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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 24, 2017

West Tone Records artist: Rockin' Johnny Burgin - Neoprene Fedora - New Release review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Neoprene Fedora, from Rockin' Johnny Burgin and it's spectacular! I've had the pleasure to review a few Rockin' Johnny releases and also to see him in person and I gotta say, there aren't too many players out there right now that I'd rather see. (Check here to see my recent interview with RJB). He is inventive, his guitar work is clean and distinctive, his vocals are cool and he's music is a lot of fun.

Opening with the title track, Neoprene Fedora, Burgin hits the strip running with a 50's style blues surfer with great great vibrato, and cool phrasing. The Latin beat and the shimmery guitar soloing is out of sight and Nancy Wright's sax work is hot and heavy. Excellent! Joining Burgin are Kid Andersen on guitar, Bob Welsh on guitar, June Core on drums and Chris Matheos on bass. On Guitar King Burgin swings back into his Chicago roots and I really like his vocals. Aki Kumar is back on harp and we know what he can do. Burgin's guitar soloing sets the groove and together with Kumar on harp and Stephen Dougherty on drums...this track hits hard. On Won't Get Married Again, Burgin blends a Bloomfield like vocal delivery with an off beat gait. Playing harp himself and with an odd scatter guitar style, this is a track to hear. Unusually cool. With a slower lope, Give Me An Hour In Your Garden, Burgin delivers solid, expressive vocals with Albert King like sting on guitar. Vance Ehkers bass work on this track helps to set off Burgin's masterful guitar riffs giving this track a memorable sting. Steve Willis opens Kinda Wild Woman, a R&B track, with accordion flair and Billy Wilson's rubbing board work adds to the natural texture.  On Please Tell Me, Burgin's vocals are solid and his slide playing very slick but catch Wright blowing the roof off on this one (on sax). With real Cajun feel, Burgin and Willis create the environment and Welsh adds a nice piano riff giving the track even more texture. Another cool blues swinger, (Let Me Be) Your Teddy Bear has a cool BB King like feel with Rockin' Johnny at his most relaxed, just letting it flow over Ehler's bass line. Very nice. Ultra funky blues track, Smoke and Mirrors even has wah wah pedal. I's funky. Get ready to dance. Burgin steps into new territory on this one and he's channeling Buddy Guy. With Alabama Mike on backing vocals and Kumar on harp, this track is FUNKY! Alabama Mike takes the mic on I Did the Best I Could and Burgin digs in on guitar with Albert King like attack. This guy can really do it all and continues to show that with every note... I mean this guy has feel...excellent! Another Chicago style blues, Self Made Man, features Kumar on lead vocal and Burgin sits back and just stings the strings. You don't have to listen hard to hear this guy. He sticks it in your ear for you. Buddy Guy has to smile listening to this guy!  On shuffle track, You Gotta Work Fast, Burgin is back up front on vocal. With a great walking bass line from Ehlers and Kumar on harp, Burgin steps high with powerful, solid riffs, which seems to pull his vocals even more into the groove. I Ain't Gonna Be A Working Man No More has super Morganfield feel and Burgin reinforces this on guitar (think Rollin' and Tumblin') and playing is straight and simple, this track just moves. Another funky track, My Life's Enough For Me, has a great bass line compliments of Ehler's and nasty, nasty guitar lead. Burgin's vocals really emphasize his work and I'm glad he continues to develop his own voice. Check how he absolutely slays the guitar solo on this one. that's great! Wrapping the release is slow, Willie Dixon like track, Goodbye Chicago with excellent John Lee Hooker like vocal phrasing and Howlin' Wolf like aesthetic by Burgin. Nancy Wright is so excellent every time I hear her and her playing on this track is no exception. The choice to feature her on this release was brilliant. Burgin pays tribute to all the blues kings as he loosely riffs on guitar with Kumar on harp.  This is really is the path of the contemporary blues. I hope that the young players are listening. This is it! Truly amazing release!

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