On The Prowl: Miss Velvet & The Blue Wolf Are Ready To Roar
– Miss Velvet & The Blue Wolf
What do you get when a classically trained singer puts her energy and talents into harnessing the screaming belts of her ’70s idols? A voice that George Clinton calls “the definition of rock ’n’ roll.”
That singer, Miss Velvet, and her band, The Blue Wolf, have joined Clinton on his tours around the world over the past three years and, prior to COVID were gearing up for a headline run that is finally set to stage in the fall.
Miss Velvet & The Blue Wolf’s single “Maniac” is moving alongside the likes of Foo Fighters on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Indicator Most Increased Plays chart and the music video “Feed The Wolf” was used in conjunction with the Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. fight, meaning MVATBW is on the prowl.
The band has put plenty of time into finding a sound –a modern take on old-school funk and rock – and mastering the art of live performance and now has two full length albums complete and a third on the way. But despite all the time they’ve spent in the studio, frontwoman Miss Velvet told Pollstar touring alongside Clinton and P-Funk has been a crucial part of her career.
“We did [more than] 110 shows with George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic: Across the U.S. twice to 45 cities, 6 European cities, 2 Japanese stops and 4 Australian cities, creating excited fans along the way,” Miss Velvet said. “The experience of touring has been absolutely invaluable to my development as an artist.”
Those tours around the world included a wildly successful play at Bluesfest in Australia that had the festival founder Peter Noble texting agent, Universal Attractions Agency’s Nick Szatmari, letting him know what a special act he had on his hands. While the band went into that festival virtually unheard of, by the end of their first day playing they were drawing hundreds, and by the end of their second set they had filled their tent and had become stars at the event.
“What stood out when I first saw Miss Velvet, and what still remains true, is how much of an impact she has on the crowd,” Szatmari told Pollstar. “Everywhere they play they come away with new fans. You can have the best marketing plan in the world, you can have great songs, great production, but for everything to click, that’s one in a million. You can’t manufacture that kind of special talent they represent. It’s been fun to watch them develop their skills on the road.”
The band is a seven-piece featuring a vocalist, bass, guitar, drums, keys, and a horn section. Miss Velvet might be the voice and face of the band, but beyond the surface, it is keyboardist, band manager, songwriter and producer Constance Hauman who is at the heart of the Wolf. Hauman – a classically trained opera singer who got her big break performing with Leonard Bernstein – is the owner of MVATBW’s label Isotopia Records, and she originally met Miss Velvet as an opera protégé.
“So this 17-year-old girl came to work with me, sent by her parents for opera training, and one day while developing her voice, this unbelievable sound came out and I thought ‘I haven’t heard a rock belt like that since Steven Tyler, Robert Plant, Janis Joplin, maybe Grace Slick.’ It was crazy.
“I told a lot of people around her ‘I know what to do with this and it’s not what you thought.’”
Hauman kept her relationship with Miss Velvet alive as the artist initially worked with other labels that tried to get her music to go in a different direction based on her visual aesthetic.
When Miss Velvet was open to working with Hauman on a rock/funk project, Hauman put the band together and the members decided to record the band’s first album at United Sound Studio in Detroit, where Parliament Funkadelic cut so many groundbreaking tracks decades prior.
The band, all of whom were capable producers, ended up having to do a lot of restoration for the studio, which hadn’t seen use in years, but they came away with an album they felt proud of, Bad Get Some.
Hauman reached out to Clinton and made the connection based on their use of the studio, and after Clinton allowed them some time to open for him, he was impressed, and the rest was history.
Their relationship became so strong that Clinton sat as a guest of honor in Vienna when Hauman revisited her role as an opera singer for the Vienna Statsoper. Dr. Funkenstein is also featured in the song and video for “Phat Blunt.”
“I can’t praise Miss Velvet enough, you can hone it, but you can’t just conjure it; that’s something that’s innate in her. That voice is like Janis Joplin meets Steven Tyler, she could play in front of Led Zeppelin and not miss a beat, she got those pipes, and the charisma and the personality,” Szatmari said. “And Constance is as much the driving force, not just musically but in terms of their business and how they’ve navigated their career, you’ve gotta tip your hat to what she’s done.”
At press time the full band roster includes Miss Velvet and Hauman, Nick Carbone on drums, Henry Ott on guitar, James Jones on bass, and TJ Robinson on trombone and congas and JS Williams on trumpet.
Hauman also reached out to Mike Tyson’s team earlier in the year and made the connection for the “Feed The Wolf” music video, which was used in conjunction with Tyson’s recent fight with Roy Jones Jr. They recorded that video at the Church Street Gym in New York City on March 11, two days before the entertainment industry shut down as concerns about coronavirus were ramping up, and much of the band did end up getting COVID-19 from that shoot.
Though Miss Velvet & The Blue Wolf did initially start out as a perennial opener for George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, the band is now signed to UAA and ready to step onto the top of the marquee.
While the specifics of the forthcoming tour need more time to iron out, Szatmari said he anticipates strong sales for the first headline tour in clubs, which, [fingers crossed] should be the first indoor venues to come back at the national level after COVID-19 vaccines have been widely distributed.
For the upcoming album, Hauman said other band members had much more input in the songwriting and process, while she and drummer Nick Carbone will still be the lead producers.
In general, she feels the band has had a lot of time to develop great musical chemistry, on the road and during the shutdown. Jamming and experimentation were big parts of the songwriting process for the third album she said, and she is excited to see how that translates to live shows.
“We play in the moment. I think that’s what fans really appreciate, even if they can’t always articulate it. We aren’t phoning it in. Every time we play together we are so excited to be with each other and just create.
“When James plays a different riff, then I hear it and play something, the drummer hears it and responds, it’s all so exciting. And the audience feels it and has its own response to that. It’s something you can’t get from listening to a great record at home, it creates this sense of being so alive, when new stuff is being created right in front of your ears.”