Studebaker John review…July 20, 2013…

STUDEBAKER JOHN’S MAXWELL STREET KINGS

KINGSVILLE JUKIN’

DELMARK RECORDS  DE-830

MISSISSIPPI TO CHICAGO–WHEN THEY PLAYED THE REAL BLUES–SHE’S ALL RIGHT–SHAKE IT DOWN NOW–THE REST IS UP TO YOU–I AM THE HOUSEROCKER–HOWLIN’ IN THE MOONLIGHT–IN CASE OF FIRE–RIDE AGAIN–KINGSVILLE JUKIN–WICKED SOUL–COLD BLACK NIGHT–MOJO HAND–SHAKE SOME FOR ME–RIGHT TONIGHT–BAD GASOLINE

 

Back in the day, John Grimaldi tooled around Chicago in a Studebaker Lark, working for his father’s construction firm as a plumber’s assistant.  Exposed to the thriving blues scene that was the daily soundtrack down on Maxwell Street, John soon was good enough on guitar and harp to sit in at clubs all over the South and West Side to sharpen his skills.

His third album for Delmark, entitled “Kingsville Jukin,” is sixteen originals that capture John and his band at their raw, powerful best.  John is on huitar, harp, and vocals, and is joined by Rick Kreher on guitar, Bob Halaj on bass, and Steve Cushing on drums.

In listening to this album, one gets the feeling of what it must’ve been like to walk down Maxwell Street in its heyday, with the blues buzzin’ all around.  John heard the greats, such as John Lee Hooker and Robert Nighthawk, and the obscure, such as one-armed harpist Big John Wrencher, one of John’s early influences, so much so that this set is dedicated to him.And, he captures their intensity within these grooves, and does so convincingly.

That infectious, rolling, Hooker boogie is at the fore on the biographical “Mississippi To Chicago,” and again on the freight-train rumble of “The Rest Is Up To You,” with John firing off some cool call-and-response harp.  “Howlin’ In The Moonlight” has John doing his best Howlin’ Wolf calls, over a killer background riff.  “Shake It On Down” is dedicated to Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green, while the tough-as-nails swagger of “I Am The Houserocker” goes out to the long-time member of Hound Dog Taylor’s band, Brewer Philips, and John lets his hell-hound slide wail on this one.  The title cut is a classic harp-driven, boogie-fied instrumental, while John gets his mojo workin’ and tells everybody that this “highway king is gonna Ride Again!”

 

We had two favorites, too.  John’s got his eye on a voodoo woman, and looks for a “Mojo Hand,” a black cat bone, and the always-popular John The Conqueroo to get on her good side!  It’s set over a stop-time beat, with killer harp fills.  And, the set-closer, “Bad Gasoline,” was cut on a vintage Wilcox Gay Recordio and waxed straight to a 78 RPM!  It’s just John and his slide, and it’s as decadently-raucous as you’d want, full of double-entendres’ regarding “gettin’ no spark from your coil,” and the nightly need to “check your oil!!”

 

Studebaker John will tell you right off that he’s old-school and proud of it, but he “ain’t no fool” when it comes to layin’ down a solid groove “that’ll give you such a thrill that you just can’t get your fill!”  “Kingsville Jukin” is a set that is sho’ nuff keepin’the faith!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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