John Clifton review…April 30, 2019…..

JOHN CLIFTON

IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE

RIP CAT RECORDS  RIC 1901

I’M LEAVING YOU BABY–IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE–IF IT AIN’T ME–COOL SPOT IN HELL–POOR BOY–KEEP IT CLEAN–JUNKIE WOMAN BLUES–FOUR YEARS AGO–AIN’T SPENDING NO MORE MONEY–SO TIRED I COULD CRY–HONKY TONK NIGHT TIME MAN

West Coast blues harp blaster John Clifton rocked the contemporary blues world with his 2018 release of “Nightlife.”  The sophomore follow-up is here, and it is equally impressive.  It is “In The Middle Of Nowhere,” eleven cuts that feature five John originals and six well-done covers.  The band that plays with John at clubs and festivals are backing him here, and that camaraderie between everyone gives this one that cool “live in the studio” feel.  Also, John transcends a lot of genres,’ including jump blues, R & B, jazz, and even country.

The set opens with the strong Chicago-styled beat of “I’m Leaving You Baby,” with John getting in an extended harp solo mid-song.  The title cut is another showcase for his harp skills, as he laments his upbringing in that “one room country shack In The Middle Of Nowhere!”   Scott Abeyta’s chicken-scratchin’ guitar is the fuel for the fire of one of our favorites, the rapid-fire boogie of “Keep It Clean,” which gives way to the country-styled, acoustic, “Jumkie Woman Blues, with that great big bag of tricks!”  Speaking of country and blues, dig what John does with the Hag’s “Honky Tonk Night Time Man,” which closes the set and serves as our other favorite.  John turns this one into a hi-octane twang fest, with guitar from Roger Perry, and piano from Bartek Szopinski.

One can tell that John Clifton and the band had a lot of fun putting this one together.  Everybody’s in the groove, and John’s harp and overall showmanship makes “In The Middle Of Nowhere” a set that’ll make you wanna get up and boogie!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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