seeking the new blues world/monkey junk, kenny blues boss wayne, manzarek/rogers band



The blues must grow. That is a stone cold fact.

The fans and people who spend hard earned dollars still respect the genre, but every fan knows you can’t improve on Howling Wolf, BB King or Muddy Waters.  What that leaves for fans are artists who’s foundation lies in the blues but expand the format.

Make way for the “new” blues world

It comes from a variety of sources.

Newer blues rock comes from artists such as Popa Chubby, Kenny Wayne Shepperd, The Jimmy Bowskill Band or The Shaftmen.

Soul/blues artists include Tommy Castro, jam roots blues comes via Ben Harper, Ronnie Earl rules instrumental blues, blues/jazz from Canadian Jack De Keyzer and of course Joe Bonamassa’s heavy Cream inspired riffs seem to all fit under a new blues banner that continues to keep  fans interested in the genre 

Add to the list Monkey Junk, Manzarek-Rogers Band, and Kenny Blues Boss Wayne. Each of these artsts essentially put their spin on the blues genre.

MonkeyJunk-To Behold- Honestly, MonkeyJunk is the most interesting band to come out of blues based music in the last  3 years.

 It’s pretty simple. Great chops, variety in the songwriting and a natural feel for what grooves. From the low down Chicago style of Your Gonna Change (Or I’m Gonna Leave) over to the R & B of With These Hands, the swamp rock  influence of You Don’t Know or even the moody minor chord While You Are Mine  simply can’t miss.

Ray Manzarek-Roy Rogers Band-Translucent Blues-Great muscianship never goes out of style. Ray Manzarek and Roy Rogers have been firmly in this category for their entire professional life.  Still, I did not know what to expect from this album.

What you get is “smart” blues rock bravado with flashes of jazz inspiration near the end of the cd.

 Game of Skill borrowing from Manzarek’s Doors legacy and whiplashed by Rogers full blown slide work is one of the best blues rock songs of recent memory. Hell, if that was not enough River of Madness and Fives and Ones will actually have you singing the chorus. How can this be possible?

Trust me it is. I have not taken this cd out of my vehicle since I received it. What is also intersting is that drummer Kevin Hayes and bassist Steve Evans support Rogers and Manzerek’s broad textures while creating a pocket of groove.

Other highlights are George Brook’s sax work on Kick (not the Inxs song)  the funky Blues in My Shoes, and pristine depth jazz influenced instrumental As You Leave, which again features Brook’s sax work.

Translucent Blues is easily one of the best recordings this year in any genre.

Kenny Blues Boss Wayne-An Old Rock On A Roll-To say Wayne is simply a boogie piano player would not do this debut album justice. Sure, the piano is up front.  As it should be.  

Under the superb guidance and smarts of producer Duke Robillard Wayne transforms into a kind of all round new age Fats Domino.

That’s because Wayne’s songs like Devil Woman, the Johnnie Johnson influenced Run Little Joe, the funky blues of Howlin and the jump of Fantasy Meets Reality roll off your tongue and get your foot tapping. This album just feels good.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, songwriter/vocalist with The Shaftmen www.theshaftmen.com and hosts his own roots and blues show here http://emms.podbean.com/

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August 2011

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