Dave Orban and the Mojo Gypsies – I Heard You Twice the First Time
14 tracks / 66:45
Many folks dream of becoming a musician some day, but Dave Orban actually went out and did it – twice! Inspired by the British invasion of the 1960s he joined the throngs of kids who purchased instruments and figured out how to sound like their heroes, though Dave took it a step further and learned about the blues that inspired many of these groups. As time went on, he made the “sensible” decision to do the whole school and day job thing, and for 17 years Orban dropped out of the music scene completely.
Then one day an old friend got ahold of Dave and asked him to come to a jam. With his borrowed guitar Orban realized that he had forgotten everything he had ever learned, but this experience ignited a fire in him that made him realize how much he missed the music. Skipping forward a few more decades, we find that he got his groove back and that his current lineup of the Mojo Gypsies has released an album of 14 of Dave’s very respectable original tunes. I Heard You Twice the First Time is a solid set of guitar-driven modern blues that draws on music from all over the United States, and it is definitely worth a listen.
On this disc, Dave Orban lays down the vocal and guitar tracks, and he is joined by the Mojo Gypsies, all of who are from the same New Jersey / Pennsylvania area. These fellows include Jeff Michael (aka Flourtown Fats) on bass, Mark A. Shewchuk on the skins, and Mike Scott on the tenor sax. Besides writing all of the songs Dave acted as the producer for the project, and the album was cut by Bobby Dreher and mixed by Brett Kull; these guys did a marvelous job of getting a clear and well-balanced sound.
The band kicks their set off with “Got That Woman on My Mind” which begins with a raunchy guitar intro and then rolls down into a luscious Chicago-style mix. Right from the start the Mojo Gypsies click, with a slow walking bass line from Michael, three or four layers of Dave’s guitars (in stereo), and bright and crisp drums from Shewchuk.
This is a big album (66 minutes!), so there is not enough room here for a blow-by-blow on every track, but there is a little bit of everything on I Heard You Twice the First Time. This includes straight-up guitar blues (“Baby, Take Your Time” and “Big-Boned Baby”), sweet Louisiana beats (“Ain’t No Lie” and “Dallas”), a touch of jazz (“The Told You So Blues” and “Trouble-Makin’ Woman”), and even a little rockabilly (“What’s Wrong”). The band carries all of these with no trouble at all, held down Shewchuk’s drums and augmented by Scott’s horn arrangements.
There are guest harmonica players on a few of the tracks too, and their presence provides a little extra spice for the sauce. Dave Holtzman (Little Red Rooster Blues Band and AC Steel) joins in for “I’m Sayin’ ‘Yes’ to Everything” and his haunting tone works magic alongside Orban’s jangly slide guitar for this Delta-tinged burner. And “Marky B” Berkowitz brings his harp to “Someone Else’s Woman,” a conventional acoustic blues song with a decidedly vintage vibe.
The Mojo Gypsies end their set with “Lookin’ for a Woman,” a righteous chunk of 70’s vintage funky blues. The bass and guitar tones are to die for on this track, and Shewchuk works the snare with a heavy backbeat. Topping all of this off, Mike Scott lays down a breathy solo break that nestles perfectly into the groove. This is nothing but the right stuff, and it is a perfect way to bring things to a close.
Dave Orban and the Mojo Gypsies did a fine job with I Heard You Twice the First Time, and as I said earlier, it is worth a listen. But you will want to listen to it more than once, as the songs are well written and provide a personal feel that is hard to find in the cover songs that fill many of the new blues albums. And be sure to head over to the Mojo Gypsies website to peruse their gig schedule – if you are anywhere near Philly you just have to see their live show!