Dry Johnson – Long Live Them Blues Vol. 1
Mike Zito’s big time rhythm section for the last two years have been bass player Terry Dry and drummer Matthew Robert Johnson. Zito plays guitar here on their first album as Dry Johnson and sings a bit in their support. Featuring a host of other talent, this CD is a powerful start for what should become the Dry Johnson era of recordings. Originally the duo met in Fargo, ND, in 1998 and have played together on and off for 20 years. Zito met them in St. Lois somewhere around 2002 when opening for Hadden Sayers. Dry and Johnson have a tight sound and are a great backline and musicians in general.
The first track is a DJ intro. Track two begins the music with “Daddy’s Got A Cadillac,” a fine cut featuring Zito performing a duo with Houston chanteuse Annika Chambers. Both Zito and Dry play guitar and it’s a driving song with impassioned vocal work. It is a great hook to get you started. “Long Live Them Blues” is next, with Might Orq on guitar , Steve Krase on harp and Miss Trudy Lynn on vocals. The resonator resonates sweetly, the harp blows greasily and Lynn offers up some tasty vocals.
“Hit The Highway” follows with John Del Toro Richardson on vocals and guitar. This is the only cover, a Johnny “Guitar Watson cut. He sings with guts and emotion and plays some restrained beautiful guitar. Well done! Orq returns and plays guitar on “Drunk Girl With A Tambourine.” He plays some pretty licks and Snit sings with a nasal tone appropriate for the tune and witty approach. A mid-tempo swing tune, it’s a fun number. Orq then plays and sings on “Too Many Hipsters,” a Texas blues rocker with a driving beat and a big guitar sound. Snit does what’s called an old man rant to close out the tune where he complains about Hipsters messing up the traffic patterns.
“Juke Joint” swings nicely with Dry on lead vocals and Orq and James Wilhite on guitar. There’s some well done steel and electric guitar here that adds to the Texas ambience. It is a great dance number that swings and grooves nicely. Dry joins Wilhite on guitar as Wilhite sings for “ I Walk Alone,” a somber and dark song with real grit. Wilhites baritone testifies deeply and his guitar adds to the mood and mix. “Trashy Women and Cheap Guitars” features Zito and Dry on guitar and Dry once again fronting the band. The lyrics are fun and will be a crowds pleaser in this Texas country blues rocker. The slide is out and the guitar pedals are pumping to make this sound like it should. The instrumental “Fried Chicken” features Zito on guitar with a big, beautiful ringing tone and fancy finger picking. Shouts (apparently by Dry) of “Fried Chicken,” “Turnip Greens,” and “Corn Bread” add to the overall “ambiance.” The album closes with “Little Bird” and Dry filling all the parts (vocals and guitars). He does a nice job with this somber Texas blues ballad.
I loved the album from start to finish. It’s got a sweet variety of tunes, a big Texas sound, great musicianship by the regulars and guests and makes for a great listen. I enjoyed this one over an over again in getting ready to review it and I am sure it will get many a listen more as time passes. I highly recommend this one!