"Here and Now"
Inside Memphis CD ISC 0505
by TR Marshall
Review date: September 1999
1999 KBA Award Winner|
Achievement for Blues on the Internet
Presented by the Blues Foundation
It's 9:07. Through the dimly lit, smoky, crowded club somewhere on the outskirts of Atlanta, muffled bits of conversation can be heard, beer bottles clink, four figures can barely be seen as they take the stage. Suddenly, through this restless anticipation, breaking the din like the shock of bar lights switched on at closing time comes, "Y'all ready fer some BLUES!" And the Junkyardmen have started what will be about 4 hours of Southern fried, hard-edged, party blues. There is no mistake—these four Memphis musicians are all too familiar with the adrenaline that fuels a performance and that can whip up a crowd of fans and those about to become fans. As the title "Keep On Workin" suggests, this is not a collection of studio musicians who got together to see what would happen when the tape was rolling. This is a 300-plus nights a year band, gathering a substantial following playing roadhouses, clubs and concerts as a Budweiser In Concert Series Band. Think Ft. Lauderdale…March…you get the picture.
"Keep On Workin" is the second release by the Junkyardmen for Inside Sounds and coming just a year after their debut. All members share vocal duties and eleven of the twelve cuts are originals. Guitarist Jesse Hoggard demonstrates his familiarity with a variety of blues styles throughout the recording. Though not given to the excessive pyrotechnics of some of his contemporaries, he nonetheless can add a six string sting. Billy Gibson's harp playing shows disciplined control and finesse especially on "Cadillac," a swing type comment on the "correct" automobile. Strong, steady drumming is provided by John Scalici, who authored and sings lead on "Tears," "High and Dry," and "Love Bug," which of all the album's selections was my least favorite and sounds out of place. Kevin Sheahan's subtle bass lines are well suited to this group and during a solo on "Work It On Out" his musicianship is evident. There is an overall sense of enjoyment of playing together that comes through on this recording. Vocally the group is adequate, but none of the "yardmen" has a strong delivery and some of the lines and phrasings seem forced.
I recommend "Keep On Workin" for several reasons, one, it's fun, not complicated and repeated listening only adds to the appreciation of the sincerity of this effort. Also, these yard dogs play well together. They are among a group of journeymen blues bands that deserve support, as they will only continue to get better.
To order: Inside Sounds/Inside Memphis
P.O. Box 171282
Memphis, TN 38187
This review is copyright © 1999 by TR Marshall, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.