1998: Filter Kings

Lou, Gary, David, Chet, Woody, Hank

The Filter Kings: a high energy southern blues band reminiscent of the Allman Brothers complete with dual guitars, a screaming Hammond organ, and a great rhythm section centered around talented dual percussionists and a cascading bass. So who were The Filter Kings?


The group “The Filter Kings” was formed after the breakup of another group called “The Nerve” lead by the creative and talented John Allmet. After the break up the Hank, Woody and Chet were somewhat unsure what to do and I suggested we keep on jammin’. So, we did and the Filter Kings were born.

We played a lot of beach gigs here and there. We were joined from time to time by Gary Allman. Gary Allman bears an uncanny resemblance to his cousin Greg Allman. Not only physically but also in performance. Playing a Leslie Hammond Organ, Gary captured the essence of southern blues.

We also were fortunate to have former Gatemouth Brown guitarist Luther Womble (Blue Lou) sit in from time to time. Luther was (and still is) is one of the south’s great blues guitar players.

Other band members included:

Hank Barbee, then age 22, was the other guitar player for The Filter Kings. A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Hank picked up the guitar at 11. He had spent the past two years playing lead guitar in The Nerve and recording and promoting the Band’s original self-titled CD. Self-taught, he describes his early influences as old blues, bluegrass, rock-n-roll, and jazz–all of which still show in his playing today. The surging rhythm and soaring melody of his playing are a perfect blend for the surging nature of the band.

Drummer John “Woody” Woodward, then 26, comes by his musical talent naturally as both his parents played. He began his musical career with piano lessons before switching to drums at age 11. Woody played with the band On Four for 6 years, and in April 1990, they opened for Meatloaf. Also a member of The Nerve for two years, Woody’s energetic drums bring an intensity to the band that the other members describe as “focused” and “pedal to the metal.”

Chet Miller, then age 26, born in Opelika, Alabama, is the band’s percussionist complimenting the band’s rhythmically focused sound with what he defines as “organic improvisation.” Behind those congas, bongos, and assorted hand percussion lurks a mind that is quick, surprisingly well-read, and sublimely in tune with the groove around him. Chet abandoned a successful career in banking to join The Nerve and live rock and roll, and his playing reflects his pursuit of transcendence.

Here are a few tracks from the Panama City Jazz Fest held at the Martin Theater. We were joined on this gig by the phenomenal saxophonist Craig Duran.

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