Review: Back Pack Jones – Betsy’s Kitchen

Posted on: Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Back Pack Jones – Betsy’s Kitchen

(Self Produced)

They say that from small things, big things grow; well from an afternoons conducive strumming between guitarist Kirk Lonbom and bass player Mike Baier the germ of a band began to take shape, With the beneficial additions of lead vocalist Michael ‘Big Mike’ Wallace, Wendell Day, keyboards and Harvey Horton on drums the mixture was complete and I should add quite, quite tasty.

For this group of very mellow sounding gentlemen from Springfield, Illinois have within two years of forming created a laidback atmosphere of sound that seems to conjure up aural images of B. B. King at his most serene, with vocals from ‘Big Mike’ that are on one level a soothing balm to the soul, to the good time boisterousness of Big Joe Turner, while, in the background the rest of the band enticingly weave velvety smooth ear tender patterns, created from influences as far apart as the late night floating jazz of George Benson to slowly hip swaying Latin guitar passages that Carlos Santana is rightly famous for. Add to that a seductively sweet swinging horn section and you have the bonus of jolly, jaunty inviting Jump’n’Jive. All this is served up midst a strong, thick undercurrent of Chicago blues.

All of the nine numbers are band originals, with the addition of the odd nursery rhyme to “Hey Diddle, Diddle”, a jolly and swinging violin, bass and keyboard led number that asks the questions what are they doing? Have they got the blues? Are they happy? One number that is definitely happy is the jump ’n’ jivin’ “I’ Got A Girlfriend”, the happy go lucky horns lead your legs on to the floor to joyously shuffle any blues away.

A rolling B3 and funky guitar leads a swinging brass backbeat on “Riptide”, which focuses on the self centeredness attitude of a girlfriend that seems to ensure that the relationship is on the way out. “Fixin’ To Leave”, is a very mellow slowburning blues in the tradition of ‘T. Bone’ Walker, a lone understated guitar is joined by wailing horns and a rolling and soaring B3. “The End”, contains a very seductive late night rolling piano and mournful violin which leads into a very mellow but, sad tale of loneliness and emotional loss that can only be changed by love.



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