Powerballs Hits Rock Lotto, Keeps In The Pink

Veteran singer/songwriter/guitarist Chris Henry says his new project dubbed Powerballs proves it’s good to avoid rock ’n’ roll inbreeding. “We all wanted to experience something outside our own gene pool,” says Henry, best known for his years in the Screamin’ Yeehaws and Hobo Torch.

Unlike many bands that form based on previous friendships, all four Powerballs were brought together by fate. “Tara Reis [co-owner] of Bar Pink wanted to do something to help business on Thursday,” says Henry. “I guess one of her bartenders was involved with something like this before at the Whistle Stop. Tara started doing Rock Lotto on the last Thursday of each month.

“What you do on Rock Lotto nights is you show up and you put your name and your instrument on a slip of paper. Tara draws out two guitarists, a bassist, and a drummer, and that’s the band. You play on the next Bar Pink Rock Lotto night after only four weeks of practice. It sounded like fun. And I thought I’d only be investing a month. Nobody expected much out of it.”

Henry was paired with drummer Matthew Kerr, the only new bandmate he knew. “He was in Dodecaophonic, like, 25 years ago. They did punk and jazz. He was also in the electronic Maiden Taiwan. I didn’t know the other two guys.”

They were bassist Al Barnes, who moved here from Minnesota last June, and guitarist Ryan Allen, who says he played in a number of local bands, including Sunday Times and Cedar Fire.

“Matthew and I are, like, 15-plus years older than the other guys,” says Henry. “Someone joked our differences made us like Cheap Trick,” he said about the classic rock quartet known for its early lineup that contrasted two nerds with two rock gods.

“At our first practice there was a lot of trepidation and fear because artists aren’t always the easiest to get along with,” Henry admits. “But we lucked out, I guess. We were supposed to show up to our first rehearsal with two songs each. None of us brought a single song, so we all started writing together.”

Henry says the resulting sound skewed toward pop/rock tunes with radio-friendly hooks and three-part harmonies.

“We’ve got 12 songs so far…. It was supposed to be one show in September. But Bar Pink loved us and they said if we stayed together they’d keep giving us shows. We just played our own headlining show there — a Friday at Bar Pink, and it was packed. Now here we are booking into the summer.”

The name Powerballs is inspired by Rock Lotto. But isn’t it already in use?

“We have a completely different logo,” says Henry. “If they want to sue us, we’d enjoy the publicity. We thought about Scratchers but we thought Powerballs was more positive.” Powerballs appears February 24 at the Black Cat.

Jay Allen Sanford 5 p.m., Feb. 7

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