Aided with only their acoustic guitars and harmony vocals, Sean Hoots and Andrew “Hellmouth” Gray formed Hoots and Hellmouth in their hometown of West Chester, Pennsylvania. Four years later, along with mandolin player Rob Berliner and upright bassist Tim Celfo, the group started making what it calls “new music for old souls.” And you can’t help but feel that maybe when you watch them -- as I did Thursday night at the Kent Stage -- you're witnessing more of a spiritual revival than a concert.
Besides a taper named Rafael, I was the only one of the 11 people in attendance who had even heard of the band before Thursday night. Yes, I said 11, and yes, the Kent Stage is a 650-seat capacity theater. And it’s too bad, because the 639 people who forgot to show up missed an infectious blend of gospel-fused bluegrass, soul, funk and rock.
Powered by live staples “Home in a Boxcar," "Rattle These Bones," "Want on Nothing" and "Forks and Knives,” the band also played a few new songs, including a sure-fire barn-burner, “Will Not sleep.” Hoots' only percussion came from a stomp board (a flat piece of wood with tambourines taped to it), and they seemed as comfortable with their stringed hammers plugged in as they did unplugged, which was the preferred delivery. Hoots and Hellmouth may have come to the Kent Stage with only two fans in the crowd, but they left with 11. —Jeremy Hills