Chooglin’. It’s a verb, baby—as in, to choogle. Just check your Creedence American Dictionary, it’s right there: “to ball and have a good time,” an act to “keep on” or continue. Or better yet, check the Minneapolis octet that bears the name. To them, Chooglin’ means the Soul Train getting robbed by the James Gang, Kiss on 78 speed and the MC5 tearing into Blood, Sweat and Tears. All at once. With a bleating horn section and ferocious guitar playing, the band is a boogie-rock juggernaut that has the guts and the skills to deliver greasy, proto-Stax soul with as much power and conviction as their relentless, riff-driven rockers.
Formed in 2005 by guitarists and singers Brian Vanderwerf and Jesse Tomlinson, from Twin City contenders the Midnight Evils, as a rollicking but conventional two-guitars-bass-and-drums lineup, Chooglin’ made their official debut in November 2005, opening up for Reigning Sound and the Detroit Cobras. Their show garnered some early local praise, but the band hit their sonic stride a month later when they were joined by a three trombone and trumpet horn section that had been assembled for a one-off performance of the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street for a local club’s cover band contest. The full Chooglin’ line-up—Vanderwerf and Tomlinson on guitar and vocals, bassist Jeff Johnson (since replaced by Paul Diorio), drummer Shawn Walker, trombonists Harold Longley, Steve Erickson, and Zach Zins, and trumpet player Bob DeBoer—was soon unleashed on an unsuspecting public in a round of now legendary high-octane live shows.