December 1st, 2020 marks the release date for the sophomore project, Wanderlust, from Chicago based blues and roots singer, Justin Howl. Blues Blast Magazine called him a “strong singer” whose tunes “will strike a chord with you.” Justin is a one-man-band. He is singer, songwriter, guitarist, and harmonica player. While he acknowledges a debt to the Chicago blues influence, he says, “I’m more drawn to the North Mississippi style because of its hypnotic quality. I think it’s also my way of going back home through the music. I find myself doing something similar with the literature of William Faulkner, who’s also from that region.”
Justin began playing music while he was a grad student at the University of Chicago. “Partly as a way to take a break from my studies, but also because I enjoyed it,” Justin said. “In one of my classes, I met a drummer, and he had a colleague that was a bass player who had a friend that was a guitarist. I was beginning to write songs and sing at open mic nights around town. I decided that maybe we could start recording some of the songs I had written. Eventually, a friend said they had heard that we were putting a band together. I didn’t really think of it that way. We were just recording some my songs,” he said.
In actuality, the band members had never all played together. When recording they had each laid down their parts separately. Nevertheless, they took a gig to play a house party anyway, and it really clicked. For several years they played around town, but after a while, the band members went their separate ways. However, the tracks they recorded became Justin’s first album release, Justin Howl and the Salty Dogs.
Justin graduated in 2016, and with no real prospects of an academic job, he decided to drive to Oxford, Mississippi to attend the annual Faulkner conference. He had not toured with his music outside of Chicago, so it seemed like a good opportunity to book some gigs along the way. “It actually became my first tour. After the first night I realized that I could actually do this for a living,” he said. He’s been touring ever since. Justin now resides in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago where he pursues music full time and is anticipating the release of his second project.