Frank Meyer & Highway 61 release 'Stranger' single & video from their debut album

Article Contributed by Wanted Management | Published on Sunday, March 19, 2023

Highway 61 is a Los Angeles-based blues-rock ‘n’ roll band whose debut album was recorded  30 years after the band broke up.  And it only took a worldwide pandemic, a near-fatal bout  with Leukemia, and the death of their mentor to make it happen…

Highway 61 began in the early ‘90s and tore it up on the Southern California club circuit  alongside bands like B.B. Chung King & the Screaming Buddaheads, Marc Ford’s Burning  Tree, and The Havalinas, yet they never managed to get that elusive major label record deal.  “We were young and committed to constantly rehearsing, writing, promoting, and playing  stellar shows,” recalls drummer Knutson. “…but eventually we got burnt out, the scene  changed, and we split up.”

After the band’s breakup, singer/guitarist Frank Meyer went on to form award-winning  punk outfit The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs and play alongside Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Famer James  Williamson (Iggy and the Stooges), rock legends Cherie Currie (The Runaways), Wayne  Kramer (MC5), Sylvain Sylvain (New York Dolls), Eddie Spaghetti (Supersuckers), heavy metal  hero Thor, and many more.  But the blues came a-callin’ once again, and in summer 2022  Meyer reunited with the original Highway 61 members to record a 10-song album  called Driving South to be released in April 2023.

“Thirty years is a long time, and during that time the music we created still resonated in  me,” admits bass player Loeffler.  “While continuing to write and play music, I always  wondered what the others were doing.  We spent an enormous amount of time together,  rehearsing, writing, traveling for shows, and becoming a family.  When Frank called me  about finishing what we started, I didn’t hesitate.”

Despite Highway 61 calling it quits in 1993, the guys stayed friends and occasionally  collaborated, but it took an unfortunate event to reunite the band.  In 2020, as the  pandemic hit, guitar player Medway was diagnosed with Leukemia.  After a year of  

chemotherapy, Medway had a bone marrow transplant, which required more than a year of  recovery and isolation that was followed by a series of complications and setbacks.  

“Frank was great about staying in touch with me during my recovery and encouraging me to  play music even when I didn’t know if I would ever be able to play again,” admits Medway.  “Music truly is the great healer.”  

Inspired by the challenge, Medway started firing off ideas.  Soon he and Meyer had written  several songs, including the Driving South track “Black Magic,” which led to the reunion  with Knutson and Loeffler.  

In summer 2022, the foursome reconvened for the first time in decades at Kitten Robot  Studios in Los Angeles with producer Paul Roessler (The Screamers, 45 Grave, Nina Hagen)  to make Driving South, which mixes doses of The Rolling Stones and Tom Petty with dashes  of The Black Crowes and Stevie Ray Vaughan.  The band ripped through the entire album  over a few weeks, finally tracking fan favorites like “Baby, Where’s You Stay Last Night” and  “Supernatural Monkey Child,” alongside brand new song “Black Magic.”

Driving South also salutes Highway 61 mentor Alan Mirikitani, a.k.a. blues guitar master BB  Chung King, who sadly passed away in 2015. “Walk on Water” and “Breath Away” feature  unreleased solos Mirikitani recorded with the band in 1992.  In an incredibly emotional  reunion, “Walk on Water” also features Mirikitani’s daughter Alana Mirikitani on backing  vocals joining the two artists on an album for the first time.  

“Alan was a huge influence on the band,” says Meyer.  “We played tons of gigs together and  he taught us everything from stage presence to amp settings to lead guitar techniques.  We  are thrilled to be able to bring the sound of his guitar back and reunite him with his  daughter through our music.”

To bring things full circle, former Buddahead and friend of the band Kellie Rucker  contributes smoking blues harp and backing vocals on “Bad Day.”

Since reuniting, Highway 61 has issued several tracks from the vaults on Bandcamp including  Loaded Live, an EP that captures the band live-in-studio circa 1992.  With live dates already  booked, Highway 61 will be playing gigs, making music videos, and doing press throughout  2023 to promote the release of Driving South.