Mikey Junior review…March 27, 2014…

MIKEY JUNIOR

TRAVELING SOUTH

SWING NATION/VIZZTONE SNCD 388014

TRAVELING SOUTH–NOBODY DOES IT LIKE ME–MORNING ON MY WAY–MILL TAVERN–KATIE LYNN–BAD TIME BLUES–THE CHEAT–YOU–SHE’S GOOD AT BEING BAD–PLEASE COME BACK–WRONG NUMBER–TRYING TO DO THE BEST I CAN

Mikey Junior burst onto the national scene about twelve years ago, and, with his spirited vocals, infectious stage personality, and incredible harp chops, those who wonder about the future of the blues harp need not worry.  With seven albums in his discography already, the good folks at Vizztone are proud to release his eighth, “Traveling South,” produced by Dave Gross, who adds guitar throughout.

Dave’s old-school techniques give this one a swampy, vintage feel, too.  On several cuts the arrangements are rather sparse, allowing Mikey’s vocals and harp ample room to shine, and especially on his chromatic work.  He channels the swagger of Muddy on “Nobody Does It Like Me,” and heads on down to “Mill Tavern” to drink (and fight!) his baby off his mind, since she’s been gone “fifteen days and fourteen nights!”  Kudos on this one to the stompin’ percussion work of Michael Bram, giving this one that brooding vibe.  Another no-good female gets her walkin’ papers in “The Cheat,”  where Mikey “sees thru your pretty disguise,” as his harp trills and fills keep the groove goin’ strong.  He closes the set with a sweet slice of Delta acoustic blues, spinning the tale of a man who faces much adversity, but is always “Trying To Do The Best I Can.”

We had two favorites, too.  Mikey finds a real ‘good-time” girl in the form of “Katie Lynn,” and sings of her many virtues over a midtempo rhumba groove.  And, the cheatin’ lover returns in perhaps the set’s best cut, “Bad Time Blues.”  Mikey’s harp is on fire, and this one has cool dual guitar from Dave Gross and Dean Shot that gives it a really cool, West Side/Magic Sam feel.

Vizztone Records has become one of the industry standouts in introducing fresh, young talent to the world of contemporary blues.  Add Mikey Junior to that list, and enjoy “Traveling South!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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