Midnight Circus Records
CD: 11 Songs; 65:45 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock
Is a live blues album easier to make than a studio album? It depends on what one means by “easier”. The dynamics are different in three crucial ways: 1) Studio albums often require a lot of producing, dubbing and editing. These features are minimized in live recordings. 2) Studio releases are designed to impress agents, producers, and the general market, whereas live ones cater to particular crowds – their energy and feedback. 3) CD’s produced in a studio typically have more original songs, whereas those done live contain more covers that audiences will know.
Consider Atlanta’s John Pagano, also known as JP Blues, as he performs Live at Darwin’s. Out of the eleven tracks on it, several are popular covers, including B.B. King’s “You Upset Me Baby”, the traditional tune “Old Man Joe”, Jay-Z’s “99 Problems”, and Muddy Waters’ “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl”. There are also several original compositions from JP’s 2013 CD, Make Room at the Table, which yours truly reviewed in March 2014. “Keep on Walking” and “Another Time Another Place” are familiar hits there. With all of these rehashed renditions, what’s the main selling point of Live at Darwin’s? Just as some readers absolutely have to buy every book written by their favorite authors, die-hard JP Blues fans will relish this offering.
For those who are unfamiliar with John Pagano and his work, his musical style is blues rock with heavy emphasis on the rock side. His vocals sound like those of a poor man’s John Fogerty. They’re sincere and serviceable, but might not take “Centerfield” in some purists’ opinions. JP’s chosen instrument is screaming electric shredder and on it, he is reminiscent of absolutely no one. His musicianship is like the 7×7 Steakburger at Steak and Shake. This sizzling sandwich contains – guess how many! – beef patties. After devouring all that meat, one will be more than replete. The same goes for Pagano’s fretwork, as he takes his place among the guitar behemoths.
With him Live at Darwin’s are drummer Shiloh Bloodworth, bassist Tony Hossri, and special guest guitarist Truett Lollis on track ten. Who are some other notable artists with whom JP has shared the stage? According to his website, the list includes Derek Trucks, Johnny Winter, Joe Bonamassa, Chris Beard, Pete Sears of Jefferson Starship, Buddy Cage of the New Riders, and his mentor Sam “Bluzman” Taylor. Pagano himself debuted in 2009 with Die Happy.
This CD is good for long road trips, hanging out with friends, or as background music for a summertime barbecue. It’s meant to be accompanied by adult beverages and recreational vapors of choice. JP is “kicking some serious [anus] tonight,” as the Darwin’s announcer says, but in an almost nonchalant, laid-back way. Blues rock lovers will certainly commend JP for his live efforts, but if they enjoy this live albun, they should also check out JP’s studio release Make Room at the Table too.