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|On a Conscious Road to
16 April 2008
Second album "Whole Lotta Things to Do" excellently captures the live sound of Jo' Buddy & Down Home King III. The debut cd's good reputation has not gone to the artist's head.
The first album by Jo' Buddy & Down Home King III (Grits and Rattles, 2006) gathered rave reviews, literally, around the world. It earned lauds from such well-respected media as the Real Blues Magazine, Sweden's Keeping the Blues Alive –awarded Jefferson Magazine, and Spain's radio show La Hora del Blues. The resulting international tour included gigs e.g. at the Doheny Blues Festival in California.
|However, their music cannot be familiar to everyone. For those it should be summarised that the no-frills, rootsy music of Jo' Buddy & Down Home King III is characterised by the sound of Jo' Buddy's East German-made electric guitar – played through an old tube radio – and a wide variety of percussions by Down Home King III.
Success is hard to get, but duplicating it is even harder. So how do Jussi Raulamo and Tyko Haapala respond to the high hopes? Well enough. The new album "Whole Lotta Things to Do" does not offer such gems as the first album did ("Angely", "Down Home Run"), but on the other hand, it has more determination and coherence to it.
Raulamo often says that his percussionist easily does the job of four men at the same time. Jussi himself works as rhythm/solo guitarist as well as singer; so it can be said that we are listening to a two-man septet here! The album excellently captures the sound that is so familiar from their live performances – if someone thinks it is easy for a mini-combo like this, he/she had better compare the studio and live efforts of most musical acts.
According to many a listener, Messrs Raulamo and Haapala can make themselves sound like an orchestra bigger than a duo. There is some truth to it, but that only explains a part of their music. "They Don't Know What I Do", as a perfect example, is a piece of musical minimalism. The song is a gruelling story about giving one's heart and soul to the music he loves, still being conscious – despite reaching some milestones – about the long road ahead. An overwhelming majority of people does not have the self-confidence to make music this 'small', let alone to declare him/herself as a fan of this kind of stuff. Maybe it is just them that Jo' Buddy is singing about?
Many songs are built around simple, one or two-note riffs. Anyone can write a riff like that, but it is a blessing to be able to write it so that it appeals to the listener's primitive emotions. Raulamo has this gift, as for instance is proved by "Howlin' These Blues" and "Everybody's Got the Right". This, although Jo' Buddy's idols come from an enormously wide variety of music, is where it's at in the blues.
"Have Yourself a Ball" has the bluesiest beat to it. In addition to being the most atmospheric ones, "Whole Lotta Things to Do" and "She Moved Away / I'm Goin' Home" include some delicious hollers in the style of the Blind Boys of Alabama. Raulamo the Songwriter's tradition-conscious melody skills are represented by a bright "Ragtime Man".
Unlike most others, Jo' Buddy has been covered in Finland even outside the music media. "Way Back Rag" ends the album "Whole Lotta Things to Do", literally, on a high note, as if to symbolise the artist's great future. Whether the great future ever materialises is up to the audience – these talented musicians are surely doing their part.
Jo' Buddy & Down Home King III: Whole Lotta Things to Do. Ram-Bam Records, 2008
Jo' Buddy (guitar, vocals), Down Home King III (percussion)
Guests: Gabro ja Aku Cppo (holler)
Producer: Jussi Raulamo
Link: Jo' Buddy