Johnny V's Blues Allstars
"If My Daddy Could See Me Now" CD Review
Festival Records - BYT71391, 14 tracks, 53 minutes
by Ann Wickstrom

Until I was given this CD to review, I had never heard of Johnny V. Boy am I embarrassed. "If My Daddy Could See Me Now" quickly opened my ears to the heartfelt music of this wonderful blues cat from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Originally from Toronto, Johnny V-whose real last name is Mills-moved to Calgary in 1979 and got serious about the blues after growing up listening to his father play acoustic blues guitar and harp. Just before he died in 1976, Johnny V's "Daddy" made him promise that he would follow music, something his father could never really do since he was struggling to raise six children.

If his daddy could see him now, indeed. Mills was a member of an acoustic blues group called Triple Threat and now fronts his own electric blues-rock trio. Two years ago he was chosen as the best Canadian guitarist by West Coast Blues Review. In addition, he works as a session man and record producer. The Allstars are a seven-piece band that includes piano, organ, sax and trumpet. "If My Daddy Could See Me Now" is as much a tender and touching release as it is a smokin' affair. Tunes range from swing (Ruth Brown's As Long As I'm Movin') to slide (the original I Ain't Gonna Dust My Broom Again, an interesting take on the Robert Johnson/Elmore James classic). In addition to five other fine originals and one of his dad's, Depression Blues, Mills throws in a couple of horn-punctuated Son Seals songs (Four Full Seasons of Love and Don't Bother Me) as well as one from Magic Sam (You Belong to Me). My favorite, however, is a spare, guitar-bass-drums-only approach to the blues standard Next Time You See Me. From the sly dusting of the brushes on the snare to the haunting echo in Johnny's gu itar, this tune is bad to the bone. Much like Little Junior Parker's version, it couldn't possibly be any slower-or any better.

Johnny V's sound is definitely within the blues realm, yet he doesn't sound entirely like any other blues performers. Vocally, there are shades of Johnny Winter and others whose voices have a lot of miles on them. But for the most part, Johnny V is his own man. Get this CD. It'll warm you up inside!

You can order this CD through:
Festival Distribution Inc.
1351 Grant St.
Vancouver, B.C. CANADA V5L 2X7
Phone: 1-800-633-8282

Mailbox E-mail Ray Stiles at:

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Copyright 1998 by Ray M. Stiles
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