Old Haw Creek is an acoustic band based in Flagler County. They play everything from classic rock to island music to southern rock and country. Lead singer Zach Mahaney sings vocals and plays guitar, singing cover songs from Johnny Cash to Bob Marley and beyond.
Johnny Newman plays rhythm and lead guitar, making popular songs sound like the original versions. Go ahead, request your favorite.
John Raffo plays rhythm and lead guitar and serves as the band’s manager and spokesman. His day job is working a Flagler County firefighter. When he’s off-duty, he spends a lot of time learning new songs, which helps explain the variety of music that the band offers. His influences range from Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page to Keller Williams and Doc Watson.
On the drums and singing vocals is John Tremel, with Gil Dubois on bass and vocals. Gil brings some useful recording experience to the group, since he is an experienced producer and sound engineer with his own recording studio.
Where in the world is Old Haw Creek?
Before we assumed that their name labeled them as a country band (although they certainly can play country), we asked about its origin. “Old Haw Creek is the name of the road where Newman lives,” John Raffo explains. “It is where we practice, party, get the families together, and have a good time. There actually is an Old Haw Creek in Flagler County!”
Raffo says the band came together when “Johnny Newman and I had been jamming together for a few years, playing a lot of southern rock, Led Zep, and modern alternative.” Not surprisingly, he says they were influenced by the acoustic sounds of MTV’s “Unplugged” series. We just felt that style was the most enjoyable to play and listen to.”
“Eventually, I found Zach, who liked what Newman and I were playing. I knew immediately after meeting him that we could take it to the next level.”
It wasn’t long before they were looking for a rhythm section. Raffo knew drummer John Tremel from a previous band. Gil stepped in as their bass man and the rest, as they say, is history.
Raffo likes to remind their fans (and probably some skeptics) that many leading bands and musicians like the Black Crowes, Eric Clapton, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, and Bon Jovi have acoustic roots. “The acoustic guitar is more intimate that an electric. It breaks the music down to the roots with no distortion and minimal effects. We try to emulate that sound the best we can, and play to the crowd for the best show possible.”
Old Haw Creek is currently putting a CD together consisting of cover songs and originals. Shirts, stickers, and videos are coming soon.
A Band for Every Party
Raffo admits that their broad range of music gets them into more venues. “We do play a lot of different crowds. We have done the dinner crowd, dance crowd, biker scene, beach scene, private parties and weddings. We do play to the crowd a bit, but we still play many of the same songs to each. Sometimes the biker bars don’t get the Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, or Bob Marley stuff as much, but trust me, they still like a little Sublime and Marley.”
And sometimes while playing at beach places like Chases in New Smyrna they replace country with Jimmy Buffet style trop rock. “Most importantly — we just go and have fun.”
Time for one story? Every band has at least one to tell.
Raffo admits that one time at a Daytona beachside bar two strippers came in with their mothers. “While we were playing, they put on an R-rated show for us and their moms. Our original bassist had to leave the band when his girlfriend found out!”
OHC Around Town
The band plays at several popular spots, like the White Eagle Lounge on their Tuesday Wings and Beer nights, Finns Beachside Pub in Flagler Beach, and Saints n Sinners at Destination Daytona. Bike Week in March is a busy time for the guys, with gigs at McCharacters Music Cafe in Palm Coast, back at Finn’s, then the Palm Coast Family Fun Festival at the Palm Coast Town Center. From April through September, Old Haw Creek will be playing every Friday night at Finn’s upstairs on the deck, and McCharacters will also be bringing them back, so keep an eye on their Web site schedule.
For bookings, contact John Raffo at [email protected] or (904) 226-6848.