Album Review from BluesBlast Magazine
By John Mitchell
This is the debut release from a band based in Pennsylvania. Formed five years ago, the band is axed round experienced guitarist Tim ‘The Perkolator’ Perks and young harmonica player Derek ‘Harmonica Slim’ Matteson, supported by Dave Young on bass and Sean McIntyre on drums; piano is added to three tracks by Adam Darer and B3 to one track by Eric Christian. The CD was produced by another harp player Mikey Junior who contributes some backing vocals alongside recording engineer Peter Richon, Tim, Derek and Dave. Tim and Derek share the lead vocals, Tim on eight songs, Derek on six, with one instrumental. Tim wrote seven songs, Derek three and there are five covers: Willie Dixon, Louis Myers, Otis Rush, Magic Sam and Little Walter– an impressive list indeed! The album was mastered by Dave Gross at his Fat Rabbit Studios in New Jersey.
Tim’s biography reveals that he grew up in England but relocated to the USA years ago. He has played with many local acts and references a host of guitarists in a long list of influences – the Three Kings, T-Bone Walker and Chuck Berry amongst them. Derek only started playing harmonica in his early twenties but after seeing Mikey Junior and Steve Guyger he became obsessed with the instrument. The band’s gig list is extensive and, as well as playing a lot in their local area, they also tour and will be representing the Central Delaware Blues Society at the 2020 International Blues Challenge.
Both front men sing well, Derek having the slightly deeper voice and from the off this is a great release of traditional blues with no overplaying on harp or guitar. The originals are all solid, not a clunker amongst them: check out Derek’s swinging “South Street Shuffle” or his wailing harp on “Here I Am Again”, Tim’s dark and brooding tune which also has a fine guitar solo with hints of latin contained within it. The album opens with the driving “Trying So Hard”, followed by “Going To See My Baby”, a co-write between Derek and producer Mikey, an infectious tune with great rhythm work from Tim and a strong vocal and scintillating harp from Derek.
The band shows it can swing on two shorter tunes, both penned by Tim: “Can’t Keep A Good Man Down” swings like crazy and you can guess what “Jump With You Baby” is going to be from the title, the tune sounding a little like an old Sam Myers/Anson Funderburgh tune. “Sitting And Thinking” has more of a boogie sound over which Derek weaves some great patterns while “Leaving You” bounces along cheerfully, in contrast to the lyrics! Every proper blues band needs to show that it can handle a slow blues and here “Next To You” fits the bill perfectly while Derek’s closing “I’d Like To Thank You All” gives a shout out to the band’s long-term fans and supporters as Derek fires off salvoes of great harp underpinned by frantic piano.
The covers are well chosen to both represent the band’s influences and to offer listeners some tunes they will recognise whilst also avoiding some of the most frequently covered selections. Willie Dixon is represented by “Pretty Thing”, the rhythm section doing a good job with the Bo Diddley riff; “Keep On Loving Me Baby” is the choice from the Otis Rush songbook and Tim achieves a wonderfully light tone here on a fast-paced take; the churning rhythm of Magic Sam’s “Every Night And Every Day” is a great vehicle for some relaxed guitar and impressive harp work; every harp player owes a debt to Little Walter and Derek leads on harp and vocals on “Up The Line” which is the longest track on the album at just under five minutes, allowing Tim to include an excellent, fast-picking solo; Louis Myers’ instrumental “Top Of The Harp” is a feature for Derek.
This is a really enjoyable disc which could well be a contender for debut release of the year. It will certainly appeal to lovers of traditional blues and comes recommended from this reviewer.
Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK who enjoys a wide variety of blues and roots music, especially anything in the 'soul/blues' category. Favorites include contemporary artists such as Curtis Salgado, Tad Robinson, Albert Castiglia and Doug Deming and classic artists including Bobby Bland, Howling Wolf and the three 'Kings'. He gets over to the States as often as he can to see live blues.
Hey y'all I'm Harmonica Slim and I'd love to share the ride with you! Born and raised just outside of Philadelphia I grew up in a blue collar neighborhood where things are simple, the Eagles were a way life, and a good day meant playing hockey without getting in a fist fight with your buddy. I love it all, and its molded me into the passionate blues man I am today. The harp is my life, the blues is my savior, and the fans are why I exist to play it!
I began my journey with the blues at the the age of 24. By this point I had been playing harp for 2 years, but I really didn't know what I was doing. I wasn't raised with the blues on my radio and I had no sense of what harp players were supposed to sound like. Through trial and error I spent the first two years learning how to bend notes, play scales, and imitate the guitar riffs of players like Jimmy Page and Duane Allman. It wasn't until I walked into one of the best blues joints in my home city of Philadelphia that I heard a master of the instrument play it right. Mikey Junior who runs the famous Twisted Tail Blues Jam on Sundays was on stage with the house band giving me a true lesson of what the blues is all about. I heard tunes by Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Junior Wells, and original stuff by Mikey himself. Later I had the privilege of witnessing more mastery of the instrument from one of the east coast's kings of harp Steve Guyger and I knew the blues was my calling in life. Steve was as close to those old masters as I had ever heard and he still wows me to this day. Those moments were the inspiration for my journey, which has led me to become one of the finest harp players in the Philly area. I'm now very fortunate to call myself a member of the Pennsylvania Blues Hall of Fame and was the youngest to receive such an honor. We're now not only a regional act but also fortunate to tour as well! Come see what all the hype is about!
TIM "THE PERKOLATOR" PERKS
Growing up in England in the 1960’s I was introduced to blues at a young age via John Mayall’s “Beano” album with Eric Clapton. I have been a blues fan ever since and it has always been a huge source of inspiration to me. I am very fortunate to be living in the Bucks County area amid such a wealth of blues talent and even more fortunate and humbled to have shared the bandstand with so many of the areas great musicians and through this music I have established a number of wonderful friendships. From my fellow jammers to my fellow bandmates and all the of the awesome players that I have been lucky enough to rub shoulders with over the years, you inspire me so much one and all and I am forever grateful for not only the influence that you have had on my life but also for the opportunities you have given me. A wise man once said “the blues is a beautiful thing, who don’t know that”
As far as blues influences go , all of the masters who wrote the book on blues music and who sadly now have left us would appear on my list but in particular and in no particular order would be BB, Freddie and Albert King, T Bone Walker, Otis Rush, Little Walter, Big Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson 1 and 2, Junior wells, James Cotton, Robert Nighthawk, Little Willie John, Eddie Taylor, Louis Myers, Robert Lockwood, Luther Tucker and the great Magic Sam. There are a number of different styles of blues playing and I would always attempt to bring as much of those to the bandstand as possible. I love also New Orleans stylings and of course good old rock and roll!! Looking forward to making your acquaintance at one of our gigs!
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