The Stone Coyotes' Barbara Keith remembers when her family band was in perfect sync with the White Stripes. "One of the times we played at the Beachland -- more than a couple times ago, because they were still un-huge -- they were in the ballroom, and we were in the tavern," says the singer-guitarist in a phone interview. "They were doing [Dolly Parton's] 'Jolene' in there, and we were doing 'Jolene' in the tavern, and neither of us knew that the other was doing it. After our set we went in and heard the rest of theirs, and felt a kinship with the idea; we thought, 'Hey, this is great.'"
If classic-rock radio weren't just cynically exploiting the inherent conservatism of its audience, then Cleveland's blue-collar base would surely be saying the same about the Stone Coyotes, a Massachusetts trio whose stripped-down classic rock can be just as eerily, instantly moving as the Detroit duo's stripped-down proto-rock. What's more, their backstory is just as iconoclastic as the White Stripes' red-and-white dress code. Ranging in age from 40 to 65, the trio includes drummer Doug Tibbles, who used to write for such sitcoms as The Munsters and Bewitched, his wife Barbara, who wrote hits for everyone from Tanya Tucker to Barbra Streisand, and bassist John Tibbles, who moved with the family from Los Angeles to woodsy western Massachusetts when his dad and stepmom decided to leave their record and TV deals behind to focus on their "lifework." No wonder the group's latest DIY release, Fire It Up (Red Cat), burns with a purpose that most young bands will never know and most veteran bands refuse to acknowledge. As Keith says, "It has that 'cold breath of death on the back of your neck' kind of quality. For some reason, people think it's fun."