From Blues Blast magazine

JP Blues - I Will Not Go Quietly

Midnight Circus Records

www.jpblues.com

12 songs; 54:55 minutes; Splendid

Styles: Contemporary Blues-Rock; Blues

Assistant Producer for hire! - Hire me to select the song order for your next CD. For the second reviewed CD in a row, I disagree with the placement of the first song. Seriously, though, what do I know about it?

I just feel the first song is critical to getting a listener to hear more of the CD’s songs. I can be completely wrong, but I think there are overly busy radio programmers and reviewers who listen to a first song and make instant value judgements (sort of like first impressions when meeting a new person). That approach may be totally unfair, but, programmers and reviewers receiving hundereds of albums per year do get CD and sensory overload.

The first song, “As the Crow Flies,” on 21 year old John “JP Blues” Pagano’s second album screams, “This is a Rock CD without a Blue note on it.” That is clearly not the case, but if one never moves past the first song, he would never know. “NEXT!”

From Long Island NY, JP started playing guitar at eight. Recognized as a prodigy by legendary bluesman Sam "Bluzman" Taylor, Pagano was schooled on the Blues and life. By eleven, JP played throughout the country with Taylor, even playing large festivals and opening for major artists.

With experience under his belt, JP began to lay the foundation for the JP Blues band together with industry veteran Drummer Pat Atkins and an amazing young bassist John Young. The first project was competing in the Long Island Blues Society Blues Challenge. Winning hands down, they represented Long Island in the Blues Foundations “International Blues Challenge” in Memphis TN.

Following his debut, “Die Happy,” Pagano features five originals on “I Will Not Go Quietly,” a song by studio mate and harper Frank Latorre, and covers of Sam Taylor, Tampa Red, Tony Joe White, Henley/Kortchmar, and Eric Clapton. Joining Atkins and Young, nine studio guests appear including Albert Castiglia playing slide guitar on one song.

As muscular as the bare-arms-and-shoulders photos on the CD, the opener (“As the Crow Flies”) blasts off with JP singing over soaring Rock guitar chords reminiscent of REO Speedwagon. While not extraordinary, JP’s vocals are impressive throughout the album and especially on the title track “I Will Not Go Quietly” which takes the hard rock edge further.

“Poor Little Rich Girl” settles into a Funky outing with wah guitar and organ. Pagano sings about some female types he has undoubtedly encountered in “Lawn Guyland” NY.

Not until track seven, Tampa Red’s “Love Her with a Feeling,” do we reach any traditional Blues, a burning slow number with Albert Castiglia on stellar slide. While that one is my favorite, I also enjoyed Eric Clapton’s “Old Love” with great instrumentation and added background vocals by Georgia’s Caroline Aiken.

Both “At a Cost” and “Liar” open with great guitar hooks exemplary of JP's searing, soulful guitar throughout. I also enjoyed “In the City” for its emphasis on melody and rhythm and tasty harp work courtesy of Frank Latorre. Surprising acoustic guitar is found on the final track.

This infusion of hard Rock and traditional Blues is an interesting mixture, but no new ground is being broken here. However, a young Pagano and crew can be proud of their product, the soul in their music, and their efforts to soldier on while all around turn to Rap.

Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and longtime Blues Blast Magazine contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at www.wkccradio.org in Kankakee, IL.