Monday, March 18, 2013

The Mojo Roots -- "What Kind Of Fool"

There was a time when I wasn't very happy about moving from Decatur Georgia to Columbia Missouri last summer. On the good side I would be closer to family, but on the other side I was going to lose my friends in Georgia--in particular my BBQ friends and my blues friends. Well, the move is completed and everything is going to be alright. I am making new BBQ friends all the time, and I am happy to report that Columbia has a blues band as good as any I heard in metro Atlanta--the Mojo Roots.

 These guys are terrific.  Jordan Thomas is on vocals, harp and rhythm guitar, Trevor Judkins is on lead and sometimes slide guitars, Jim Rush is on bass, and Andy Naugle is on drums. Guesting is ace keyboardist John D'Agostino, who  contributes some great Hammond B-3 organ.

Jordan is the primary songwriter--he wrote six of the 11 songs--and he produced the cd. The originals are uniformly good, especially the title track, "Deaf, Dumb And Blind" and "Green Eyed Baby." The 5 covers are pretty good songs too--Leo Nocentelli's "I Got The Blues," Jerry Butler & Otis Reddings' "I've Been Loving You Too Long," the traditional "Hush, Somebody's Calling My Name," John Mayall's "It's Over," and  Johnny Jones' "Hoy Hoy Hoy."

One thing I especially like about this cd is Jordan's singing. There are times here when I think I'm listening to Curtis Salgado. And tackling an Otis Redding song? That's pretty brave. His work there won't make you forget the original, but he in no way embarrasses himself.

Another thing I like is Trevor's lead guitar work. He reminds me of an Atlanta institution on the guitar, Jim Ransome, of The Breeze Kings, and that is a very good thing. Like Ransome, Trevor is a soulful player, who likes to play with the tone and touch that each song needs and not one note extra. He looks young, but he must have been playing the guitar for 30 years to get this good.
And the rhythm work of Jim Rush and Andy Naugle is terrific. Space does not allow me to list all the bands that Jim Rush has played with over the years, but take it from me--he is the dean of Missouri bass players. He has been playing in the pocket for over 30 years, and here he and Andy make every song swing and jump. And Andy Naugle plays everything so clean and tastefully--on "Hush, Somebody's Calling My Name" everybody is working in harmony, and the result is a powerful gospel blues, but the foundation of it all is Andy Naugle.   

All together, the Mojo Roots make a rich, deep bluesy sound--it is a combo sound which is respectful of blues history and yet all new. They remind me of Sean Costello. Nobody overplays and nobody gets left behind. No egos.

The Mojo Roots made it to the semi-finals of the IBC in their first attempt earlier this year, and the truth is they deserved it. They really are that good. Check them out before they get BIG. I just found out they have been invited to play the Chicago Blues Festival on June 7th, on the WCBS stage. 

This is an independent release--you can buy it for $10 at

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