The Mary Jo Curry Band
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © Feb. 2020
If the saying “Time flies when you’re having fun” holds any truth, then I must have been having a ball for the last three-and-a-half years because I cannot believe it has been that long since I reviewed Mary Jo Curry’s self titled debut release. That said, Mary Jo’s new release – “Front Porch” – brings to mind another saying that I can tell you holds a lot of truth, “Good things are worth waiting for”, and this is a very good thing.
The nucleus of The Mary Jo Curry Band consists, of course, of Mary Jo on lead vocals; husband Michael Rapier on guitars; Chris Rogers on bass and backing vocals; and Rick Snow on drums and backing vocals; additional band members include: keyboardists Ezra Casey and Brett Donovan; and saxophonist Brian Moore. Additionally, after several of her friends razzed her for not including them on her first release, she jumped on the offer and the band wrote songs for those special guests. They are: Albert Castiglia and Tom Holland on guitars and Andrew Duncanson on vocals. The disc’s eleven tracks include nine band originals, another written for Mary Jo, and one cover.
The disc opens with a track on which Mary Jo addresses the fact that “Nothin’ Is Easy” (M. Rapier). Even an attempt to make that ultimate deal didn’t work out. When she went to the cross roads the devil never showed up. Everything from Mary Jo’s powerful vocals, to the tracks’ thunderous rhythm Chris and Rick are pounding out, to the fiery Hammond and sax leads Bret and Brian are tearing it up on, to Michael Rapier’s lead and slide guitar, all add up to this being one hell of a smokin’ track.
Since there’s no better way to do a Chicago style shuffle than using a Chicagoan who happens to front a band called The Shuffle Kings, this would be a great time and place to let Tom Holland work his magic…..and he is indeed working it. “All Your Lies” (M. Rapier) is one of several songs that evolve around dirty, rotten, no good men – who we’ll of course assume were part of Mary Jo’s life long before Michael. With her intense, in-your-face vocal style Mary Jo seems to be right in her wheelhouse here. Additionally, the track again features what is obviously going to be the norm – amazing rhythm, keyboard and horn performances.
If you want to hear what could very well be the disc’s best vocal performance, there is no need to go “Lookin'” (M. Rapier) any further. Although the rhythm – which I’ve already established is a gimme – is fueling the track and Michael is sliding in some monster guitar licks, Mary Jo and Andrew Duncanson just take this one and run with it. Sounding like they may have had the same vocal coach, these two are the proverbial match made in heaven. The facts that it is Andrew’s only performance and that this is arguably the disc’s best track, easily make it the replay special. Side note to Mary Jo – If you don’t feature Andrew on your next release, I’ll, be the one complaining. :>)
According to the notes on the accompanying one sheet, “House Is Lonely” (M. Rapier) is regrettably about the loss of some of Michael’s loved ones. Inasmuch as sad and beautiful can be polarizing words, music seems to be a place where they fittingly come together. Many a sad song have been so beautifully sung and performed and Mary Jo’s emotional vocals; Michael’s soothing guitar notes; the dulcet affect from the dual keyboards of Bret and Ezra; and the relaxing rhythm from Chris and Rick; all genuinely make this one of them.
So, when Andrew Terrill Thomas wrote this song specifically for Mary Jo Curry to perform, he was the Leonardo da Vinci to her being the Mona Lisa. The song is titled “Explaining The Blues” and it could not have painted a better picture when it came to showcasing Mary Jo’s intense, attention demanding and range roaming vocal skills. The drift of the song is about the difficult time Mary Jo has explaining the blues associated with a bad relationship, yet all you gotta do is hear her sing it and that’s all the explaining you’ll ever need. Yeah, there was a ton of masterful music going on here as well, but this would have sounded good even with a child banging a spoon on a pot. WOW!
After a commanding performance like that, I think the disc’s producers knew that right about now, most of us listeners probably needed something light. Enter a bouncy instrumental titled “Shake & Bake” (M. Rapier). It’s an up tempo number in which Tom Holland and the guys collectively have a good ol’ time jamming together while passing the lead around. Fun stuff for sure.
Other tracks on “Front Porch” include: “Turn It Loose” and “The Man” (both by C. Rogers); “We All Had A Real Good Time” (D. Hartman & E. Winter); “Front Porch” (M. Rapier); and “Joyful” (M. Rapier & R. Snow).
I may be a bit premature when I say this, but if this product makes it into the hands of the right people – and with Blind Raccoon representing it, it will – look for “Front Porch” by The Mary Jo Curry Band to be in the running of both the International Blues Challenge and the Blues Music Awards.
To find out more about Mary Jo Curry and the band just go to www.maryjocurry.com and please tell her that the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping the Blues Alive Recipient