Chicago, that veritable university of the blues, has graduated another bluesman; this time from the department of the South Side. Singer-songwriter Johnny Drummer (Thessex Johns) has thrown this sophomore hat into the blues ring in celebration. This effort similar to his Earwig debut, It's So Nice; finds Johnny out there and on time with his South Side soul blues degree. Perhaps with a stronger blues flare and Chicago flavor, Drummer delivers another powerful set of music; penning eleven of thirteen tunes in this can.
Johnny has spent decades honing his vocal chops singing behind the likes of the Aces (Dave Myers, Louis Myers, and Fred Below) and whereever else he could climb astage. He bided time, developing his songwriting, and perfecting his soft and illustrious tenor voice. Drummer and Earwig's relationship with him have brought to light another shining star from the Chi-Town firmament. Earwig's Michael Frank steps up and calls Drummer a "songwriter under a groove"; a prodigious writer we should hear plenty more from!
Johnny has nothing but pros at the side. Allen Batts is here for the piano, Dave Jefferson who is always on Windy City time snares the drumwork, and Felton Crews lays down the unenamoured bass beats. Luther Adams, Chuck Kramer, and Anthony Palmer break up the rhythm and lead guitar action. Liz Mandville Greeson adds her sumptuous vocals to four tracks, Bruce and Michelle Thompson get the background vox on one, and Calvin Tucker puts his congas to one.
Drummer opens with the obstinance of "I'm Gonna Sell My Cadillac, Buy Myself A Mule". The following tough, deep blues melodies like "Anything But Without You", "Born In The Delta", and "I'm Missing You" keep this in the shadow of traditional Chicago blues, but his slant on music finds him using a near reggae beat on "Put Your Suitcase Down". Nonetheless, it translates as a moving little number. Strong R & B elements come across on cuts like "You Got Trouble" so you see that Drummer has many facets to his presentation on this biscuit. Bottom line is: You'll be glad it's on your shelf, if it gets outta yer player!
Earwig Music Company, Inc.; 1818 West Pratt Blvd.; Chicago, IL 60626-3120:
This review is copyright © 2001 by Mark A. Cole, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.