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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Swingnation Records artist: Mikey Junior - Traveling South - New Release review

I just received the newest release (March 25, 2014), Traveling South, and it's great! Opening with Traveling South, Mikey Junior shows that he's got a great voice for the blues and absolutely great harp chops and tone to match. A stripped down track with emphases on drums by Michael Bram this track has a dark sound and guitarists Dave Gross and Dean Shot and Mikey on harp really make the best of it! Excellent! Nobody Does It Like It Like Me has a nice lumbering pace driven mostly by Matt Raymond on bass. This is old school blues with emphases on vocal and harp... but that is old school...not old! It's really nice! Morning On My Way opens with tom tom beat and guitar riffs. Mikey's vocals are really super and his harp work paired with the sparing use of crisp guitar inserts it mighty fine. Mill Tavern has a great pace with just the right amount of syncopation that gives New Orleans music it's flair but with harp and guitar instead of horns. Jeremy Baum adds really cool piano work on this track and again a laid back guitar solo is nicely executed. This may be the best vocal track on the release. Katie Lynn has just a touch of country rhythm but with a rockin beat. Different rhythm and paces give harp players a different phrasing and this track shows us yet another side of Mikey's diverse palate. Cool track. Bad Time Blues opens with a cool guitar riff with heavy hand vibrato. I like the sound. A more conventional blues track with a cool story line. Mikey again controls the tempo of this track with is vocal phrasing and the band shows just how tight a blues band can be on a low slung track. Mikey shows his chops again on harp and Short rips these great signature guitar riffs placing this bands high on my want to see list. The Cheat opens with squawking harp and rim shots. A blues rock track with a lot of swagger, Mikey again steps up and takes authority with his harp like few players I've seen do today. It isn't flashy, just crisp and direct. Very nice. You opens with an interesting guitar riff and what I'd call a stumbling drum riff. I like it already! I can see Mikey performing this track in my mind. It's a theatrical piece with a lot of sonic animation. Mikey (with Lee Oskar like tone) and Shot trade punches over this stumbling beat...excellent! Possibly my favorite track overall. She's Good At Being Bad, with a vocal melody, tremelo laden guitar chords and percussive drum stiffeners is a cool listener. A different approach to your basic blues number and one that has real merit. Please Come Back is much more down the middle of blues highway with R&B bass line. A definite James Brown return on this track gives it a cool feel and Shot again steps up with a really nice guitar solo followed by Mikey on harp. This track has a really nice riff filled ending with vibrato bends on guitar... excuse my excessive guitar interest but that's who I am! Wrong Number, the first soul ballad on the release is really nicely written and executed with Baum stepping up on B3. Mikey again shows how strong his vocals really are. An easy radio play... really! The last track, Trying To Do the Best I Can, is the surprise of the release with an acoustic country blues feel. With only acoustic guitar, harp, upright bass and what sounds like sand paper (or brushes), the crew does a super job to wind down from an explosive release.

 Love this guys tone! This will definitely be on my yearly review list!

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