The good folks at Bongo Boy are soon releasing a new album called HOMESTEAD VOLUME ONE. The name intrigued me and when I read that this album is comprised of tracks that fall under the genre of Americana I knew I had to give this a listen. When I think of Americana I think of The Band (even though I do believe some of their members were Canadian eh). Songs like Simon and Garfunkel’s The Boxer also come to mind. The icing on the cake was when I read that a couple of tracks on this LP are by Gar Francis. Gar is a killer player. So with hopes of songs reminiscent of The Band and the brilliance of Sir Gar I cued up the MP3s in my trusty audio player and sat down to enjoy.
Track 1 – Kathryn Shipley – Shine Your Love – Kathryn starts out with some really nice soulful keys. I really am feeling a Band groove here. Then the vocals come in. Man, she has a great voice! The background singers definitely add to the soulful vibe. Then it dawns on me this is the stuff all the great Motown singers grew up singing. This song could be from a church service, albeit not the kind I attended as a kid. This song would fit into a church service where the people rock out. You have to listen to the piano runs in this track. The piano, with the organ in the background, the wicked guitar on the edge, the backup singers all provide an outstanding platform for Kathryn to absolutely wail! I dig it.
Track 2 – Hunter Sealy – One Family Strong – This folks is what makes American culture
dominate worldwide. Hunter has penned a very soulful tune that extols the virtues of America.
The name says it all, Americans should be one family. The image brought to mind is in the aftermath of 911. America was one country united, which is a far cry from today when half the country believes Obama was from Kenya and had the goal of destroying the United States and the other half of the country believes that Trump is a Nazi who wants to bring back the gas chambers. As a general rule, I try to avoid politics, but anything that can help heal a divided nation is, indeed, worthwhile. When you add the fact that Hunter has a killer voice and the music just rocks, you have something that everyone should listen to. Thank you Hunter.
Track 3 – Tammi T & Klyve with Keith Hines Production – The Runaways – Okay, I have to admit when I first saw the name The Runaways I thought this might be a track from Joan Jett’s old band. It isn’t. Nevertheless this is a good track. The music is well played and the vocals are outstanding. The artillery sound effects are interesting.
Track 4 – Bobby Rue – I Like The Days – I dig this song! It is just such a massive hillbilly rant. The guitar smokes in a twangy sort of way. I can imagine Grandpa Jones (Does anyone else remember Hee Haw?) getting down to this groove. Music aside, Bobby does make some valid social commentary when he attacks the beast of political correctness. Being naturally grouchy myself I can say wholeheartedly that I too like the days when you could insult someone and not get sued! Bobby, I would love to see your live show.
Track 5 – Gar Francis – Step X Step – Sir Gar opens up with a catchy, yet soulful jam. What is that instrument that is popping in and out with lightning leads? Is it a guitar or a mandolin?
The constant, basic beat keeps the listeners head moving while the strings and keys entertain themselves. Over the top is Gar’s voice which is both melancholy and menacing at the same time.
Track 6 – Deborah Henriksson – Trains – I first heard Deborah on a New Age album and her voice blew me away. Deborah, I am still blown away. You have a beautiful voice that I could listen to for hours. Your voice combined with the exceptional players behind you create a memorizing track. Thank you.
Track 7 – JD Carroll – I Guess I’ll Never Know – I like this song. I am reminded of the story telling of Jim Croce. The music is good, but what really attracts me to this song is the story. I find myself wondering how it will end. The lyrics sung over what sounds like a violin are nothing short of haunting.
Track 8 – Nick Marr – Hold Over – This track has a huge Tom Petty groove. That’s cool, I like Tom Petty. There is no question that Nick is putting his heart and soul into this track. All in all this is a very strong effort that deserves a listen.
Track 9 – Paul Michael Tondreau – Keep The Fire Burning – This track starts out with an acoustic guitar setting the tempo. The drums and bass pick up the vibe while Paul’s unique voice blasts over the top. I find myself drawn to the rhythm section. (I can’t help it, as an old drummer I can tell this guy is just grooving and grinning with every fill.)
Track 10 – STEEL – Love Is – My first impression of this song is that there is a Gordon
Lightfoot vibe here. The main difference is I cannot stand Gordon Lightfoot’s music and I really like this song. Steel (Is that the singer’s name?) has a powerful voice; he not only sounds good, but his voice demands your attention. Steel isn’t just a voice though, whoever is playing the strings is a monster player! All in all, this is an excellent track!
Track 11 – Bobby Rue – Country Living – Bobby is back! I dig this guy. Tell me he isn’t just having a blast. I am a sucker for twangy guitar. Full disclosure: I used to hate Country music. I was a Punk rock snob. Then Hank 3 showed me the error of my ways. I really like some Country now and include Bobby Rue on the list. Bobby, if you have a full LP out, I would love to review it.
Track 12 – Greg Guba – Only Me – Greg is a soulful cat. I like the minimalist aspects of this track. The guitar is simply pretty. The drummer is spot on, no flash, but rock solid. The vocals are good. The Dylanesque harp puts it over the top in my book. It is so simple, yet there it is taking a lead as if the harp player is saying “So what? It’s only me.” Great song Greg, I really enjoyed listening to your music.
Track 13 – Barley Station – Just Begun – Barley Station is a mellow bunch. For some reason I am reminded of Bread. This is a very pretty song. It would be great driving music when you know you will be going through a speed trap. The vocals are good and the music beautiful. I like the percussion work. I feel relaxed after listening to this song.
Track 14 – Michael Resin – Send Me To My Grave – Watch out! The massive grinding energy of this song will hit you like a punch from Floyd Mayweather. The best way to describe this song is WICKED.
Imagine the scene in Crossroads where Ralph Macchio is battling Steve Vai, this song has that much intensity! Michael, you rock brother!
Track 15 -Lisa Coppola – Stuck To My Shoe – Good God I love women who rock! I have said it before and will say it again anyone who thinks women can’t rock is an idiot. Man, I love Lisa’s voice. As good as her voice is her attitude is even better. Combine her pipes with a massively jamming band and you have a blues based/Country anthem! I REALLY want to see Lisa’s live show.
Track 16 – Bobby Rue – Come Along Baby – Bobby is back and this time his ax man is opening up. What can I say? This is a great band. I find myself keeping time with his drummer. The breaks are all exactly where you expect to find them and they allow a space for the guitar to scream. The only thing I don’t like about the song is that it fades out during a jam. C’mon man, couldn’t you have let him wail a bit more?
So folks, what is the bottom line? Simply put this is one of the best albums Bongo Boy has released to date. I hope to hear full length albums from many of these artists in the future. This album is a worthy addition to any collection, I know I will be listening to this in the car. – The Grouch
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