Ivas John review…May 31, 2016…

IVAS JOHN

GOOD DAYS A COMIN’

RIGHT SIDE UP RECORDS

GOIN’ BACK TO ARKANSAS–HERE I AM–ROLL MISSISSIPPI–DARK AS A DUNGEON–CAN’T HELP BUT WONDER WHERE I’M BOUND–GREENVILLE TRESTLE HIGH–ALL ALONG–THINGS AIN’T BEEN THE SAME–KEEP YOUR TRAIN MOVIN’–PAYDAY BOOGIE–WRONG ROAD AGAIN–SUNDAY MORNING BLUES

Ivas John is the son of Lithuanian immigrants.  Their ancestral folk music was his first exposure to music, but it was replaced as he got older by the jazz, blues, and folk sounds spinning on the family turntable, and he fell in love with playing guitar.  He studied at Southern Illinois University, soon moving from electric to acoustic, immersing himself in the fingerpicking and flatpicking sounds of Jimmie Rogers and Doc Watson.  He followed the Mississippi River and moved down to Cape Girardeau, and those acoustic sounds became his passion, as did his urge to do an all-unplugged set.  The result is “Good Days A Comin,” twelve cuts that blend eight originals, four co-written with his father, and four classic covers.

Along for this sweet journey are Robert Bowlin and Tim Crouch on fiddle and mandolin, David Davis on mandolin, and Gary and Roberta Gordon on dobro and harmony vocals, respectively.  This set is a fine melding of Delta blues and Appalachian folk, and kicks off with a lively, ragtimey “love story,” of sorts, as Ivas cuts his losses with a lover, and is “Goin’ Back To Arkansas!”  Excellent fretwork is the order on the story of a young man coming of age watching the trains “roll across that Greenville Trestle High.”

His covers are exquisitely tasteful, and we especially enjoyed the story of a man with a lover to whom he “just can’t say no to, so here I go down that Wrong Road Again.”   And, he and fiddle man Robert Bowlin bring to life Merle Travis’ stark tale of life in the coal mines, where it’s “Dark As A Dungeon.”

We had two favorites, too.  “Roll Mississippi” is Ivas’ autobiography of sorts, talkin’ bout the Father of the Waters “from the top of the map all the way down to New Orleans!”  And, he’s got everyone’s favorite day of the week down pat, with the uptempo “let’s do the Payday Boogie, ’til Monday morning comes!”

For us, the mark of a great fingerpicker is his ability to literally “talk” with the strings, plucking out the melody lines as you go along.  Ivas John’s playing is crisp, clean, and clear, and his vocals are equally impressive.  Sho’ nuff, there are “Good Days A Comin” for him!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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