High praise from music legend: ZZ Top guitarist praises local band Otis

Glasgow, KY  — “The Otis disc is stunning. Fine singing, authentically talented harp work, sweet guitar tones … all around enjoyable listening. Done burned it to the hard drive.”

That was the message Steve Jewell Jr., guitarist for local band, Otis, shared on his Facebook page on April 26. The message was from iconic ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons.

Billy Gibbons, guitarist for ZZ Top, holds a copy of local band, Otis’s tribute album to the blues musician John Brim.

Gibbons was referring to Otis’ “Tough Times: A tribute to John Brim” CD, which was released in July 2014.

Gibbons sent the message to Jewell a while back. He came to know Jewell through their mutual friend, Greg Martin, guitarist for the Kentucky Headhunters.

Otis, the Kentucky Headhunters and Black Stone Cherry all played a concert with ZZ Top in Bowling Green during the Lost River Music Fest in 2015.

Whether or not Otis will do another concert with ZZ Top is yet to be seen.

“It is possible we could open for them in the future, but we don’t have anything in the works right now for any shows with them,” Jewell said. “Billy Gibbons is a supporter of Otis and his team is aware of who we are. It’s one of those things you never know until the opportunity presents itself.”

Martin has known Gibbons for quite some time.

“I have been friends with Billy Gibbons since around 1991. We were all fans of ZZ Top and Billy Gibbons plays the guitar and has been one of my heroes,” Martin said.

Gibbons has even been known to give out copies of the Kentucky Headhunters’ debut album, “Pickin’ On Nashville,” to his friends.

“He’s been a fan of the Headhunters. We were always going back and forth about guitar related stuff,” Martin said.

Martin came up with the idea for Otis’ John Brim tribute album and he, along with Dean Smith and David Barrick, served as producers on the album.

Martin and Jimmy Hall, band leader for country/rock legend Hank Williams Jr., performed on a couple of tracks of the tribute album.

“When it came out, I told Billy about it,” Martin said.

When Martin and Boone Froggett, another guitarist for Otis, attended a memorial service for Brian Farmer, a guitar tech for Government Mule in 2014, Gibbons also happened to be there.

After the memorial service, Martin and Froggett visited Gibbons at his hotel room.

“After we all hung out for a bit, I gave him one of the CDs just out of the blue,” Martin said.

Otis is in the process of recording its second album. The band recently filmed a video for one of the singles for the album at the Barn Lot Theater in Edmonton. A release date for the album has yet to be announced, Jewell said.

To have Gibbons comment on his band’s first album, Jewell said, “It was amazing. Needless to say we are big fans of ZZ Top and it’s kind of hard to put into words in a way. It’s quite an incredible feeling.”

Otis fans can keep up with what the band is doing by checking its social media sites and website as things continue to progress for the album, he said.

Members of the band Otis, from southcentral Kentucky, are shown from left Andrew Gilpin, drummer, John Seeley, bass guitar, Steve Jewell Jr., guitar, and Boone Froggett, lead vocals and guitar.

BY GINA KINSLOW gkinslow@glasgowdailytimes.com
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