Artist of the day: Johnny Cakes and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypso
Tampa’s Johnny Cakes and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypso have been delivering a healthy dose of fun and great tunes to Tampa Bay since 2006.
Led by growly-voiced vocalist and steel drummer Michael "Ostrich" Middlebrooks, they've had a big summer. They played two, count 'em TWO, shows at Tropical Heatwave this year. And they recently won a contest to have their song Long Island Iced Tea Island featured on the Tijuana Flats home page.
Click here to listen to Johnny Cakes' song Swimming in the Summer. And after the jump, get Gabriel Loewenberg's profile of the band, including how they got that mouthful of a name...
Johnny what now? Tampa’s Johnny Cakes and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypso have been delivering a healthy dose of fun and great tunes to Tampa Bay since 2006. They got their start in Jacksonville a year earlier, existing as a side project for the original members; main bands, but the move to Tampa took the band to front-burner status.
Their sound: Johnny Cakes plays an infectious mix of third-wave ska, punk, rock steady, calypso and just about everything in between. The band self describe themselves as “gutter calypso”, which one can take to mean just about anything. Regardless of what label you try to pin on them, this band wants more than anything to have a good time.
The lineup: Johnny Cakes has had as little as five and at most twelve members. The current nine-person line up is Michael “Ostrich” Middlebrooks, vocals, steel drum; Roy Kielich, guitar; Josh Burke, bass; Mike Polojac, drums; James Griffin, congas, percussion; Ben Datin, trumpet; Ricky Peterika, saxophone; Jon Van Vuren, bass trombone and Drew Smith, trombone. They range in age from 20 to 42. Middlebrooks gave us the lowdown on the band.
The name: There really isn’t an epic story behind the epic name. Mike says he was on vacation on in the Caribbean, and while eating at a restaurant, saw something on the menu called “Johnny Cakes.” He thought that would make a good band name but was too short, so the rest was tacked on the end.
Zombies, dancers and chainsaws: Just about anyone in a band will tell you that having fun comes first and foremost. Johnny Cakes is no exception. In addition to the boundless energy of their songs, the band is sometimes joined onstage by the Johnny Cakes Jellyfish Dancers (you’ll have to see their MySpace page for pictures to fully understand). The high-energy music and interpretive dance only leads to more shenanigans. At one show, during the song Super Black Death Cloud (which is about fighting zombies with chainsaws), to the surprise of the band, the venue and the concert-goers, sax player Peterika pulled out a real chainsaw and starting running around the club.
It’s business time: In order to have as much fun as they do, Johnny Cakes has to be a hard-working band. They recently won a contest to have their song Long Island Iced Tea Island featured on theTijuana Flats Web site. At this year’s Tropical Heatwave, they played twice (at the Cuban Club and New World Brewery) in brutally hot, humid and rainy conditions. To top off a busy year, the band’s first full length CD, Rise Of The Pink Flamingos, will be out in October.
Hear them: With Shady People, The Ambassy and H1N1, 8p.m. Friday at Market on 7th, 1816 Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $7.
-- Gabriel Loewenberg, tbt*