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Reviews on Bucks County Blues Talent by Lady K

by GFats on August 22, 2011

Mikey Jr.
It Ain’t Hard to Tell
2010, 8th Train Records

By Lady K

Lady K has a bit of an edge over most of the ‘local’ readers and members of the Boston Blues Society – she actually knows Mikey Jr. and his kick-ass blues band. Mikey Jr. is out of Bucks County, PA., and his band-mates are from surrounding areas and states (NY, NJ, etc.); but their sound is so tight you’d swear they live, eat and breathe the same air, 24/7. In addition to Mikey Junior, who wrote about half of the tunes on this CD, plays harmonica and is lead vocalist, the Chicago-blues sound emanating from this CD can also be attributed to Matt Daniels on lead guitar, Jimmy Pritchard on electric bass, and Adam Stranburg on drums. And in the small-world category: Mikey Jr. and the band represented the Bucks County Blues Society at the International Blues Competition in Memphis earlier this year, AND they were assigned to play in the same group of bands as the BBS’ Erin Harpe and her band!!!

One of my favorite tracks on this CD is It Ain’t Hard to Tell, the title tune, and a hip-swingin’ blues number, bemoaning his love for the wrong woman: “How many days and nights go by? How many times you made me cry? I need that lovin’, DAMN my pride!” And then there is the subtly humorous “The Cheapskate”; a rocking and rolling blues tune, with a sprightly-pace, making fun of a tightfisted, non-tipping dude who prefers Burger King to fancy dining, and turns out to be the singer, himself!!!!

“Chitlin Con Carne”, a cover of Kenny Burrell’s tune – instrumental, with a swampy, kind of Latin Delta, party feel. There are two covers that were probably responsible for the death of several harmonicas, based on Mikey’s blistering-hot blowing: A breakneck-speed version of “Hand Jive” (do not even attempt to remember the correct sequence of “Hand Jive” movements, you won’t be able to keep up with the music anyway). And, Lady K suspects that Mikey Junior’s version of Billy Boy Arnold’s “I Wish You Would” probably set off some smoke alarms in the recording studio. It’s super hot.

“Pocket Full of Money” was written by bass-player Jimmy Pritchard and is a sexy, swingy number, that is fair-warning to his lady that since she’s ‘with her man all day, and only comes to him at night; he’s got a pocket full of money, and ain’t gonna be there for long’. Fair warning!!

“Mikey’s at the Bar” is a quick-tempo instrumental, co-written by Matt Daniels and Mikey, and it gives Matt, Jimmy and Adam each a chance to fly solo and impress the hell out of listeners. “Mikey’s Out Back” was also a collaborative effort between Matt and Mikey, an instrumental, and seriously all about Matt and his guitar prowess.

There’s absolutely nothing to dislike about “It Ain’t Hard to Tell”, and everything in the world to love – and there is much more music than I’ve mentioned here. Mikey Junior and the band give their all on every track. Go find yourself a copy; you won’t be disappointed.

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PS – there’s more from the Bucks County guys:

Matt Daniels
Yo, Matt! Do An Instrumental!
2010, 8th Train Records

By Lady K

With utmost apologies to Matt (with Jimmy Pritchard on electric bass and Adam Stranburg on drums), Lady K can’t talk the technical-talk of musicians, so reviewing an instrumental album is a huge challenge; she will never do it justice . . .

The liner notes for Yo, Matt . . . inform listeners that the album was cut in South Philly, when Mikey Jr. was outside, taking a break. Since 8 of the 12 tracks were written by Matt, I’m thinking it took a little more planning than Mikey taking a break; and the band did let Mikey join them on “Cheeze Wit Out”, so in the end no one was left out!!!

The admirably performed covers are Albert Collins’ “Thaw Out” and “Ice Pick”, and Bill Jennings’ “Big Boy” and “Lonesome Traveler”; no doubt both artists would be proud to hear what Matt and his guitar did with their tunes!!! “Yo Matt”, the track, is a toe-tapping quick-tempo tune; while “Juke Joint Groove” will, no doubt, make listeners wish that there were juke joints on every corner where this music could be heard. “Toadstole Blues” is an easy, bluesy tune and Adam’s constant use of symbols as the background to Matt’s guitar is very intriguing.

There is one track on the album with lyrics: “Textin Blues” has a bit of a Texas twang, and Lady K isn’t sure who is doing the singing (no one is credited on the liner notes). The singer asks “did your man find the texts I’ve been sending to you?” Is ‘she for real, or just messing around with him’? “Down Neck Stomp” is a raucous, rocking, feel-good tune.

Electric guitar blues – this CD has ‘em. Try it, you’ll like it!!

From → CD review, Lady K

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