Donald Ray Johnson and Gas Blues Band review…November 10, 2016…

DONALD RAY JOHNSON

AND GAS BLUES BAND

BLUESIN’ AROUND

BAD LUCK–BLUESIFYIN–AIN’T SUPERSTITIOUS–NINETY PROOF–SHE’S FRENCH–BIG REAR WINDOW–DISTANT–SHE’S DRESSING TRASHY–WATCHING YOU–SHOULD’VE BEEN GONE–YOU’RE THE ONE FOR ME

Donald Ray Johnson, born in Texas and now residing in Canada, is a sho’ nuff Grammy-winning drummer.  Yup–as a member of the disco group A Taste Of Honey, they hit it big in 1978 with “Boogie Oogie Oogie,” and won the Grammy the next year as Best New Artist.  Lately, Donald Ray has been embracing the blues as lead vocalist for the Gas Blues Band, founded by guitarist Gaspard Ossikian.  Their latest set is a bouncy bunch of originals and favorite covers they’ve played in front of festival and club crowds over the last five years.  Simply titled “Bluesin Around,”  Johnson, Gaspard, and company combine elements of Muddy, B. B. and T-Bone Walker over the course of this set, which is built for a rockin’ good time!

Up first is a jump-blues romp, and one of B. B.’s early hits, “Bad Luck is falling down like rain,” built around crisp guitar and a sharp, stop-time horn arrangement.  Donald Ray goes “Bluesifyin” on Joe Louis Walker’s tale of the greats, as Donald name-checks Lightnin’ Hopkins, Howlin’ Wolf, Hooker, Eddie Taylor, and a host of others.  The band gets down in a Texas groove with Donald Ray talkin’ ’bout that woman with a “Big Rear Window with the shutters open wide!”  Donald Ray’s original, “Should’ve Been Gone,” is a funky shot of contemporary blues with killer sax from Samuel Dumont.  The set closes as it began, with another swingin’ tune, this one written by Lucky Peterson,  “You’re The One For Me!”

We had two favorites, too.  Donald Ray gets his slow groove burning strong with the deep-blues of a man whose lover has long gone, and he’s got “Ninety Proof Evidence” that he’s doin’ just fine without her!  And, another cool rocker finds Donald raving about a  lover who’s “Dressing Trashy,” “cause “she’s been at home much too long!”

Gaspard and the other players are world-class talents, and Donald Ray Johnson brings a true soul man’s perspective to this material.  It makes for a sweet ride for us fans, whenever you’re ready to do a little “Bluesin’ Around!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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