“Lessons Learned”
Distribution: CD Baby
Publicity: Blind Raccoon

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro

Jim Gustin and Truth Jones are long time veterans and staples of the west coast music scene.  Looking at a list of the acts they’ve opened for over the years is not only a testament to their talent but it’s a testament to their diversity, as well.  A small sampling of those acts from various genres include: Three Dog Night; Foghat; The Fabulous Thunderbirds; Big Bad Voodoo Daddy; Dallas Hodge; Darrell Mansfield; Chris Duarte; Coco Montoya; Teresa James, and so many others.

“Lessons Learned”  is the third release from Jim Gustin and Truth Jones – who by the way is actually Jeri Goldenhar – and all of it’s eleven tracks are Gustin/Goldenhar originals and/or collaborations.  For the project, the nucleus of the band is: Jim Gustin on vocals and guitar; Truth Jones on vocals; Steve Alterman on piano, organ and vocals; Scott Duncan on bass and vocals; Chuck Strong on drums and vocals; and Lawrence Tamez on saxophone.  Additional musicians include: Jim Scimonetti on saxophone; Lee Thornburg on trumpet; Chris LeRoi Hansen on harmonica; Tommy Marsh on slide guitar; Art Mendoza on percussion; Jill Horman on vocals; and Terry Wilson – who also did the mixing and mastering – on guitar, percussion and keys.

When the answer to a question is “I’d Been Drinking“, thinking trouble may have likely been involved is a pretty safe assumption.  On this duet, Jim tells of him and the boys going out for the night while Truth shares a similar story about her and her friends on a girls night out…..in the same joint!  If you can’t figure out the rest, just refer back to the songs title. Separately, these two are each capable of belting the hell out of any song and with them joining forces on a raucous track like this, calling the vocals powerful is an understatement.   Musically, it’s a smoker that features an aggressive rhythm with strong sax, piano and guitar highlights from Jim Scimonetti, Steve Alterman, and Jim Gustin.

Being somewhat of a segue, had she said “I Heard About” to that guy in the above song, a lot of trouble could have possibly been avoided.  Making things worse is the fact that – although he may be handsome – this mister has a missus.  This rhythm driven dance floor filler is highlighted by the the fabulous drum work of Chuck Strong and wailing horn and piano leads.

When This Ship Sails” carried me away to a dimly lit, smoke filled, jazz lounge where a tall and sexy singer in a tight, form fitting, floor length dress – accompanied by a silky, smooth trio – is vocally and visually seducing the crowd.  Knowing her, I can truthfully tell you that Truth Jones could surely pull that off.

Is it politically correct to say “I hate to see you go but I love to watch you walk away”…..followed by discussing – in detail – the exact reasons why?  Who cares, right Jim?  On “I Hate To See You Go“, Jim does that and more as he graphically paints us a head to toe picture of an obviously voluptuous woman.  Of course, throwing in some squalling guitar riffs and singing the song with what this listener thinks is one of the raspiest, gravely voices in the business gives the lyrics a lot more depth.

“The postman brings the mail and the paperboy brings the news, but “All You Ever Bring Me Is The Blues“‘.  On this track Truth doesn’t seem to be in the mood for that form fitting, floor length dress right now and it sounds like seducing anyone is the furthest thing from her mind.  Sounding more like she’s wearing head gear, boxing gloves and combat boots, I’m pretty sure she’s up for kicking some ass instead.  It’s a smoker for sure and the band is certainly up to some rock ’em, sock ’em of their own.

The album’s title comes into play on a track titled “Never Too Big For The Blues“.  As they discuss “lessons learned’ while being bullied as kids in school, the song title takes on the feel of a pun.  As Jim tells it, when he was a kid he was tall for his age but because he was so skinny, the other kids would rattle his cage.  He had to fight a lot and would mostly lose, causing Jim to find out early that you’re never too big for the blues.  Similarly, as a high school girl, Truth was bigger than the boys.  She heard all the jokes and tried to drown out the noise and as she waited for a prom invite, she never got the news.  Truth also learned the hard way that you’re never too big for the blues.  Fast forward several decades, they’ve now played a thousand shows in a thousand seedy bars, and yet no one knows who they are.  They keep on trying and have paid their dues, yet some things never change…you’re never too big for the blues. Musically, Tommy (Crooked Eye Tommy) Marsh on acoustic/slide guitar and Chris LeRoi Hansen on harmonica are absolutely masterful on what is unfortunately their only appearance.

By far, the duets most emotional and heartfelt presentation is delivered on a sensitive ballad titled “My Love Is True”.   Admittedly, the passion and sincerity exuded by Jim and Truth had this listener thinking it was their way of expressing their love for one another.  As it turns out, this fervent love song was a way of Jim letting his wife know that regardless of all they’ve been through, when the clouds part, “it will still be me and you”.    It’s a beautifully sung beautiful song elevated to a whole other level by the equally beautiful sax and piano leads of Lawrence Tamez and Steve Alterman.

Other tracks on “Lessons Learned” – the recording I believe will change people not knowing who Jim Gustin and Truth Jones are – include: “The Truth”, “Never Forget”, Rockslide”, and Three Things”.                  

To find out more about the Jim Gustin and Truth Jones just go to  http://www.epresskitz.com/jimgustinandtruthjones or friend them at https://www.facebook.com/jimgustinandtruthjones, and should you have not yet received your copy of “Lessons Learned” for airplay, just contact Betsie Brown at www.blindraccoon.com.  Wherever you go and whomever you talk to, please tell them that the Blewzzman sent you.

Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping the Blues Alive Recipient