Back Pack Jones review…March 8, 2014…

BACK PACK JONES

BETSY’S KITCHEN

SELF-RELEASED

RIPTIDE BABY–I’M JUST A MAN–FIXIN’ TO LEAVE–BAGGAGE–THE END–EVEN GOD SINGS THE BLUES–HEY DIDDLE RIDDLE–HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT–I GOT A GIRLFRIEND

Back Pack Jones are five extremely talented musicians from Springfield, IL, who combined forces to spread their love of the blues.  “Big Mike” Wallace is on vocals and percussion, Kirk Lonbom is the highly-expressive guitarist, Michael Baier is on bass and vocals, Wendell Day is on keys, and Harvey Horton is on drums and vocals.  Toss in a cool five-piece horn section, and, all together they have created a killer debut, nine originals that comprise “Betsy’s Kitchen,” which swings with quite a soulful sophistication, and is guaranteed to have you reaching for your dancin’ shoes!!

Keeping a relationship afloat nowadays is a tough exercise at best, and this band looks at various ways things can go right or implode.  Check out the swingin’ opener, the tale of a girlfriend who is always bringin’ Big Mike down, and making things “all about her.”  Sho’ nuff, she’s a “Riptide Baby, makin’ me drown!”    “I’m Just A Man” has our hero realizing his shortcomings, and asks his lover for a little compassion, set over a rhumba-ish beat and featuring a sweet B-3 and guitar solo at the bridge.

A deep slow blues spins a somber story of the trials and tribulations of today’s societal decay, so much so that “Even God Sings The Blues.”  “The End” follows a jazzy path, while the set closes with a rollicking ode to one of those truly “good girls,” “I Got a Girlfriend, who raises my temperature to 103!”

We had two favorites, too.  “Hey Diddle Riddle” quotes many favorite nursery rhymes over a minor-key riff that utilizes cool fiddle from Chenoa Alamu.  And,”Baggage,”  a hot shot of funk, again finds our hero admitting to his misgivings, but, he cleverly reminds his  paramour that, “my dear, you’ve got a closet, too!”

For five gyus who started out by just looking to have a good time playing the blues, Back Pack Jones have hit on a really good thing.  Do yourself a favor and go see what’s cookin’ in “Betsy’s Kitchen!”  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

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