Jon Gindick – Love at the All Night Café
CD: 12 Songs, 50:15 Minutes
Styles: Harmonica Blues, All Original Songs
Educator and researcher Alfie Kohn recently had an article published in the New York Times entitled, “Can Everyone Be Excellent?” It’s an interesting question that raises another one: Excellent at what, exactly? In the case of students at school, this means getting A’s. In the case of “America’s Harmonica Laureate,” it means playing harp worthy of the highest honors. This author of the world’s best-selling harmonica instruction books and leader of Blues Harmonica Jam Camp has released his sophomore album, Love at the All Night Café. Two aspects of blues music in which Jon excels are harp (obviously) and songwriting (not-so-obviously). The area that doesn’t get an “A” is vocals. Gindick has a conversational style, and yours truly means that in a literal sense. Nevertheless, the twelve original tunes he presents make the grade.
On his website, Jon comments, “I’ve been playing harp, guitar, singing and songwriting for 50 years…I love the poetry of the perfect melody meeting the perfect words and the perfect chords and groove. A lot of this has to do with my job as an advertising copywriter, creating and writing instructional harp books, and also my lifetime exploring language as a wannabe novelist. It has to do with my boyhood fascination with early Dylan, the Beatles, Van Morrison, Tom Waits and the primacy of great lyrics and interesting chord progressions.”
Joining Gindick (harmonicas, guitar, vocals) is Ralph Carter on bass guitar, keyboards and percussion, classical guitar, cigar box guitar, background vocals, and all aspects of recording and production. Franck Goldwasser also stars on electric and acoustic guitars, as does Pete Gallagher on drums and background vocals.
The album’s opening track is killer, earning top marks in instrumentation and catchiness.
Track 01: “I Was Born to Wail” – Jon pays homage to his heroes in this finger-snapping ditty, adding autobiographical details here and there. Mostly, he lets his instrument of choice do the talking. He makes it tell a story of victory and celebration, putting listeners in a party mood right from the get-go. The hidden message is that talents are both innate and developed with hard work. The monologue in the middle describes “juke-joint heaven” with masters on the other side.
Excellence comes in many forms, and Jon Gindick’s harmonica skills earn a stratospheric A+!