Kingsville Jukin' is the third of Studebaker John's collections exploring the golden years of Chicago blues. As with 2010's That's The Way You Do and 2012's aptly-named Old School Rockin,' John's quest for authenticity - the way it was done on the Windy City's famed Maxwell Street back in the day - results in a collection that packs a viciously visceral punch.
First, the backstory - yes, John (real name John Grimaldi) really does drive a Studebaker (formerly a Lark, currently a 1963 Silver Hawk). And yes, he did come up on famed Maxwell Street, site of Chicago's gritty, open-air market where live blues was an integral part of the social fabric. He started on harmonica and played drums in local rock' n' roll bands until he caught a show one night featuring Hound Dog Taylor and J. B. Hutto. Dedicating himself to the blues, he hung out on the street and in the joints, soaking up the music and the atmosphere while honing his chops and learning his musical lessons from the masters.
Dedication pays off, and John is not only an absolute monster on the humble harmonica and an utterly ferocious slide guitarist, he's also a thoroughly convincing vocalist and a fine songwriter, responsible for all of Kingsville Jukin's generous sixteen tracks.
Returning again, too, are the Maxwell Street Kings - guitarist Rick Kreher (who spent time with Muddy Waters in the 80's) and drummer Steve Cushing (host of NPR's long-running Blues Before Sunrise program). Holding down the bottom is bassist Bob Halaj.
While the material is all new, there's nothing here that would have sounded at all out of place back in the day, musically or sonically. Vintage equipment - old tube amps (tweed for style!), ribbon mics, analog tape, and lots of distortion - ensures that everything's righteously raw and raucous.
Song titles are pretty indicative - "Mississippi To Chicago," "When They Played The Real Blues," "Howlin' In The Moonlight," "Cold Black Night," and "Mojo Hand" - but there's lots of variety and more than enough subtlety in the instrumental interplay to keep things interesting. It may all be cranked up to eleven, but Grimaldi and friends know more than a thing or two about how to engage and hold an audience.
This is wonderful stuff, gritty and menacing and dangerous. Absolutely essential!