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Barrence Whitfield: Walk On The Wild Side

Barrence Whitfield & The Savages have been bringing their primal energy to audiences since 1983, and there’s no sign of them being tamed any time soon...

It’s 1983, almost midnight in a tiny bar in downtown Baltimore. Barrence Whitfield, the charismatic lead singer of The Savages, stands centre stage, hands gripping the mic tightly, rivulets of sweat running down his face.

His shirt is ripped, his trousers in tatters. As he takes a breath, The Savages, led by former DMZ and Lyres guitarist Peter Greenberg, launch into a frenzied cover of the obscure R&B song Mama Get Your Hammer by the Bobby Peterson Quintet. As Whitfield screams, his shot-to-bits testifying tears up the joint. He starts running up and down the stage, rolling around on the floor, crawling through Greenberg’s legs, jumping off the drum riser. “And then I try to run up the walls,” says Whitfield down the phone today. “I guess I was thinking I’d do some kind of James Brown-styled backflip. Instead I end up putting a hole in the wall. When the show is over, the manager comes up to me, I thought that’s it, we’ve had it, he’s going to tell me we can’t play here any more. But he gives me a pen and asks me to sign the wall by the hole.”


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