Thursday, May 17, 2012

Rockin' Johnny Band - Grim Reaper (Delmark, 2012)

Guitarist and vocalist “Rockin Johnny” Burgin worked his way into an admirable position on the current Chicago blues scene the hard way, making his way from South Carolina to the Windy City, and earning the nickname “Rockin’ Johnny” as a DJ at a college radio station. Rockin’ Johnny began playing in the clubs of Chicago’s West Side with blues singer Taildragger, and then began touring nationally as a sideman with former Howlin’ Wolf drummer Sam Lay and blues piano legend Pinetop Perkins. Rockin’ Johnny has a slow and drawn out way of phrasing his vocals, reminiscent of Charlie Musslewhite and Mose Allison. Supported by Rick Kreher on rhythm guitar, John Sefner on bass, Steve Bass and drums and Big D on harmonica. Rockin’ Johnny’s guitar work is economical and potent, and some of the tracks are framed by horn arrangements. The music is solid and respectable and you can imagine how it must whip up a crowd on a Saturday night. The title track “Grim Reaper” is an interesting one to come out of the gate with, a crossroads like tale of trying to keep death at bay. He plays to his strengths with the working man’s lament “It's Expensive To Be Broke,” then lovelorn “One And One Ain't Two,” and the travelling itinerant musicians plea “Shoe Leather and Tire Rubber.” Grim Reaper - amazon.com

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