Juke Joint Rambler
If you’re looking for pure down-in-the-alley, traditional blues played by masterful musicians in the right vein, look no further than Johnny Tanner’s debut recording Juke Joint Rambler. This is a spot-on, straight-to-the-core collection recorded over two sessions in California, and what’s most amazing about this is that these studio sessions took place back in 1997 in Pasadena and 2001 in Berkeley. Both feature stellar artists who are in themselves household names in any blues lover’s world: Junior Watson, Rusty Zinn, Billy Flynn, Fred Kaplan, Richard Innes, Larry Taylor, Randy Bermudes, and Jeff Turmes. Harmonica ace Johnny Tanner is no stranger himself, as a major force on the Phoenix blues scene, and in Seattle before that, he has put in more than forty years plying his trade. How in the world did these recordings sit on the shelf for more than fourteen years?
Song selections include a few of the standard fare when it comes to classic harmonica-fueled blues. There’re your Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf numbers, but Tanner really comes through with his original material. The pace bounces between West Coast jump and Chicago classic. The highlight of which must be his instrumental “Blue Vapor,” a slow, haunting tune perfect for a close-up-to-your-partner dance that can also send chills down your spine it is so spell-binding. “Run Around Woman” is about that partner that no matter how much you try to please or give to her, she is always telling you that you’re doing her wrong and she’s out all night making you want her back home. The original “Searchin’ The World Over” offers a distinct Jimmy Reed feel with its high harmonic tone. And how can you possibly look past the harmonica-piano duet of Tanner and Kaplan on Sonny Boy’s “Stop Breaking Down”?
This is a fine collection that runs the gamut of post-war blues to perfection. Nothing that will come across as new (after all these recordings have been on the shelf for fifteen plus years and are mostly covers), but it is highly enjoyable and will satisfy the most stringent of classical blues lovers and may make some new fans along the way, too.
Total Time: 44:40
I Got To Go / Lovey Dovey / Searchin’ The World Over / Bring Her Back To Me / I Done Got Over It / It Ain’t Right / Blue Vapor / Checking On My Baby / I Didn’t Know / Stop breaking Down / Run Around Woman / Nobody But You / Lighthouse For My Soul / Out Arizona Way