Jörg Danielsen – Foolin’ Around
17 Tracks – 76 minutes
At age 16, Australian born Jörg Danielsen became intrigued with the Chicago style electric blues when he attended a blues concert with his father. He immediately decided to become a musician and studied blues and three years later in 2008 formed his first band that he called the Vienna Blues Association. Their debut album was released in 2016 with three more to follow leading to their fifth album Foolin’ Around. The band is still going strong although the lineup has changed. The band consists of Danielsen on guitar and vocals, Christoph Karas on drums, and a new bass player, Martin Melzer. His focus remains on the style of electric blues from the 1960’s and 70’s.
In 2023, Danielsen was selected by the Austrian Blues Society to represent Austria in the 13th Annual European Blues Challenge held this year in Poland. Twenty-two countries were represented in the competition with the Spanish group, Noa and The Hell Drinkers, surfacing as this year’s winners. In addition to the competition and his band’s concerts, Danielsen is the host for frequent blues jams.
The new album features ten original songs and seven covers kicking off with “She Wants to Dance” as she cannot “hold back when the shuffle starts”. Jörg has a smooth vocal style and guitar on a song that sounds like it could have been a song from The Fabulous Thunderbirds. The instrumental “JD Boogie” gets the joint jumping. “I’ll Be Your Doctor” features Argentina’s Jorge Costales on harmonica as Danielsen sings “I can chase your blues away.” “What A Time” moves into a slow blues with Anita Fabiani on organ and Danielsen’s impressive guitar sliding along. He cheerfully says he is “singing in the blues, it’s a brand-new day / I’m feeling good in every single way / No troubles on my mind with you by my side”.
Fabiani provides a juke joint styled piano on the album’s first cover, Willie Dixon’s “29 Ways”, a rocking jump blues. “Foolin’ Around” is a driving instrumental boogie. Jorge Costales provides the harp again on “Devil on My Shoulder”, a shuffle where Jörg says he is “dating a married woman, her husband is not around, how evil can it be.” The next cover is from Hudson “Tampa Red” Whitaker, “It Hurts Me Too”, which is followed by “Cold Women with Warm Hearts” originally written and performed by Mack Rice, whose most famous song is “Mustang Sally”.
Federico joins as guest guitarist on “True Love”, who I have to assume plays the slide guitar for the song as Jörg begs her to “stay with me”. “Watchin’ The Sun Rise’ has a bit of a country twang amid an old-time feel with Barcelona’s Chino Swingslide joining on guitar. Jimmy Liggins’ “I Ain’t Drunk” first released in 1954 follows and immediately rocks out. It is subsequently paired with Shifty Henry’s “Let Me Go Home Whiskey” which was originally a hit for Amos Hubbard in the early 1950’s and was later revived as a hit for Asleep at the Wheel”.
Buster Brown’s “Fannie Mae” from 1959 gets things jumping again. Tota Blues, a harp player from Barcelona joins Jörg on “Gonna Stop Thinking”, a bouncy blues that finds him “just staring at the walls”. He then taps Slovak harp player Juraj Schweigert to join him on “Booze Drinking Women” as he compares women who drink whiskey, gin, wine and beer and decides that each drink could “make me happy too”. and proceeds to bring the drink of their choice to the ladies’ homes only to find himself kicked out of each house except for the whiskey drinking woman who loved them all. Jörg concludes the album with ZZ Top’s “Mexican Blackbird” as he plays an acoustic slide guitar.
This is the first album I have heard from Danielsen. I therefore did some research about his past music and found several comments that noted his capable vocals, but with the advice that while he sings in English, his diction is sometimes clouded in his Austrian accent. If that was true, he certainly has improved on this album. I never picked up any trace of the accent on this album. His diction now matches that of any of his American counterparts. Overall, it is certainly easy to see why Europe has accepted him as one their top blues acts and also deserving of respect in America.