Midnight Circus Productions
CD: 12 songs; 52:40 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock
Part of what makes the blues so perennially magnificent is its versatility as a genre, with many subcategories comprising it. Nevertheless, most if not all blues artists follow a foundational recipe for entertainment: vocals, lyrics, and instrumentation. What makes one musician different from another is how much emphasis s/he puts on each of these “ingredients.” In the case of Atlanta, GA’s John Pagano, known as JP Blues, the third one is the most prominent – specifically rocking electric guitar. In “Make Room at the Table,” his third release on Midnight Circus Productions, he certainly pours on the ‘hot sauce’ of fiery fretwork and killer keyboards. Also performing are drummers Shiloh Bloodworth and Yonrico Scott, and bassists Todd Smallie, Johnathan Norwood, John Young, and Tony Hossri. On rap and background vocals are Ro$e LaFi, co-producer Richard and Toni L’Hommedieu, and Pamela Harrison. Occasionally when it comes to food, one flavor can overwhelm an entire entrée, and JP’s guitar sometimes does so in terms of his songs. However, if one’s in a partying mood instead of a reflective one, this is an advantage instead of a drawback! Of twelve selections on his blues-rock buffet, eight are originals and four are “covered dishes.” These three of the former category are tasty:
Track 01: “Keep on Walking” – John Pagano’s organ keyboard and bass skills are nearly as impressive as those on guitar, as he demonstrates in this opening number. Its strength is its simplicity, both instrumentally and lyrically: “I’m gonna keep on walking, and I’ll get there and sing, ‘Oh yeah, people gotta move on, oh yeah….” Engineer and co-producer Richard L’Hommedieu provides bass background vocals on such an addictive chorus.
Track 03: “Old Man Joe” – This relentless swamp stomp contains a growling guitar ‘hook’ and solo, gritty (if a tad incomprehensible) lyrics, and an eerie refrain of the title character’s name. “One day someone found Old Joe dead, bottle of gin on by his bed,” JP reveals as the final fate of this mysterious male. Yonrico Scott’s thumping drumbeat and Todd Smallie’s booming bass put the finishing touches on a ballad that will surely have listeners playing air guitar or “headbanging” along.
Track 04: “Make Room at the Table” – Clocking in at an all-too-brief two minutes and twenty-three seconds, this CD’s title track is JP Blues’ message to his contemporaries: “Make room at the table; it’s too cold outside. Make room at the table; I think I’ll spend the night!” Its bouncy beat is the catchiest part of the song – perhaps not ‘danceable’ in the sense that most fans imagine, but it might inspire fits of jumping up and down among young people. Shiloh Bloodworth plays the “cajón” here, a six-sided, box-shaped percussion instrument originally from Peru.
If powerhouse guitar monsters are one’s favorite type of blues musician, then “Make Room at the Table” for JP Blues!