Carlos Del Junco - Steady Movin’
Northern Blues Music
The latest Northern Blues release from Canadian (via Havana) harp player Carlos Del Junco features 11 songs that cut across a range of harp styles. Carlos has taken home the hardware seven times at the Canadian Maple Blues Awards in that blues society’s 12 year history and he received the Best of the Blues Award from Toronto’s Now Magazine in 2005.
Early on in his career, Carlos received a Juno Nomination (the Canadian Grammy) for his Big Boy release in 1998 and he was Jazz Report Magazine’s Blues Musician of the Year in 1996. In 1993, he won the Hohner World Harmonica Championship in Germany by earning gold meals in the diatonic blues and diatonic jazz competitions.
That’s some serious street harp cred in my book. Awards aside, I always look for the artist’s latest CD to reaffirm a continuing commitment to the blues. On Steady Movin,’ Carlos shows me that his lifelong dedication to the Mississippi Saxophone has paid off.
There’s solo, deep-South blues, post-war blues, and LA-swing blues, plus a nod to the ever-popular (I’d like to think it’s due to the Pulp Fiction soundtrack) surf blues.
At first, I didn’t care much for the surf-inflected blues of “Dull Blade,” but each time I listened to how the song featured Carlos’ playing balanced against Denis Keldie’s keyboards and Kevin Briet’s all-over-the-frets guitar styles, I liked it more and more. Suffice it to say that I play it for my friends in the Washington Blues Society to shake things up at my house parties now and again.
It takes a formidable blues talent to think he (or she) can update Sonny Boy Williamson’s (the second) “Cruising Down the River Rhine,” and I’m pleased to report that Carlos is more than up to the task. Like the original 1964 LP on Storyville, Carlos keeps the groove going with well-positioned solos, keeping time snapping his fingers, all a capella. The fat-toned harp of “Jersey Bounce” recalls LA-tinged swing blues rather than ol’ Blue Eyes, but it’s an example of just how versatile Carlos is with his band, consisting of Kevin Breit on guitar, John Juul Andersen and Marc Rogers on drums and bass, and Denis Keldie on keys.
The set’s closer, “Diddle It,” also landed on the label’s third sampler, The Future of the Blues, Volume 3, one of the most diverse blues samplers around, like their predecessors. If “Diddle It” doesn’t land on every blues radio show touched by the Internet, I will be sorely disappointed.
Full disclosure: Northern Blues’ Fred Litwin included my endorsement on a little sticker that adorns Volume 3, but don’t take my word for it. Listen to that compilation and tell me that Northern Blues isn’t stretching the boundaries of the blues.
Reviewer Eric Steiner is the President of the Washington Blues Society, the proud recipient of a 2009 Keeping the Blues Alive Award from the Blues Foundation. For more information, you can email Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit www.wablues.org.