Mikey Junior is a self-taught blues musician who learned his craft from an impressive vinyl collection gathered in his youth and thus became a full-time musician before he left high school. Didn't take long before seasoned vets were raising eyebrow after eyebrow, blues societies were scrambling to get him on stage, and a little over a decade saw 7 CDs released to wide acclaim. Now Vizztone has grabbed him for the 8th album in his slo-chug dominated style, a cross between swamp and tempered boogie. The guy plays harp, writes, and sings with a full voice, and while he's oft pointed to as one of the cats taking blues in a new direction, I have to disagree. Traveling South is classic blues, y'all, and if he's doing anything, he's making sure it ain't gonna get too rock 'n rolled out, that people won't forget from whence it came.
Yeah, there's a lot of my favorite style as well, that good ol' Chicago sound, which mixed in generous rock influences, but this here's a Chi-town that knows precisely what's what and serves it up hot, thick, and greasy. Katie Lynn is a great example, a relentless bulldog of a track that moves ever forward with a brontosaurus stomp and hot blood, wailing for a woman straight out of a fever dream, all anticipation and longing. The disc's recording by Dave Gross is engineered to emulate a bar scene: sweaty, smoky, dark, and alive, and thus the band occupies several levels of miking, all designed to sculpt a 3-D sound stage perfectly. Listening to it, you'll reflexively start to order a cool one and eyeball the saucy wench across the room before you realize you're in your own living room and swimming through a dream.
The band's tight and loose simultaneously, guitarist Dean Shot every so often leaving off his chunky chords to wail above the chummy din. "But what", I hear you asking, "is yer favorite cut, bubba?" Well, it's You, which possesses an unbelievable funk and shout atop a smokily driving beat, the sort of bayou pulse that makes you start believing in voodoo and clamoring for gumbo and etouffee with your dirty rice. Then the graveyard spooky She's Good at Being Bad rises from the mist and makes you wonder just what Mikey's talking about when he says 'bad'. I'm not sure myself but as soon as he turns his back and lets me sneak a foot in edgewise, I surely intend on finding out. In the meantime, give this disc a spin, and if you don't hear from me for a spell, check with the houngans, bokors, and loa that you'll probably have to drag out of any bar Mikey's playing in. I'll be with the lass he was going on about, and they, redblooded male bastards that they are, will be turning a blind eye 'n grinning. They may be muckitymucks in their own provinces, but even kings like to get down with the people and catch the good tunes, knowhudamean? All I ask is that you and they keep Mikey occupied until I can do the do and git outta town.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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