It’s a long story, but there was an incident one night with a bobcat in the woods in Lee Vining,” Bobcat Rob Armenti says regarding the origins of his name and referencing a remote town on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada.
Armenti reflects on the reason for his move from the East Coast to California with equally matter-of-fact mysteriousness.
“I wanted to move to the opposite side of the country to see what it was like,” the New Jersey native says. “The people I started playing music with kept me in [Santa Cruz].”
Armenti recorded 2018’s A Different Horse at Sonoma County’s Prairie Sun Recording Studio, a legendary spot where several notables have made albums throughout the years, including Tom Waits, Iggy Pop and Wu Tang Clan.
For Armenti, the storied studio was an ideal place to record A Different Horse, which marks the musician’s first record with a “more electric full band sound.”
“[Prairie Sun] has been on my radar for a long time and I’ve loved everything that’s come out of there,” Armenti says.
The result of Bobcat Rob’s debut with the Nightly Howl is fully realized alt-country with an approach similar to Uncle Tupelo and Old 97’s; it’s loud and rocking with a dose of twang and sentiment tossed into an Americana-rooted salad.
At the heart of A Different Horse, “Don’t Run,” “Holding On” and “Doorstep” enter highly personal territory that Armenti delivers with a depth that channel Springsteen’s guttural howls throughout The River and Nebraska.
“Those songs are based on raw feelings that were coming through me at the time,” Armenti explains. “Not really about anything specific, but based on day-to-day stuff and what I was seeing in the news.”
Then there’s “You Can’t Bring a Snake to a Knife Fight,” a delicious, two-minute barn dance instrumental led by a Hammond B3 organ.
Doing what Armenti does, like most working musicians, is a sacrifice made out of love and self-gratification.
“Being a musician for a long time and grinding it out, while making progress, but having still so far to go,” Armenti says. “It’s taking two steps forward then taking one step back – just holding on, not giving up and keep going.”
Bobcat Rob & The Nightly Howl plan on heading back into the studio to record a bag full of new tunes, sometime within the next month.
BOBCAT ROB ARMENTI 4:30pm Thursday, June 6. Folktale Winery & Vineyards (wine garden), 8940 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel. No cover. 293-7500, folktalewinery.com