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Johnny Roy & The RubTones: Press

Johnny Roy & The RubTones
Call Johnny Roy!!
Lextone (2005) LX 444

13 tracks, 72 minutes. Recommended. Hailing from Lexington, Kentucky, Johnny Roy & The RubTones, a storming blues trio called in harp wizard Terry Bean for the new disc Call Johnny Roy!! While Lexington might not be a known hotbed for blues, there's little doubt that Roy and company went headlong into this project with their hearts in the right place... recording in Clarksdale, Mississippi at Jimbo Mathus' Delta Recording Studio couldn't hurt either. Roy is a completely rounded guitarist with a warehouse-sized vocabulary and a booming voice that soars above, below, and around the grooves on this baker's dozen. With eight self-penned originals aboard, JR shows his skills well to the fore in It Never Seems To Happen That Way, a bristling shuffle with torrid guitar, the crushing Chicago march of Red Meat, Women & Whiskey, and Blues Take Me Home , the disc's eleven-minute masterpiece which explains, in gripping detail, a man's quest for the heart, soul, and meaning of blues. Roy's partners in crime, Sean McLaughlin on bass and Jim Turner on drums, prove to be an exceptional rhythm section driving things along steadily without a hitch. Covers include Little Junior Parker's Man Or Mouse and the Wynonie Harris gem I Love My Baby's Puddin' - both well-done. Cell Phone Baby , another fine original, shows that you can still write strong blues in the 21st century if you're aware of life in the fast lane. Terry Bean's harp is superb on I Go Into Orbit and Little Demons (coming in two separate mixes), while The Real Deal displays his excellence on chromatic. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that this project was recorded 'live' in the studio without any gimmickry or magic tricks (save for overdubbing the fine backing vocals of Donald and Shanna Mayes in Blues Take Me Home), and that Bean himself had no rehearsal at all, proving that blues is best when recorded off-the-cuff with a formidable band leading the charge. A tip of the hat to Jimbo Mathus and Roy for solid production. Bonus points for creative liner notes from JR and the superb artwork deserves special mention. There are countless outfits across the country laying their blue souls bare, but few match the wit, ease, and teamwork of Johnny Roy & The RubTones - these guys are the real deal. Call Johnny Roy!! Indeed.

(C) 2005 by Craig Ruskey
Posted on Fri, May. 20, 2005

Different shades of blues


By Walter Tunis


Johnny Roy & the RubTones

10 tonight and Saturday at Cheapside Bar and Grill, 131 Cheapside. (859) 254-0046. $5.

As a guitarist, Johnny Roy is so serious about the blues that he cut his new album in Clarksdale, Miss., with famed juke joint stylist Jimbo Mathus. As a band leader, he fronts a tasty trio called the RubTones and a repertoire that runs from jump blues to West Side-Chicago blues to occasional trips through the sounds and styles of New Orleans and Cajun country.

Name doesn't ring a bell? Then maybe Johnny's real-life alias, John Hedger, will. For more than 20 years, Hedger has been one of Lexington's most versed blues voices, from his early bands (Jumpstreet, Jack O'Diamonds) to a tenure of seven years with singer Patty Butcher. He formed the RubTones in 2003 with the notion of showing off numerous shades of blues.

Hedger celebrates the release of Calling Johnny Roy!!, which he co-produced with Mathus, tonight and Saturday at Cheapside Bar and Grill. The first set each night will-feature the RubTones (bassist Sean McLaughlin and drummer Jim Turner) playing tunes from the CD. The second set will enlist special guests that will probably include Butcher.

"I've done a lot of blues over years," Hedger said. "But I started this band with the idea that we can do pretty much anything we want as far as classic blues goes."
"Just wanted to tell you that I heard you in the jukebox. You gotta be one of best on there. This ain't meant to be no snow job, but that voice is golden, mellifluous. So, I just calls 'em as I see 'em."
Fred Bolden ( Nephew of Mississippi John Hurt and cousin of Skip James) - From The Blindman's Blues Forum (May 14, 2004)
"I have to admit that with most white blues guys, I expect solid guitar work and barely passable vocals... Well, Johnny Roy delivers not only on the guitar but has a tremendous voice - I'm not just saying that to be a nice guy. Johnny's got a crisp tenor with exceptional control, great enunciation and a very cool southern drawl. The guy can SING! Johnny's a real tasteful guitarist, as well, who has done his listening to the right stuff. It was a real treat to have him sit in with my group and I thouroughly enjoyed sitting out front to listen."
Sean Carney (of The Sean Carney Band and Teeny Tucker Band) - From The Blindman's Blues Forum (Jun 21, 2004)
"You have a winner here! ...I don't see why this cd shouldn't be blues hit. ... You are a great guitar player...Sound wise, you got a good one. I am listening on my funky, old, $100 all in one system... It sounds great on it. Lots of air in the mix. You should be proud of this cd. It has great songs, grooves."
Walter Tore (Spontobeat)... - From The Blindman's Blues Forum (Feb 10, 2005)
"I can hear some jimmy rogers in there somewhere. at times,your voice reminds me of jimmy thackery when he was singing and playing for the Nighthawks.'ve got some good chops there johnny roy. I think you play with lots of passion and feeling. I can hear the pain, tears, and hardships that have helped form your musical character in the recording. good job!"
Richard Ray Farrell ...( bohemian blues artist...played with Frank Frost ) - From The Blindman's Blues Forum (Feb 10, 2005)