FREE Subscription - For more information  CLICK HERE



Back To Reviews page

Boogie Bone - Pro-Bone-O

Bone Daddy Records

12 tracks - Total time: 46:28

Portland Oregon’s Boogie Bone is a versatile and accomplished blues quintet with a flair for originality, and their CD, Pro-Bone-O, is unimpeachable testimony to that. Musically, Pro-Bone-O ranges across both acoustic and electric blues, and even modern jazz in the last track, “One Day.” The 12 tracks on the CD glide effortlessly from one style to another, and the band incorporates influences from modern rock, rockabilly, and James Brown percussive-horn soul into its efforts. All 12 songs here are original, penned by the band’s guitarist, Steven Dee Williams, in collaboration with Jason R. Pope, Pro-Bone-O’s associate producer and graphic designer.

In addition to Williams, who also plays keyboards, Boogie Bone’s personnel consists of Howlin’ Jake Johnson, vocals; Steve Snyder, another keyboardist, who especially shines here on acoustic and amplified blues harp, tenor and alto saxes, and on “One Day,” flute; and the rhythm section of drummer Todd “Spud” Stevens and bassist Henry Gavaldon. Jake Johnson’s moniker, “Howlin’,” is somewhat of a misnomer—while he can cry loudly with raging passion, he can also mourn softly, with his vocals consistently providing the full range of appropriate emotions across the variegated songs here.

While most of Pro-Bone-O’s lyrics are on the darker side of blues explorations, descents into impassioned desperation, regret and wonderment at mistreatment, tracks 2 and 8, “Got it Made” and “Good Times” respectively, are felicitously upbeat, celebrating on “Got It Made” an “OK-looking white boy” who has it made, while “Good Times” regales with the boys gathering together for a night in the bar, replete with bar noise and the waitress taking orders, giving last call. Williams and Pope have a way with truly striking lyrical imagery throughout: punctuating track 6, “How Blue Are You,” with reference to the lives of Robert Johnson, Magic Sam and Stevie Ray Vaughn; the rueful “I’ll write a song making fun of you” on the slow blues lamentation, “Why,” track 5; “You’re too young to die/but you’re too old to die young” thematic expression of track 7, “Too Old To Die Young;” the pointed “you smell like Jim” reproach to the cheating lover on track 11, “It Don’t Matter;” and the rollicking “making jokes about our sisters and our mothers” on “Good Times.”

Notable musical approaches grace several tracks: the acoustic country sound of chugging, train-like harmonica with acoustic guitar of the opening track, “Deep Black Water;” the rockabilly feel of track 2’s “Got It Made;” the classic 1950s feel of track 10’s slow blues ballad, “It Don’t Matter;” the equally 1950s rocking rhumba of track 9, “Inside Out;” the melancholy modal acoustic blues of “Too Old To Die Young;” the back-to basics simplicity of track 3’s ‘The Preacher,” with its elemental hand-clapping percussion and its guitar-and-harp interplay that’s reminiscent of the early collaborations of Muddy Waters and Little Walter; and the decidedly modern-rock guitar featured on “How Blue Are You.” Reed-instrument virtuoso Steve Snyder peppers track 4, “Stranded,” with a sax-percussive riff that’s classic James Brown, which also features the Steven Dee Williams mimicking a coffee percolator sound on his guitar. This same James Brown horn percussion is again adapted by Snyder effectively on the rocking “It Don’t Matter.” Both Williams and Snyder are extensively featured on solos, and organs and piano are also part of the musical background featured on Pro-Bone-O, all making for an unusual display of excellent taste in arrangement, musical and vocal virtuosity, and notably extensive variety of different musical styles and genre-crossing approaches throughout. This is what makes Boogie Bone stand out decisively: not just the musical variety, but the ability to play each of the variegated songs well. Pro-Bone-O is just a very accomplished CD from a very accomplished and original band.

Jason Pope’s graphic art aptly complements the musical art, both in its originality and in its technical excellence. The CD sleeve cover adapts the Ramones’ use of the official U.S. eagle-and shield seal as its logo to depict for Boogie Bone its own logo, one graphically emphasizing hellfire, skeletons, guitar and sax. This thematic emphasis carries on in Pope’s artwork for the sleeve tray, with its devil’s head and the band playing in the flames of hell, while the artwork on the CD itself pictures a grinning young man holding up a recording contract. All adding to Pro-Bone-O a felicitous artistic dimension to match its felicitous musical dimension.

Boogie Bone’s present fans are called Boneheads, and Pro-Bone-O can be expected to add more Boneheads to the ranks; for this CD is certainly no bonehead course, but truly at the advanced graduate level of creative explorations in contemporary blues-based musical approaches.

Reviewer George "Blues Fin Tuna" Fish hails from Indianapolis, Indiana, home of blues legends Yank Rachell and Leroy Carr. He has written a regular music column for several years. He wrote the liner notes for Yank Rachell’s Delmark album, Chicago Style. He has been a blues and pop music contributor for the left-wing press as well, and has appeared in Against the Current and Socialism and Democracy.

To submit a review or interview please contact:

For more information please contact:


Home  |  Contact  |  Submit Your Blues News - Advertise with Blues Blast Magazine
 Copyright - Blues Blast Magazine
2010    Design by: Moxi Dawg Design