Motor City Josh with Special Guest Jason Ricci - Forty Four - a Tribute to Howlin’ Wolf
13 Tracks; 45 minutes 50 seconds; Suggested
Style: 60’s Chicago Blues meets 70’s Rock-n-Roll Blues
If you want to set the mood (or if you’re itching for some background music to pair with an existing mood) that recreates those good time feelings we’ve all unabashedly and publicly displayed at an outdoor blues festival like Helena or the Juke Joint Festival, then pop yourself in some Forty Four. Josh’s 10th CD release takes the best of Howlin’ Wolf’s songs from Chess Record’s songwriter Willie Dixon on tracks 2-6 and 9-12, paired them with Chester Burnett himself, aka Howlin’ Wolf’s song writing on Tracks 1 and 7 and added a final dose of St. Louis Jimmy on Track 13 to help you set your own true blues festival or Chicago-Delta mood any time anywhere.
Title Track 1 Forty Four is a southern rock Howlin’ Wolf twist. I guarantee if you played this in a college-kid packed beer venue, they’d be hootin’ and hollerin’ with a few ah-hoo’s of their own, not connecting the fact that Josh is passing a blues torch. That’s the beauty of blues root music, now, isn’t it--turning it on to our general unsuspecting younger generation who only thinks they don’t like blues? And since Josh had blues and gospel loving parents who taught him well, he’s a great one to be passing the torch.
The Howlin’ Wolf-man grabs your attention—with a little clever Ford Music Company technology—when he intro’s Track 2’s Spoonful with “you damn sure got the blues, you damn sure got the blues”! You know you’re about to get the real deal Delta authentication with Howlin’ Wolf himself interjecting in his famous husky scratchy voice “I’m gonna tell ya what the blues is, when you ain’t got no money you got the blues.” Jason Ricci knows how to adorn the track (and all the others) with period perfected harmonica licks that compliment Josh’s vocal and guitar phrasing while keeping Howlin’ Wolf proud all the while.
Track 3-Allman Brothers look out; Josh just took Evil is Goin’ On and rocked it out. I can visualize the late night outdoor festival crowds dancing with beers held high in the air—and a Bic lighter or two…Josh definitely is deserving of the coveted end of the night line up where it all hangs lose. Come on, all you festival producers/promoters/bookers..
Track 4-Back Door Man—what can I say, I’m back in Clarksdale on this one…and hey, I like a back door man, “men don’t know, but the little girls—they understand.” Ok, and Ricci, you know how to give Josh his props yet give us listeners that blues harp we crave.
300 Lbs of Joy, Track 5, makes me realize just how confident Howlin’ Wolf was in his stature, presence and size! He actually was a 6 foot tall 300 lb man known for intimidation entertainment because he had the chops, licks, and attitude to bring it. Josh just wanted you guys to know this--300 pounds of muscle and man, this is it, look what you get!
From the great piano solo in Track 6’s I Ain’t Superstitious to (one of my personal Howlin’ Wolf favs) Track 8’s Smokestack Lightnin where the ah-hoos and ooh-hoos make you do the nasty to all the best of the best allowing us to reconnect to Howlin’ Wolf (and if you don’t, then Josh makes sure you will with the likes of Sittin’ On Top Of The World. Little Red Rooster, Built For Comfort (People Magazine would have a field day with Howlin’ Wolf because don’t call him fat—he’s built for comfort not speed—Jessica could have used your help man!), Meet Me in the Bottom, Wang Dang Doodle to final track 13’s Goin’ Down Slow—you’ll be happy that Josh revealed his truest Delta-gone-Chicago-Blues influence while keeping the blues alive in today’s not-so-easy world of blues proponents and torch-passers. Thanks Josh! And for the readers: since you’re already at your computer reading this, go ahead and check out Josh’s website www.motorcityjosh.com to see where you can catch a show, buy a CD or book him at your next festival. Thanks for supporting live blues music everyone; oh, and don’t forget to buy his CD while you’re there.
Belinda Foster is a Columnist and Contributing Writer for Greenville SC Magazine “Industry Mag” and former manager of Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’Blues. She currently books blues-rock-jam musicians and is a devoted promoter and supporter of live blues root music and history, making frequent trips to “The Crossroads” and Clarksdale Mississippi, birthplace of the blues. Her column “The Upstate Blues Report” can be found on line at www.industrymag.net