Rockin' Johnny Band - Grim Reaper
Review by Willard Manus

Don't let the death image fool you, Rockin' Johnny (full name Johnny Burgin) is a musician full of life and pizzazz. For proof, pick up his new Delmark release and listen to the way he invigorates the Chicago blues with his spirited singing and playing. There are fifteen tracks on GRIM REAPER and each one showcases the virtuosity of this triple-threat artist (guitar, vocals, composing).

Rockin' Johnny burst on to the Chicago blues scene in the 1990s, winning acclaim while backing up the likes of Pinetop Perkins and Little Arthur Duncan, only to suddenly drop out of sight for personal reasons. Now he's back, a decade later, fronting his own band, playing and singing up a veritable storm.

Three of his original songs are on the CD; the others are by such heroes as Otis Rush, Jody Williams and Little Walter Jacobs. It's good company to be in, but Rockin' Johnny more than holds his own on tunes like I Was Fooled, My Baby's a Good 'Un and Everybody Needs Somebody. He sings in confident, mellifluous fashion on those ballads, but excels even more on lead guitar, playing with impressive beauty and artistry.

Backed up by Rick Kreher on rhythm guitar and Big D Erickson on harp--not to speak of John Sefner, bass, and Steve Bass, drums--Rockin' Johnny burns through song after song (there's one instrumental,(Brand New Boots) in charismatic fashion.

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