Michael Rubin – I’ll Worry If I Wanna
Many Hats Records
CD: 9 Songs, 37 Minutes
Styles: Harmonica Blues, Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Humor, All Original Songs
I love the cover art of bluesman Michael Rubin’s latest CD. It depicts three figures meditating. The ghostly one on the left is deep in a trance, while their counterpart on the right has one eye open. Whom are they looking at? Mr. Rubin, in living color, tugging at his sideburns while seated in the lotus position. Such a picture encapsulates this album perfectly. It’s got wit, snark, angst and harmonica as fire-engine-red as Rubin’s T-shirt in the pic. In the late ‘80s and ‘90s, we clung to Bobby McFerrin and his one-hit-wonder mantra “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” In 2022, far more of us (myself included) agree with Mr. Rubin: I’ll Worry If I Wanna.
Featuring nine original songs and this year’s most sophomoric humor, it’s a wild ride. Come for the instrumentation, stay for the LOLs. Feel your jaw drop as you listen to the plea of a “Little Rabbit” – “I’m gonna get you hopping and be real loose. I’ll let you nibble my carrot, taste my carrot juice.” The following number, “Go Milk Your Own Cow,” is a bit more discreet. “Don’t you ring [my cow’s] bell. She ain’t yours to sell. Think you’re the farmer in the dell? Don’t you ring her bell.” Later on you’ll meet a “Kama Sutra Girl” and do an alcohol-fueled “bounce” with your “Beer Belly Baby.” If this sounds like too much, and/or if religious relatives are around, skip to the last and best track – an instrumental called “Fourth Coast.” It showcases Rubin’s harp skills and the band’s soaring style without lyrical support. Loop it on your CD/MP3 player.
Justin M. Norton’s liner notes state, “Rubin is an intellectual and a theory nut, but also a profoundly soulful, genuine, and hilarious person with incredible feel. I’m not sure any of his previous recordings have tapped into that soul like I’ll Worry If I Wanna. True, Rubin can wow you with his knowledge and chops. There aren’t many albums featuring a 16-hole C chromatic instrumental in the key of A (known as fourth position, hence the name “Fourth Coast”). But Rubin could stick to playing traditional blues all night, and it would rock. . .His unconventional vocals take you off guard until you realize how well they work. His lyrics are hilarious and somehow remind me of Tom Robbins (Rubin hates Tom Robbins but takes this as a compliment.)”
Performing along with Michael (vocals, harmonica, cowbell) are Mike Keller on guitar, Michael Archer on bass, Mark Hays on drums and second cowbell, Emily Gimble on keyboards, Dr. Sick on fiddle, and Josh Fulero on percussion. Background vocals are provided by the McMercy Family Band: Lindsey Verrill, Dan Grissom, Ted Hadji, Ryan Conlin, and Wilson Marks.
If you’ve got the everyday jitters, let Michael Rubin help you laugh your worries away!