a fabulous po’ boy history (sort of)

Po' Boys in BoiseBorn on a snowy night in November of 1991, the Po’ Boys have conspicuously made their way around the country in many forms. Always at the core of the band are Warren Payne on vocals, guitar and bass and Ed Johnson on vocals and guitar. But there have been many Po’ Boys (and some Po’ Ettes) to back them up over the years. All are remembered fondly but don’t ask for their names. They know who they are. Once a Po’ Boy always a Po’ Boy.

The band essentially started out as a dare. While chewing a rubber chicken dinner at a regional advertising convention in Denver, Warren and Ed were just two more ad execs in the room suffering through, what can only be described as, mannequins pretending to be a band. Bad songs, bad hair, bad clothes, no life and an empty dance floor.

While having really only shared a few beers by a pool deck at another ad conference in Nashville just six months before, Warren and Ed at least knew one another were from Seattle and had spent some time earning their lunch money in front of a microphone with a guitar. Warren approached Ed (who was on his third beer, ignoring the show and wondering what the hell Turkey Chop was) and had the following proposition; “Janet (conference organizer and dear friend of the Po’ Boys) says if we want, we can take over for the band when they go on a break. They said it’s okay, and Steve (a media lawyer from Minneapolis) is up for playing drums.”

Ed replied, “Dude, we’re not even a band.”

“Do you know Louie, Louie?” asked Warren.

“Yeah,” said Ed skeptically.

“Twist and Shout?”


“Johnny B. Goode?”


“There you go. Three songs right there. We’ll get up, play, have some laughs and we’re done.”

Janet KennedyOf course, they played for an hour.

The dance floor was packed; the crowd kept yelling out numbers that the intrepid trio happened to know and with everyone properly lubed, the band played on. The band that had been usurped didn’t seem to mind…they were getting paid anyway. Those guys had no soul at all. What kind of musician gives up his stage?

After the “gig” another conference organizer looking to set up entertainment at a national conference scheduled for Portland, Oregon the following spring asked if the boys were available to play the big after-party.

Again, replied Ed, “We’re not even a band.” (Did that stop us before?)

Karen, the national conference organizer, persisted, “We’d pick up the equipment rentals, amps, microphones, PA, staging, lighting. You would just need to show up with guitars and do what you did here.”

Warren, always the ringleader, had a devilish grin over the idea. Knowing they lived in the same city, he and Ed agreed they could practice at home and send Steve a set list for him to practice on his own. Then they could pick up other musicians along the way, meet up in Portland and hope it didn’t all go to hell in a hula-hoop.

With a resounding “yes,” all agreed to partake. On the way out of the ballroom, Ed grumbled, “we might as well call ourselves the Po’ Boys, because we’re obviously too po’ to bring our own equipment.” The name stuck and a legend was born.

The Po’ Boy world tour ensued over a six year period (again with different backing musicians every time) of special events and the wedding of two friends (who happened to meet at a Po’ Boy gig in Boise, Idaho).

The Po’ Boy world tour included:

  • Anchorage, Alaska (an intimate acoustic gig with 100 people in a hotel suite to warm up for Portland)
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Palm Springs, California
  • Helena, Montana
  • Boise, Idaho (a couple of times)
  • Bend, Oregon
  • San Diego, California

Burned out by the road (and the fact that they also still had real jobs) the boys temporarily retired the band.

In 2002, the Po’ Boys briefly reunited for a wedding serenade of Ed’s bride in a spectacular mansion on Seattle’s Capital Hill.

Reformed as a duo in July of 2004, the Po’ Boys are embarking on the next leg of the journey; private parties, café gigs, bar gigs, and outdoor festivals. They still maintain their day jobs (always a good idea) but they’re living the dream of playing great rock & roll, blues and soul, entertaining the crowd and encouraging their mantra, “the more you drink, the better we sound.”

Once a Po’ Boy, always a Po’ Boy

When we became “fabulous”

For almost 17 years, we were simply The Po’ Boys , but in July 2008 two things happened that made us “fabulous.”

First, we received an email asking if we’d be willing to play at the Holmfirth Cricket Club’s annual pig roast. While we’re always supportive of cricket clubs, we were pretty sure they were looking for a UK version of The Po’ Boys. After Googling “Po’ Boys” we discovered we were not alone in the universe. Besides the obvious food sites, there were numerous bands with the same name.

As savvy marketers, we knew that wasn’t a good thing.

Second, as we pulled up to load in for our Fourth of July party gig, Brennan Kunzelman, clearly a very knowledgeable fan, said “Hey, it’s The Fabulous Po’ Boys!”

“Fabulous,” we thought. “Kind of says it all, doesn’t it.”

So after the gig we bought the URL and declared our independence from the tyranny of the common and became The Fabulous Po’ Boys.