Guitarist Rob McNelley tends to kick off most of the cuts but it ain't long before drummer Joe Big Bear Maher slides in with a singing voice highly reminiscent of the old R&B scene in its streetcorner prime. He's shared the stage with Otis Rush, Nappy Brown, Jimmy Witherspoon, and many others, and that Harlem-at-night / Manhattan-at-dawn frame of mind has worked its way down into his soul. McNelley plays with a Lightning Hopkins / Chuck Berry kind of approach while Kevin McKendree and Dennis Taylor lend a lounge atmosphere on organ and sax respectively.
Maher has a way with period composition as well, having written or co-written half the tunes on Big Man. Property Line is classic 60s Baby, Scratch My Back territory, this time with a backyard squabble rather than a romantic tryst front. Bill Campbell first keeps a spunky bass hopping in the background, then lays back into fat golden muted notes on cuts like Someday. From there, the entire band falls together as though fresh from happy hour, tipsily dyin' to get back into the studio and dim evening spotlight. The boys really get the git-down on the classic Confessin' the Blues, the sort of reading you'd hope to hear in any band flanking Booker T & the MGs. Still,it is my diagnosis that JM & the Dynaflows need to write more as an ensemble because Face the Facts is a tart, smart-ass, funky, slow jump number that makes finger-snappin' a must. Thus, the rolling barrel house of the closing cut, What the Hell were You Thinkin'? wraps everything up to boogie in the woogie, a ribald taunt of consternation at a puzzling break-up, the sort of thing the blues were invented for.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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