Thursday, July 12, 2012

RJ Mischo Makes It Good

Veteran harmonica player and singer RJ Mischo has a new recording Make It Good on Delta Groove. On this recording he is mainly backed by guitarist Johnny Moeller (recently of Fabulous Thunderbirds fame), guitarist Nick Curran; bassist Ronnie James Weber; keyboardist Nick Connolly and drummer Wes Starr with two tracks having guitarist Jeremy Johnson from the Twin Cities area in Minnesota.

The 13 selections are all Mischo originals and with the exception of the rock and roll of the opening Trouble Belt, are Chicago and Memphis styled blues. While Mischo’s hoarse vocal might be a little over-the-top on Trouble Belt, Connolly conjures up Johnny Johnson while both Curran and Moeller take hot guitar breaks. The Frozen Pickle is a spirited shuffle instrumental that allows Mischo’s to showcase his wet and full harp tone, while Connolly on organ helps lay the foundation before taking a solid solo followed by some choice guitar. The title track with Mischo shouting the vocal has skeletal backing from Johnson’s reverb heavy guitar and Richard Medek’s drums.

Another instrumental, Papa’s S.T. Special has a driving groove and harmonica with some Sonny Terry styled whoops interjected while Mischo channel’s Rice Miller on a lazy shuffle, Minnesota Woman, that the rhythm section nails the groove on. Miller and the King Biscuit Boys are also conjured on the slow blues Not Your Good Man, with Moeller taking a pretty tight solo. The Biscuit Is Back is another song in a similar vein with a lyrical allusion to the King Biscuit Time theme with Moeller evoking Willie Johnson and Joe Willie Wilkins.

The two-part Arumbula is a harp feature with a latin tinge and Connolly also prominent, while another instrumental with Johnson on guitar, Up to The Brim is a lovely instrumental rendition of the late John Brim’s recording, Rattlesnake, with Mischo working in the Little Walter vein while Johnson added the right touch with his guitar and bass drum.

RJ Mischo’s Make It Good is a spirited album of rocking harmonica blues performances. Mischo’s energetic and rousing playing and the strong backing band results in a recording that should appeal to a a wide range of listeners.

Delta Groove provided me the review copy. Here RJ performs Up to The Brim from March 2012.

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