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Paul Mann: Matt Armor Brings His Own Brand to SOhO in Santa Barbara

Matt Armor brought his own brand of authentic California country roots rock to the SOhO Restaurant & Music Club in Santa Barbara on Jan. 14.

The former frontman of one of California's premier psychobilly bands, Blazing Haley, brought a group of veteran musicians together to perform songs from his latest solo album, as well as some old classics from the Haley days.

Armor handpicked the opening act, Holdfast Rifle Co., to perform at this very special concert. This Santa Barbara-based band of accomplished musicians is the real deal, performing traditional country rock and bluegrass music so flawlessly that they could easily be mistaken for a band right out of Nashville.

After a well-received set lasting just over and hour, Armor took the stage with his new group of musical friends, including Upright bassist Jeff Roffredo (Aggrolites, Tiger Army) Barney Tower on lead guitar (Nate Latta, Deer Leg Band) and drummer Steve Hoke (Revolution Smile, Bonafide).

Armor sang with the same passion as in his Blazing Haley days, but his new music has taken a more traditional American roots turn, with a more polished sound.

Halfway into their 90-minute set, fans of the more hard-core pyschobilly sound were in for a treat when original Blazing Haley drummer Chris Story showed up to help Armor bring back the classic sound. Story helped the band play two balls-out classics from the Haley catalog.

Switching gears, Armor then invited Becca Sampson, lead singer of openers Holdfast Rifle Co., to sing a duet on some of his new bluegrass drenched cuts. The band ended with a medley of blues, rock and country music all penned by Armor, including a reworked version of the Blazing Haley classic “Vegas.”

If you missed the show and are feeling a bit bummed, not to worry. Starting Jan. 25, Armor and friends will be the resident band every Sunday at Whiskey Richards from 4 to 6 p.m. It will be billed as Americana Sunday's with Matt Armor and Friends.

You can be sure that some of the best musicians in town will be in the audience and may join the band for an impromptu jam.

— L. Paul Mann is a Noozhawk contributing writer. The opinions expressed are his own.

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