Monday, March 24, 2014

Mikey Junior Traveling South

Having established himself over the past decade among blues enthusiasts in the Mid-Atlantic, Mikey Junior has a new recording (his 8th CD) Traveling South Swingnation/VizzTone), that displays a maturation in his artistry. A triple threat as a singer, songwriter and harmonica player, “Traveling South” has 12 fresh performances that is marvelously produced by Dave Gross (who plays guitar); the backing back also includes Dean Shot on guitar; Jeremy Baum on keyboards; Matt Raymond on bass; and Michael Bram on drums.

From the opening title track, Mikey Junior’s vocals and harmonica display a presence and authority that Gross’ production enhances. Listening to several of the selections, one hears echoes of a Billy Boy Arnold Vee-Jay recording with the grooves and tremolo in the backing of Morning On My Way, while elsewhere some of the guitar riffs and solos echo Ike Turner’s work on Federal. Gross did the recording and handled the mix on the twelve performances here and like Mikey Junior on harmonica, has a concern for detail and tone that is striking throughout.

Harp fans certainly will dig Mikey Junior’s fat tone (including some strong chromatic playing). Then there is his strong delivery of the lyrics of  excellent originals, mostly about cheating lovers and heart-break. All is captured in the marvelous engineering of these nuanced performances. While well-grounded in the blues tradition, Mikey Junior brings his own voice for a terrific Traveling South.

I received my review copy from VizzTone. It is scheduled to be released tomorrow. Here is a Fall 2013 video of Mikey Junior performing Traveling South.

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