After performing his original songs solo for about nine years, Sparro Twohawks knew it was time to fill out the sound for his rock and soul band, Questionable Joint, with some other players.
Twohawks found Chris "Blaze" Waterbury to play the keys with him about seven years ago, but he didn't find the right drummer and bassist who could really flow with the vibe of the group and understand the sound until about two years ago.
"I've been through about six drummers," says Twohawks. Finally he settled on Evan Sousa Twohawks, his nephew, on bass and Bobby Russo on drums.
"I had played with Evan before in a garage band and he brought me in here," says Russo. "They let me rehash myself and since then I feel like I've grown tenfold as a musician, otherwise I wouldn't be who I am."
The songs, all written by Twohawks, have a soulful sound with lyrics that ring of the blues, with just a dash of funk thrown in.
"It's a great time. This band produces a good sound that everybody can have fun with," says Waterbury.
The four-piece ensemble isn't afraid to improvise as it adds to the basic formation of Twohawks' songs.
"We have a song that is a jam song that we call 'that one song' because people always say, 'play that one song,' " says Twohawks.
Waterbury and Twohawks have taken the two younger members under their wings and have encouraged them both to evolve as musicians.
"I'm trying to get myself to start singing," says Russo. "I don't see myself as a Phil Collins, but someday, with enough practice."
"I've been playing keys for four years — I'm certainly not a pianist by any stretch of the imagination, but I get by," says Waterbury.
The group already has recorded an album in Twohawks' Medford studio and practices there often, developing new songs.
New material has been more of a group effort, with Twohawks collaborating with Waterbury and his nephew most recently.
The first album is available for download on the band's page on www.reverbnation.com and half of the proceeds go to CARE, a mediation organization, according to Twohawks.
"We enjoy what we're doing, but the goal is to get bigger," says Waterbury. "I'm tired of working for a living, I want to play for a living."
The group hopes to play more gigs and eventually embark on a West Coast tour.
"I'd like to see us go as far as we can go," says Twohawks.
For the Tidings Cafe, Questionable Joint performed an original song, "Thinkin' 'Bout the Times," in Twohawks' studio. To see it, go to www.dailytidings.com/tidingscafe.
"I've really got to say that doing this has changed me a lot," says Russo. "I was kind of in a bad way when I first started with these guys. It got me to quit drinking for awhile. I'm glad to say that these guys were the first step on the way for me."
It's clear that Twohawks and Waterbury are mentors and teachers for Russo and Evan, even though when it's showtime, everyone steps up and plays his part.
Twohawks came up with the name of the band after watching a documentary on Prohibition.
"It was talking about the speakeasies and it said, 'Some of the mayors would visit these questionable joints,' and I thought, 'That's it,' " says Twohawks.
Though the word "joint" has a different connotation these days, Twohawks has a response to that.
"So I just started saying at the beginning of shows, 'We're Questionable Joint and we came to smoke you!' "
Questionable Joint will perform at 9 p.m. tonight at Club 66, 1951 Ashland St. The cover is $5.
Reach reporter Mandy Valencia at 541-776-4486 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.