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  • Bryon Harris

Bongo Boy Records - 'Backroom Blues Volume Five'

Bongo Boy Records has released a stylistically diverse 18-track blues compilation album. Tracks feature Grammy nominated and Rock n Roll Hall of Fame artists like Joe Bonamassa, The Yardbirds and other award winning Blues musicians. If you have a soul for the blues, you'll enjoy the diversity of this album which offers up classic blues, blues-rock, folk-blues, country-blues and much more.

The album starts with Mike Gallemore’s blues-rock song “Fantasy.” The songs commences with a crisp, wailing blues guitar solo. Mike sings the first verse,“We traveled down a rock road. Never knowing what was to unfold” singing about a wish-washy relationship. Mike feels every word in his vocal performance. The hook is strong, staying with you, “It’s just your f-f-f-fantasy” whiles instrumental breaks provide plenty of savvy blues guitar.

Track two is Big Chris & D’Bare Bones Band with “Girl in the Window.” A thick and juicy 12-bar blues song to dig your teeth into peppered with classic blues guitar phrasing and riffs. The vocals and lyrics match the music’s heavier vibe with character and edge. “Why must she suffer for so many very long? Will anybody see her, before the girl in the window is gone?”

Bob Birthisel’s Blues Conversation is up next. The door opens with “Okay guys we’re going to give them 7 on the 5 one time” making for an engaging intro that then turns to 8-to-the- bar. The chorus shines with some R & B, “Let’s have a blues conversation, a little blues conversation, Lord have Mercy!” Instrumentally, a blues conversation is held between the keys and guitar while the bass walks the line. The vocals are very clear so you can hear every word of this fun, swinging piece that invites you to join the conversation.

Inches of Sin presents “Can’t Help Me Now,” a sultry blues song. Opening with a bluesy hum, "Can't Help Me Now" moves into a nice steady groove. “There’ ain’t nothing wrong baby, with you loving me. I don’t’ care what your Daddy say, you ought to be with me.” The duo, male and female, sing in unison throughout and a crisp rockin’ guitar solo is featured.

The song Buckaroo ft. Joe Bonamessa by Katja Rieckermann offers a nice change up with a full band sound that bursts at the seams with energy . Buckaroo ft. Joe Bonamessa is infused with funk and soul. The song offers a truly jammin’ sax solo that will get you off your feet and you won't want to miss the stellar guitar work by the great Mr. Joe Bonamessa. Bob John and Kevin’s “I've Seen the Light” has earth and grit for a sound that takes you onto stage with them. This song swings with hints of gospel, R & B and soul. With its upbeat and catchy vibe, “I’ve Seen the Light,” will have you singing and dancing along. “There’s no better feeling you can have inside when you know that Jesus is on your side.” Guitar solos throughout mimic the vocals in unison or call and response mode enhancing the inspirational vibe.

One of my favorites on the album, Barb Maxey's love song “Since I First Met You.” This laid back mid-tempo ballad unfolds nicely and is well-written. Barb presents refined vocals that showcase her talent as an artist. Her tone, diction and musical phrasing is very nice. Also of note are the tasteful guitar solos throughout.

Slim Chance & The Gamblers “The Last to Know” is an up-tempo, high-energy blues rock song. In this song, you can really hear their classic rock n’ roll influences, bringing you back to the days when rock bands broke out into live, improvisational jams. Longer instrumental interludes and transitions along with an all-out jam session gives fans plenty of material to bob their heads to.

Hooysoosay, “Down Home Girl” is instantly swampy with a folk-blues feel. “Lord I swear that perfume you wear was made of turnip greens and every time I kiss you, it taste like pork and beans.” There's a bit of old school rock and roll thrown into this melodic song and the lyrics are fun.

Johnny Charles “Stinger” is the first instrumental piece on the album. The song opens with a sting as electric guitar sparks us into a rockin’ drum beat. After the beat, a surf-blues-rock energy emerges from the water as melodic solos come in and out of the waves. The vibe is fun and invites you to join the ride.

Bobby Rue “Leave the Past Behind You” if chock full of artistic sensibilities. This endearing melodic ballad has a country-blues presentation with a nostalgic feel to it. Lovely guitar solos in an upper register compliment the song's register. Bobby's voice has a classic country-blues sound. "Pain is gone from her mind. She looks so at ease. Will you sing that song for me?"

Blind Dawg Ben Miller – “Blues Put Da Devil in Me” tells a vivid story about Ben’s early year experiences where he learned “the blues on his Grandpa’s knee.” His Grandpa gave him “moon shine whisky” and his brother gave him some “devil’s beer.” Blind Dawg’s style has the all characteristics that fans of the blues will love; he sings it raw and authentic perfectly matching his rich life experiences

“The Best Place” by Buck69 opens with a ripping and rocking guitar solo. The solo is clean, crisp and fast. As the singing comes in, you can hear the Clapton influence. The foundation maintains its frantic energy with swift rhythm guitar playing and lead licks cutting through. The vocals sit well above the mix with a more mellow tone. Half way through, an instrumental break in guitar leads to a very nice piano solo. The hook is strong, “Baby you’re the best place I’ve ever been.”

Revis Johnson, “My Gun” mixes blues with some Motown. The Motown is heard in the style of background vocals. Johnson sings, “A gun never killed no man. It’s always been the one who holds it.” The song is all about the right to gun ownership. The lyrics present a serious subject matter while Revis keeps the music light and easy to swing to. Vocally, Revis presents a gritty, down-to-earth sound that compliments the blues well. Bob John and Kevin are up again with "9 to 5 Prison." The song commences with the verses sung in an unplugged speak-style manner, low and from the throat. “It’s been 14 days since I got out of prison. They locked me up for trying to survive.” The sound here is less produced presenting a gritty blues. Guitar solos cut through the grain. The idea that the prison is 9 to 5 could very well be a statement about being trapped in the rat race.

Bobby Rue’s “Old Sneaker Blues” creates a great atmosphere around the simple concept of being okay with who you are. “I got holes in my shoes. And that’s the way I like to wear them.” Musically, this song stands out with some very nice melodic solo playing against the 12-bar layout and lyrics that tell it like it is.

Big Bone Daddy, “All My Time” captures from the start with a heartfelt ballad reminiscent of roots rocker Bob Seger or even Procol Harum’s “Whiter shade of Pale.” This song has universal appeal with just the right amount instrumentation, never over-doing it. Big Bone Daddy impresses with their artistic sensibilities. “All My Time” hits all the right marks turning out a classic blues-rock love song that will turn red hearts blue and leave you crying for more.

The last song on the album, and one of the best, is by The Yardbirds. “Sitting on the Top of the World” will certainly whet your appetite for more of their sound and have you hitting replay over and over. Instantly, the vocals present excellent tone and interpretation. Amazing musicianship is heard throughout with musicians who have nuance and truly gel together.

For more information on 'Backroom Blues Volume Five,' please visit Bongo Boy Records.

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