Review: Hokie Joint – The Music Starts To Play

Posted on: Saturday, Aug 6, 2011

HOKIE JOINT
“The Music Starts To Play”
(Cool Buzz – CLBZ 32)

Formed in late 2007, the five musicians that make up Hokie Joint have gradually become one of the major forces on the European blues scene, garnering rave reviews for the live shows along the way . . . however the music they make is far from the traditional guitar laden offerings of many blues bands, with an altogether more rootsy sound, which dips into touches of ‘Stonesy’ rock, folk, and with a definite Eastern European feel to some of the ten original band songs on “The Music Starts To Play”, the bands second release on the Dutch label, Cool Buzz.

To use football terminology, they consist of a blend of youth and experience – the main instrumental ‘fireworks’ being provided by leading British harmonica player Giles King, and the simple, yet effective guitar work of Joel Fisk; the rhythm section being seasoned bass player Fergie Fulton and drummer Stephen Cutmore, with the vocalist JoJo Burgess coming on like a blend of ex-Heavy Metal Kids singer, the late Gary Holton, with a pinch of the late, great Alex Harvey, and the theatricals of ‘The Artful Dodger’ . . . a heady brew, but hopefully anyone who has seen Hokie Joint live will see where I’m coming from on this one!

The opening title track, “The Music Starts To Play”, has a polka feel to it, courtesy of Giles King superb harmonica and the driving guitar and rhythm section; the pace goes into overdrive on the rocking “Force Of Habit”, with a 70s Rolling Stones feel to it provided mainly by Joel Fisk’s ‘Keef ‘n’ Ronnie’ riff at the core of the song. The dark and spooky ballad “This Body Of Mine”, contemplates death, and again is brilliantly original . .  a brooding bass line from Fergie Fulton, some tough amplifed harmonica from Giles King, and resonator guitar from Fisk, with JoJo Burgess’s vocals building to a crescendo.

“Aeroplane” is another rocker which rides on a great harmonica and guitar hook, and the ‘tight as they come’ partnership of Fergie Fulton and Stephen Cutmore very impressive. The almost show-like “Birds In The Rafters” changes tempo again . . . the wry tale of a 20-hour stay in an Indian railway station, and its nightmarish implications . .  . Giles Kings’ amplified harmonica playing showing great tone and technique, with a great guitar solo from Fisk that never overstays its welcome.

Cutmore’s drums pound out a jungle rhythm on the intro to “Apologise” before the band join in, the song having a rolling, jangly feel to it; they return to Eastern Europe for the sparse starting “Jackie Boy”, a tale of an old dog, whose bone is not for sharing, before the tempo increases on this jaunty, folky song; the dietary lesson that is “Watch What We Eat” has another wry lyric, and features more splendid, yet simple guitar and harmonica from Messrs. Fisk and King, and great harmony vocals.

The closing two songs are the jangly, swinging and dreamlike “Remington”, and the epic here, the lengthy “Bang Bang, the seven minute plus outlaw tale, that once again sees the guitar and harmonica pairing on top form, embellishing JoJo Burgess’s rasping vocal . . . a suitably spectacular ending to one of the finest British releases this year, from a great and truly different band who are not afraid to take chances . . . hats off to them for that!

GRAHAME RHODES

www.hokiejoint.co.uk

www.coolbuzz.nl

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