, releasing more than a dozen albums and playing The Egg last year on their farewell tour.
“Ed Volker, the keyboard player and the other singer in the band — he wrote 90 percent of our songs — he just decided he didn’t want to be in a band anymore,” said Dave, without bitterness. “I don’t begrudge anybody, after 33 years [and 4,500 shows],” he said. “There’s no hard feelings; it was just time, but I miss those guys terribly. We were able to make a living doing what we love for all those years, and we had the best fans in the world.”
Meanwhile, Tommy played with Little Queenie and the Percolators and the Continental Drifters, which became the subdudes. When the subdudes went on hiatus from 1997 to 2004, Tommy formed Tiny Town. And since the reunited subdudes went on hiatus last year (like the Radiators, they played The Egg on their farewell tour), Tommy formed Tommy Malone and the Mystik Drone, which became Boulevard Junior.
“That was just an awful name and that band didn’t play more than about three gigs,” Dave recalled. None of those bands lasted, nor did the River Rats featuring Tommy and Dave, who called it “a jam-band, before there even was such a thing.” Tommy was as restless geographically as professionally, moving to Wyoming, Colorado, Mississippi, Austin and Nashville before returning to New Orleans last year.
The Malone Brothers is “like starting all over to make a new name for yourself,” said Dave, adding they wanted to “form a four-piece with that classic lineup for rock bands from the late ’60s on: two guitars, bass and drums.” They wanted to see “How far can you take what Creedence Clearwater Revival did.” Tommy had been playing duet gigs with bassist Ray Ganucheau; they auditioned drummers in New Orleans and found Erik Golson.
“We’re wide open about what we can and cannot do,” said Dave. “It’s a new thing and we’re still figuring it out. We have varied and vast influences and lots of ways to mesh and meld it all into that one thing that is the Malone Brothers,” he explained. They rethink Radiators’ songs, subdudes’ songs and tunes from Tommy’s solo albums, and they’ve written new songs together.
Which Malone sings lead or plays the solo? “Most often the song leads one way or the other as to who sings it,” said Dave. “It works the same way with the guitar parts; it works any kind of way you can imagine.”
The Malone Brothers may be new, or even overdue; but they have a head start. “When siblings sing, there’s chemistry you just can’t verbalize, and you can’t deny its existence,” said Dave. When they sing, they can put a song together almost instantly, “without having to say a thing.”
Summing up the Malone Brothers, Dave said, “The Radiators had hung it up and I guess the subdudes have hung it up. So we were both without bands and now the fates have decreed, ‘Now is the right time,’ and it is.”
The Malone Brothers play Saturday at The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany) at 8 p.m. Tickets are $24. Phone 473-1845 or visit www.theegg.org.
Top hometown troubadours Rosanne Raneri and Bryan Thomas play the Steamer No. 10 (500 Western Ave., Albany) Eclectic Performance Series on Saturday at 8 p.m. Both are extraordinary talents, and neither plays here nearly enough. Tickets are $13 in advance, $15 at the door. Phone 438-5503 or visit www.steamer10theatre.org.
Also on Saturday, pianist/composer Marco Benevento visits Red Square (388 Broadway, Albany) in a solo performance, introducing new songs for an album still under construction. Tickets are $13 in advance, $16 on Saturday. Phone 465-0444 or visit www.steamer10theatre.org.