A foray into the then-uncharted realms of drum 'n' bass, 1997's Earthling made plenty of longtime fans wonder, "That's David Bowie?" To me, though, the question was, "That's a guitar?" Though Bowie's line of axemen has included such oddballs as Robert Fripp, the growls, whistles and screams conjured by Reeves Gabrels' heavily processed Parker Fly guitar were jaw-dropping and frankly, a bit scary.
Gabrels' tenure with Bowie began some years earlier, with the love-it-or-hate-it industrial band Tin Machine, and lasted up through 1999's Hours, which Gabrels also co-produced. Since 1995, the Staten Island native has released several solo albums -- most recently, Rockonica on the Favored Nations label in 2005 -- in addition to session work and film and video-game soundtracks.
Now based in Nashville, Gabrels is currently touring with bassist Kevin Hornback and drummer Jeff Brown as Reeves Gabrels & His Imaginary Friends, combining his cyborg tendencies with bluesy swagger. Having only three musicians "requires that the listener fill in some blanks and be willing to let go of preconceptions that the studio versions of the songs may have put in their heads," Gabrels said in a recent interview at www.reevz.net. "It's three guys in a van, no pretense, no facade ... just T-shirts and cargo pants. The only way to roll in the '09."
Reeves Gabrels & His Imaginary Friends with A.T.S., The Plat Maps and Adam Sullivan. 9 p.m. Thu., July 23 (doors at 8 p.m.). Howlers Coyote Café, 4509 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. $7. 412-682-0320 or www.howlerscoyotecafe.com