11 songs time-43:54
All is not lost blues my fellow blues lovers when out of Central Pennsylvania of all places comes the CD debut of lowdown, gritty juke and honky-tonk fired original blues band. These dudes are funky in all the right places. Lead by front man Shawn Strickland on harmonica and gravelly vocals that demand your attention along with his witty lyrics. His voice has a striking resemblance to that of Florida bluesman J.P. Soars. Shawn’s dad Gary handles guitar chores alongside Al Meck. Talk about yer gruesome twosome, these guys churn out beautifully off kilter guitar solos that dig deep into the soulful blues well. Mark Peterson’s drumming adds depth with his dynamic style, while bassist Tim Reinhard anchors it all down. Special guest Greg Burgess adds piano as needed. No frills here, just a gut bucket ensemble churning it out. Shawn’s song writing pulls from the blues tradition to form something that is uniquely their own. To use an over used cliché, this music is “real”. It rings true as a depiction of their blues reality.
A strong tom-tom beat kicks off “Thin Ice”, as Shawn’s menacing vocal and harp lead the charge over the raunchy guitar assault. “That’s Alright” is a slow and deliberate goodbye song that benefits from some piercing guitar. Ever present creative harp and distorted guitar power “Morrow County Jail”. The title song is some rollicking good rockin’ blues that has a nice under current of boogie-woogie piano. “Honey Bee” is a slow profession of love. The infectious riff of “Go Ahead” just sticks in your brain.
“When You Smile” has a hypnotic effect as Shawn’s harmonica seems to play the perfect notes. “Broken Strings” is funky as a drunken monkey. The mournful harp on “Papa Bear” digs deep into the essence of the blues. Some funky wah-wah guitar is thrown into the mix on the closer “I Gots This”.
Strong original songs in the hands of a band that really knows the blues inside out is what’s going on here. I’ve tried to describe this music the best I can, but you need to hear it for yourself. Gritty, nasty, lowdown, real life juke blues is as close as I can come to an apt description. There is really some heavy going ons here. I gots dem old Central Pennsylvania blues agin mama!