Jason King (Roxas), originally from the Philippines, hails from Northern Nevada where he holds forth with a busy schedule of performances leading the Jason King Band which today features a lineup of bassist Wilbert Banks, drummer Michael Moore and Weissenborn/ lap steel guitarist Tommy Stiles.
On his new release, Blue Skies & Black Shoes (Hip-Rex Music), the band is augmented by Pat Dodson playing drums on several tracks, Jason Stanton on keyboards, Freddie Mills on harmonica and Rick Metz on saxophone. King contributed all the songs here which range from straight blues to some numbers, including the title track, that are more rock flavored.
He is an personable vocalist and a stinging guitarist. One can detect some Stevie Ray Vaughan influence although his vocals and guitar attack are a bit more restrained. Certainly listening to the opening S teppin’ Out, one can get a sense of his appeal with some nice harp added to the mix. Driftin’, with its churning rhythm is a mixed track as his vocal comes off a bit muffled, but Cryin’ Shame, is a slow blues with exceptional, jazzy guitar as he tells his woman its a crying shame how she throws her love away and its he who she betrays. It is a pretty straight-forward performance, but he delivers it strongly.
Learn to Take It Slow, is another solid blues performance with a nice groove. The mood changes on Broken, which has a country - southern rock feel, along with a reflective lyric. On Mean & Nasty, a full band is present with Stanton’s greasy Hammond B-3, and Metz’s raspy saxophone backing this slow blues, with forceful solos from Metz and King (again really strong here). The title track, another tune more southern rock than blues, evokes the Allman Brothers with a nice lyric and some guitar styled in a Dickie Betts vein. Soulshaker, with a nice funky groove, also has some blues-infused rock flavoring. My Little Baby, is a rocking blues shuffle but does not stand out.
Listening to Blue Skies & Black Shoes, one can appreciate that he is quite busy around Reno, Nevada. This is quite a very listenable mix of blues and southern rock with several strong performances, along with some that are congenial if not standing out per se. It should particularly appeal for those who listening tastes run from blues to country and southern rock. His website is http://JASONKINGBAND.COM and is available from the website, cdbaby and downloadable at itunes.
This review originally appeared in slightly different form in the July Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 328). My review copy was provided by a publicist for the release.