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The Ghost Wolves: when rock'n'roll goes feral

The Ghost Wolves have three members: one man, one woman, and a wolf-like creature called Winter. Together, they make an unholy noise. We tracked them down.

The Ghost Wolves are rock n' roll turned feral. It's groin thunder stripped down to it's most basic elements, a reverse White Stripes with a one-string guitar and a fistful of dark, rustic magic, a furious bellow of maximum swamp boogie with blood in its teeth and lust in its heart. Formed in 2010 in the snarled hills outside of Austin, Texas, the Ghost Wolves are a two-human one hybrid-wolf wrecking ball of Saturday night fever that's currently swirling through the US like a dust devil and setting its sights on the rest of the world.

Jonny Wolf is the Ghost Wolves' drummer, driver, keeper of the flame. Carley is his bride, the band's shamanistic visionary, and perhaps the only practicing one-string guitar player in operation. You'd think one string would sound thin and reedy. It doesn't. It sounds like your guts unraveling on a rusty pole.

“I only know one other person that's playing one now, and that's some dude in Jamaica,” explains Jonny, from somewhere in the dustbowl of America. “I do know there was a guy in the 1950's who played one, and he called it a 'Unitar'. It wasn't a guitar body, it was a plank of wood with one string and some pick-ups. I can't remember his name, but he played this unitar and he had a couple of 45s. Carley didn't invent it but there's only one or two people who play it and I'm pretty sure she's the only one in the states. She calls it the one string wonder.” Truly it is. That's part of the enduring appeal of the Ghost Wolves, that two people could make such an unholy racket. “It's not because we didn't want to deal with anybody else, we just found that we could do what we want with what we had,” explains Wolf. “We just like the duo thing. It's interesting to have shoulder that much responsibility and to fill up a whole show with just two people. We like it.”

Photo: Dawn Laureen

Of course, even though there's only two of them on stage, the Ghost Wolves might more accurately be called a trio. As the title of their new album, Man Woman Beast suggests, there's a third member of the band, a wolf-hybrid named Winter, who travels with them everywhere. Winter is the grandson (grand-puppy?) of Ice, the original inspiration for the band.

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