Back To Reviews page

Johnny Drummer - Rockin’ in the Juke Joint

Earwig Music

I had the good fortune to see Johnny Drummer and the Starliters at a Chicago Blues Festival after-set at the Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven Foundation fundraiser at 2120 South Michigan Avenue in 2007 , and his 2006 Earwig release, Rockin’ In the Juke Joint, brings back many pleasant memories from that show. Since then, he’s been noticed by Detroit’s Big City Rhythm and Blues magazine and noted blues writer Matt Socey over in Indianapolis at the Nuvo alternative weekly. \Rockin’ in the Juke Joint is an exceptional CD of post-war Chicago blues, and the title cut, “You’re Breaking Me Down,” and “Working With Your Mojo,” and “Have Your Fun” are my favorites on this CD. Johnny’s a regular at Lee’s Unleaded Blues on Chicago’s far South Side (also the title of one of his other two Earwig CDs), and his electronic keyboard complements the spot-on lead guitar work of “Al Guitar” Short nicely. I looked up Johnny’s April schedule online and noticed that he’s got a lock on Saturday nights at Lee’s Unleaded Blues.

I’ve never seen a six-foot portable electronic keyboard played like a guitar before checking out Johnny Drummer, but in his capable hands, it more than works. Thanks in part to tutelage from Junior Wells early in his career, and Johnny's own mastery of the Mississippi saxophone, Johnny plays some pretty mean harp parts on this CD, too. On Rockin’ in the Juke Joint, Johnny’s got a full band that includes Diane Madison, Theresa Davis and Kay Reed on background vocals on several cuts, and this CD offers a full, rich, big-band sound that’s a solid counterpoint to the smaller, blues trio format that seems to be gaining steam in many national blues markets. If you're looking for some great South Side Chicago blues action, look no further than, and pick up Johnny Drummer's CDs at

Johnny was there, dapper as the classy bluesman that he is, at the first-ever Illinois Blues Blast awards show last November at Buddy Guy’s Legends, and I hope he’ll join the jam onstage at the next show.

Reviewer Eric Steiner is President of the Washington Blues Society in Seattle, Washington. The Society was the recipient of the 2009 Keeping the Blues Alive Award in the blues organization category. He can be reached at

  To submit a review or interview please contact:

Home  |  Contact  |  Submit Your Blues News - Advertise with
 Copyright - 2007 - Design by: