Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Juke Boy Bonner - Sonet Blues Story (Verve, 2006)

Verve's re-issue series of the French label Sonet includes a disc by Texas one-man-band Weldon "Juke Boy" Bonner, a guitarist and singer who accompanied himself on harmonica and percussion as well. Bonner was a tough Houstonite like his predecessor Lightnin' Hopkins, and he fought many health and financial problems in his too-short career. This disc features some driving guitar work and ripe harmonica as well as Bonner's unique tales.

"Tired of the Greyhound Blues" is a an account of his travels as he scrapes to make ends meet as a working musician - he has clearly paid his dues in full as can be seen in other heartsick laments like "Problems All Around" and "Lonesome Ride Back Hone." But Bonner's songs aren't just tales of heartbreak and woe. The strangely titled "Yammin' the Blues" shows him ripping into his guitar and harmonica and "Real Good Woman" finds him extolling the virtues of that certain perfect female. Bonner's career was too short and came at a time when many were turning away from the traditional blues and gig opportunities were becoming scarce. Still this disc shows that he was a formidably talented bluesman and is a fine testament to his talent.

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