Jonny T-Bird and the MPs – Play Time
Neon Grub Jeer Music
CD: 10 Songs, 43 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Ensemble Blues, All Original Songs
Several years ago – nearly two decades – my Boomer parents and I went to a blues festival. A merry band of musicians duly performed there, duly called Tons O’ Fun. They were brassy in more ways than one. Their sound hailed back to 1940s ensembles, full of horns and high spirits. Their energy was vivacious, their spirit infectious. Listening to them, we in the crowd couldn’t help but have as good a time as they promised. Mom said, “We should hire them to play at our other daughter’s wedding. In fact, they should play lots of weddings. They’re not particularly bluesy or the best guitar shredders a la Jimi Hendrix. Instead, they are exactly as advertised.”
Fast forward to 2022. Wisconsin’s Jonny T-Bird and the MPs are here for Play Time. Featuring Jon Neuberger, a front man on the autism spectrum, this new release consists of ten original songs that mix blues (“Grown Man Blues”), rock (“I Came to Play”), funk (“Quittin’ Time”) , and alternative (“Flightless Bird”) in a manner that will raise your eyebrows and make your ear hairs tingle. In terms of instrumentation, it’s great music, especially on Jonny T-Bird’s vibrant vehicle. He can not only make his guitar sing but soar. From the age of 13 onward, he has.
Listen to the best track on the album for proof: “Love is a Four Letter Word.” The lyrics are on the pedestrian side, but the sentiment is so relatable no one will care. Also, what Neuberger lacks in vocal polish, his melodic electric riffs deliver in spades. Loop the solo in the middle of this seven-minute, seventeen-second hit. It resembles Dickey Betts’ iconic solo on “Gambler’s Roll” by the Allman Brothers Band. Even though the latter is the proverbial Mona Lisa, Jonny’s homage is more than a bland print in a hotel-room picture frame. You’ll rejoice in how good T-Bird is when he lets his guitar do the warbling. On no other song is it clearer. “Plank Tone” comes in a close second, seamlessly blending classic and esoteric blues styles.
With our hero (lead/rhythm guitar, ukulele, harmonica and lead vocals) are Jenna Kopitske on Wurlitzer piano, Hammond B3 organ, and drums and percussion; “Cadillac” Craig Carter on bass; Ryan Carter on drums for the track I just mentioned, Jenny Abbott Goodell on lead guitar for track five; Steve Streator on tenor and soprano sax; Julia Lewandowski on alto sax; Lauren Sperry on baritone sax, and Monica Barden on harmony vox for tracks five and ten.
Are you looking for tons of fun in your blues experience? Then enjoy Play Time with Jonny T-Bird and the MPs!