Review: RJ Mischo – Make It Good

Posted on: Tuesday, Jun 26, 2012


RJ Mischo – Make It Good

(Delta Groove Music: DGPCD0152)

A new release from the great Minneapolis-raised, Arkansas-based harmonica man RJ Mischo is always a treat . . . and here on his 10th album, “Make It Good” – his first for Delta Groove, he is in sparkling form on an all-original 13-track set . . . . he has few peers among the modern breed of harmonica players, his big-toned playing perfected over a 30 year career . . . which includes stints with Percy Strother, Mojo Buford, Teddy Morgan and more.

He has always called on top musicians to record and play live, including Junior Watson, Kid Andersen, Rusty Zinn, Franck Goldwasser and more, and here he is backed by a predominantly Austin-based band featuring the guitars of Nick Curran and Johnny Moeller, Ronnie James Weber (upright and electric bass), Nick Connolly (piano and organ), Wes Starr (drums), with the bulk of the tracks being recorded at Top Hat in Austin. RJs old friend Jeremy Johnson and drummer Richard Medek, also contribute on a couple of tracks recorded at North St. Paul in Minnesota.

The album gets off to a rockin’ start on “Trouble Belt”, as the twin guitars of Curran and Moeller weave in and out of each other, as they share lead, rhythm and fills, with some sparkling piano from Nick Connolly and pushed by the top rhythm section. The ‘low down’ Texas groove instrumental of  “The Frozen Pickle” follows with some dynamite harmonica from RJ Mischo, sweet rhythm guitars and nice organ solo. The title cut, “Make It Good” is a mid-paced stomp, with some earthy guitar from Jeremy Johnson and pushed by Richard Medek’s drums.

“Papa’s S.T. Special” is a showcase for Mischo’s superb harmonica, being firmly in Sonny Terry territory, with obligatory ‘whooping and hollering’, and is an uptempo country blues instrumental pushed by the pairing of Weber and Starr. The ‘walking’ blues of “Minnesota Woman” is another standout, with exemplary acoustic harmonica, and again, some very impressive work from all the other players. The slow blues of “Not Your Good Man” sees one of the best vocals on the album, with Mischo’s acoustic playing again being absolutely of the highest order.

The soulful stomp of “I Got You Covered” fairly rattles along, with Messrs. Curran and Moeller fairly tearing it up; RJ celebrates in “The Biscuit Is Back”, a fond tribute to the King Biscuit blues festival in Arkansas at which he is a regular performer, now returned to its original name . . . it’s a great swing tune with more marvellous guitars. Nick Curran lays down his guitar to play some great shuffling drums on the instrumental “Elevator Juice”, given a cajun flavour by RJ Mischo’s sweet playing.

The lengthy penultimate track, “All Over Again” again rides on another top groove . . . and is the sound of a man and musicians just having a total blast! The whole album was just recorded in four days at the two locations, and recorded and mixed to analog tape . . . giving it a lovely authentic and earthy feel and is a joy from start to finish . . . highly recommended indeed!




June 26th, 2012 at 10:17
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RJ is a proper modern day bluesman. A great performer, no set list, reads the crowd and the band and adapts accordingly.

To band leaders, I recommend they watch that YouTube of RJ talking about playing with pick up bands around the world.

Damn nice fellah too!