Whenever you go to a live show, at a bare minimum, you want to have a good time. While that may come at a rap or a heavy metal concert for some, there are those bands that transcend all tastes and seem to infect everyone with a case of tapping feet and bobbing heads. Honky Tonk Casanovas is one of those rare breeds, and they’re bringing their talents to the stage at JV’s Restaurant this Saturday.
“What a number of friends who’ve come to hear the band have recently said it’s a, quote-unquote, ‘fun song list,’” said Bob Barnes, the band’s lead guitarist as well as one of its vocalists. “Whether anybody’s ever heard of it or not, they don’t care because it just sounds good coming out and you can sort of see it when people start smiling right off the bat when they’re listening to you.”
The original Casanovas of Barnes and bassist and co-vocalist Larry Quade (they’re all vocalists, by the way, because harmonizing is essential to the group’s sound) found each other through their shared work as sales representatives in the auto parts industry back in 2014.
The two kicked around playing their setlist of purely covers in, as Barnes said, “those divey, jive places in southern Maryland where it almost didn’t matter what you played,” until the pair eventually shifted its focus of its work to the immediate Washington, D.C. metro area in 2016.
That’s when drummer Joe Consorti became a mainstay with the group and rounded out its rhythm section. After a short stint with a keyboardist who had to leave because of health issues, Sam Paladino would enter the picture and assume that role permanently.
But the gap between losing their first keyboardist and finding Paladino was when Barnes was intent on getting a female vocalist in the group to really enrich the group’s dynamic. Enter Cherith Yuley, a transplant from a small town in upstate New York, who’s just a bit younger than the group’s nucleus.
“As a testimony that Craig’s List can actually yield good things, we found Cherith,” Barnes said of the 25-year-old who grew up on old school R&B, country, pop and jazz thanks to her dad. “She takes all the stuff that we do just magnificently well. When we did our CD last year, I think her first scratch vocal track could have been the finished vocal track, that’s how well she comes prepared.”
The Casanovas have been making crowds swoon around Falls Church only recently. Their covers of Dwight Yoakam’s “Guitars, Cadillacs,” Johnny Rivers’ “Rockin’ Pneumonia” and The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” (and even the ever-tricky Beach Boys songs) found their way to JV’s stage after Barnes texted owner Lorraine Campbell out of the blue last August.
On a whim, Campbell found a slot during a Sunday afternoon. She was sold on their act after one show, making the band a near-weekly performer on the venue’s calendar. That’s in large part because Barnes has made the group so available during a time when many bands were skittish about playing indoors. Now she’s stayed loyal to the Casanovas even as more performers are starting to cycle back in.
“We love playing there,” Barnes said, who added that Campbell can be generous with their business agreement on nights where turnout is larger than expected. “I take care of the band and Lorraine takes care of me, so we have a really nice relationship.”
The Honky Tonk Casanovas will be performing at JV’s Restaurant on Saturday, June 26 at 4 p.m. For more information, visit jvsrestaurant.com.