Artist: Big Jon Atkinson and Bob Corritore
Album: House Party at Big Jon’s
Label: Delta Groove
Release Date: 05/20/2016
One of the purest, most traditional blues albums of 2016 comes courtesy of 26 year-old guitarist and vocalist Big Jon Atkinson, in collaboration with Chicago-steeped harmonica veteran Bob Corritore. They set up in Big Jon’s home studio in San Diego, used vintage equipment, invited a bunch of like-minded guests to play, and took an old school approach to both originals and covers. Given the generational span of players ranging from late teens (Malachi Johnson) to mid-eighties (Tomcat Courtney), and virtually all decades in between, it’s quite remarkable how they all tapped into the same groove. Corritore points out: “There is in some cases a 50 to 60 year age differential between many of the musicians on this record. This speaks directly to the beautiful spirit of the blues that transcends generations.”
You’d never guess Atkinson is only 26 as his vocals and guitar playing exude the authority of a veteran. It was Kim Wilson who gave Big Jon his first break, including him in his Blues All-Stars. Wilson says, “Jon is one of the only guys doing it the right way. He knows the music. He knows the gist of it and understands the soul of the music.” Corritore, a stellar harmonica player as well, echoed, “Jon’s approach to the blues extends right into his recording studio. He records on vintage equipment just like it was recorded back in the old days. What you end up with is an honest performance with that natural saturation and warmth that makes for a beautiful sounding record.”
Atkinson only sings of half of these generous 16 tracks though, letting Dave Riley, Willie Buck, Alabama Mike, and Tomcat Courtney each have turns, the first four of them two each. Regardless of who is singing the entire album has that pure blues feeling that we don’t hear often enough these days. You get a sense of Big Jon’s vocals especially on the first four tracks but if you insist on sampling first, be sure to check Tomcat Courtney on “Mojo In My Bread”, Dave Riley on “Mississippi Plow”, Willie Buck on “King Bee” and Alabama Mike on “Somebody Done Changed The Lock On my Door”. Settle in, purists and casual blues fans alike. This is how it should be done.
– Jim Hynes