11 songs – 52 minutes
The Back Porch Blues Band lays down a pleasing mix of contemporary blues this self-produced all-original debut studio recording. Based in eastern Kansas, this four-piece ensemble puts forth far more energy than their laid-back name suggests. They’re shuffle masters of the first order.
Together for 12 years, the group work both sides of the Missouri River and are popular performers at festivals throughout the Midwest in summer months. They’re led by harp player Rod Peterson, whose influences range from Little Walter and Junior Wells to Sugar Ray Norcia and Jason Ricci, and guitarist Greg Spreer, a former cover band musician who’s gifted in diverse stylings ranging from rock to jazz, funk and R&B. Drummer Rick Bruneris a familiar face behind the kit in the Kansas City music scene, and bassist Joe Fontenot is a New Orleans transplant who’s recorded on Blacktop, Rounder, Jungle and Flying Fish backing Little Mike And The Tornadoes, Lynn August, John Paul’s Flying Circus and Mamou. All four members take turns at the microphone, providing more vocal, and Peterson and Spreer have written all the material.
The disc chugs out of the station with the syncopated rhythm of “If You Dance With Me.” It’s a friendly little shuffle in which the singer suggests that his lady get ready because the band kicks off at nine: “If we leave right now/We’ll get there on time/If you show me your moves/Baby, I’ll show you mine.” It’s a toe-tapper that gives the entire band a chance to stretch out while getting on dance floor, too. Spreer picks up the pace with a swinging guitar riff on “Love Me Tonight,” which plays the dance theme forward. In this one, the singer spots the girl on the floor, enjoys what he sees and makes his move, relating everything he’d like to do with and to her. Peterson’s harp work, which was subdued in the opener, comes to the fore on an extended solo.
The theme changes on “Down To The Church House.” This time the singer’s heading there to pray for a friend who could use a little help, then he’s splitting for the country to leave big-city problems behind. It’s another spirited, high-tempo number with Spreer in full control. One of those issues in that song might be a “Cold Blooded Woman,” subject of the next tune. She wants “to put a freeze on me/There’s love in her heart/But it’s only ‘bout 32 degrees.”
The pace slows for “Wishing Well,” a minor-tuned ballad atop a slow shuffle in which the singer’s praying again, dealing with difficulties after losing a job of 30 years in late middle age. The band gets funky for “Slow Moving Train,” a harp and rhythm section driven tale about a drinking problem before the guitar takes over for the next medium-paced shuffle in which singer thought he had to get away from his woman and live on his own, but times got tough so he’s “Headed On Home To You.”
Leaving home for good definitely is on the singer’s mind for “Who Ya Think You’re Foolin’,” about a lying, cheating woman. It’s a straight-ahead, medium paced Chicago blues with a lumpity-lump rhythm pattern. The theme continues for the speedy “I’m A Travelin’ Man.” This time, wherever the singer lands will be his home. The disc concludes with “Reaper Man,” a minor key tale of an unexplained brush with death, and “If The World’s Gonna Change,” a bottom-driven complaint about life in the real world.
If you enjoy shuffles and the sound of a rock-solid Midwestern bar band, you’ll love this one. It definitely deserves a spin. It’s available through Amazon and CDBaby with a direct link on the Back Porch Blues Band website.