Rockin' again

The return of the Cobra-Matics
By CHRIS CONTI  |  November 12, 2008

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Johnny Maguire, aka the Colonel, dropped a line to give the heads-up on his newly reformed rockabilly outfit, the Cobra-Matics. They’ll be performing at the Bay Bash, a gala event hosted by Save the Bay at the Sharpe Building at the Foundry, celebrating the first completed phase of the largest public works project in Rhode Island history, a giant cored-out tunnel designed to finally deter sewage waste from the Bay (see the cover story in the News section). It will be the first show in more than two years for the Cobra Matics — opening for the English Beat, no less — and in the process will mark the debut of new lead singer, one Johnny Carlevale, a rockabilly kingpin in these parts.

“Johnny C. started playing with us at the end of the summer when we decided to try and get the band together after I put out the CD,” Maguire said. “A friend suggested get-ting him, and it seemed like a logical matchup.” Carlevale replaces Diamond Dan White, who sings on Under the Hood, the Cobra-Matics’ long overdue debut (Original Recipe), which was released in May after Maguire had been sitting on the material since the band split in 2006.

“We haven’t played since Dan left the band and [drummer] Snake [Kroger] moved to New York City, so we’ve chosen one helluva first gig back,” the Colonel declared. Original members Kroger and Backwards Bob Mac (bass) are back onboard, and the Colonel is rejuvenated and ready to rock. “I really look forward to playing live again and giving it my all,” he said. “I love being a showman — it’s in my blood to entertain.”

Maguire was a member of the Royal Crowns from ’93-’98, then led the Lucky Diamonds before forming the Cobra-Matics in 2004. Under the Hood also marked the first release on his Original Recipe recording label.

“I just thought it would be easier to do the label thing all on my own and do it my way,” the Colonel said. “I wanted it to be my own little business venture. Right now I am just using it as a way to release my back catalog of previously recorded material from the Cobra-Matics and two albums worth of tunes from the Lucky Diamonds.”

Under the Hood provides plenty of high-octane honky-tonk and rockabilly swing, and veteran Carlevale should have plenty of fun spicing up tracks like “Jailbait” and “Cousin Kimberly,” as well as the local

flavor of “Burrillville Bounce” and “Hi Neighbor, Have a ’Gansett.”

“I just want to get the band up and running again and promote the album,” the Colonel said. He also keeps busy attracting crowds while spinning his way through a collection of classics and 45s at Talk of the Town on Thursday nights,the Everyman on Fridays, and Local 121 on Saturdays. But his focus has once again turned to the Cobra-Matics, who have already booked a New Year’s gig at their local haunt of choice, the Ocean Mist in Matunuck. 

“I think it’s a great time for us to reappear because people have been begging me to start playing again and seemed starved for some new, exciting music in Providence. That’s how it all starts.”

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