John’s Blues Picks Dec 2015 – Reno Jack The Bear
Reno Jack The Bear Lightning Fried (Hwy 11) | renojackthebear.com
A veteran of Toronto’s cow punk scene, Reno Jack has lately teamed up with Aitikokan’s blues woman Sunday Wilde. Her blues influence is apparent on this recent disc, with various styles from his lengthy performing history coming out as a very pleasing blend. Reno Jack plays bass and has a great, low voice, sometimes described as ‘barbed wire wrapped in velvet’.
The opening, title song, is a case in point with a fairly standard rockabilly tune turning into a blues-rock highlight with a solid harp break from none other than Watermelon Slim. The song tells the story of a tornado touching down. “Say Self” is a delightful Jimmy Reed style blues about changing his lifestyle that goes seamlessly country for the chorus. More harp from Slim too. “Salt” is a rocker on the evils of this particular additive with Slim on dobro. You might and perhaps should think twice before reaching for the shaker after hearing this one. Another highlight is “Slow Dancing”, a song by Johnny Lovesin. It’s a song from his time playing in that band. There’s also a Handsome Ned tune from those days here as well. “Gee Oogle It Baby” shows he’s up on modern times as he laments the internet’s influence. Slim’s back on harp. The brevity that twitter needs leads to some very clever rhymes in “All Atwitter”. Ms. Wilde adds harmony vocals and piano where needed. There’s a jazz piece and some folk & country tunes among the blues in a rather impressive debut CD that showcases a dry & witty songwriter.
It’s not hard to see that Watermelon Slim and Reno Jack would get along just fine. ‘Born in the fifties, schooled in the sixties and a survivor of the seventies’ and now his first album – maybe some things are meant to come later. Check out www.hwy11records.com, it has a bio and links to other useful sites.