Saturday, March 30, 2013

Jason Vivone And The Billy Bats -- "Lather Rinse Repeat"

Jason Vivone And The Billy Bats came to my attention at the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival in Columbia MO in 2011. That Saturday I stumbled out of the BBQ judging tent with a serious meat overdose, sleepy and overstuffed by eating LOTS of ribs and brisket. On the stage down the street there was this band playing. As I drifted closer, I began to hear and feel an electric guitar and three vocalists and a banjo all ripping it up, all energy and loudness, humor and joy. The crowd was literally going crazy. My plan after judging BBQ was for a long nap, but I ended up staying and listening to this great band for their entire set. And ever since then, this Kansas City-based band has been a favorite.

The nine songs on Lather Rinse Repeat are originals by Jason, who also produced. The band is made up of Jason on vocals, guitar and harp, Matt Bustamante on drums, Jeremy Clark on bass, Paula Crawford on vocals and guitar, Imani Glascow on vocals and percussion, and Ben Hoppes on vocals and banjo. They employ several different styles--from the ominous boogie of "I Hear A Heartbeat" through old timey hokum blues of "Baby Fat" through an Elmore James-type slide number "The Nina, The Pinta, The Santa Maria." Over a Muddy Waters "Mannish Boy" vamp the band does "The Black Lone Ranger," a tribute to the Chicago legend the late James Ramsey, the blues singer who dressed, acted and lived like the mythical Lone Ranger. After that Vivone pays tribute to his baby in "One Hot Mother," and leads The Billy Bats through a Tex Mex number, "Photograph," and a hilarious Bo Diddly-esque turn on "Do The Nod." Then there is a short and off-the-wall drinking song rap number, "Liquid Diet," and then everything is wrapped up by the seven minute guitar and banjo "Medusa Blues," with a bass line that will recall Steely Dan's "Rikki, Don't Lose That Number."  

This band has serious chops, and they have made a really good cd, and a really funny one too, a quality sometimes missing in the blues. The more you hear it, the more you'll get the sly smiles and lyrical jokes. The instrumentation is unique because of the inventive ways Vivone and Crawford use their guitars and the presence of the banjo, and having three good vocalists makes for a lot of variety.

Well worth the purchase price. You can buy this cd at

In addition, you can hear Jason Vivone And The Billy Bats along with The Mojo Roots from Columbia (see my review March 18) and The Bottoms Up Blues Gang from St Louis all together in the Missouri Blues Caravan on Thursday April 25th at Knucklehead's in Kansas City, Friday April 26 at Mojos in Columbia, and Saturday April 27 at BB's Jazz, Blues And Soups in St Louis. A unique opportunity to see the "next generation of Missouri blues talent" all on stage at one time--sponsored by the Kansas City Blues Society, the MO Blues Society, and The St Louis Blues Society.

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