Jonny T-Bird & The MPs
Neon Grub Jeer Music
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2022
I guess Common Cents (not a typo, but the name of his fourth release) had something to do with it when Jonny T-Bird thought he shouldn’t wait too long between releases, because here he is – just thirteen months later – with his fifth. It’s titled Play Time, and it features ten all original songs. For this project the band consists of the trio of “Jonny T-Bird” Neuberger on lead & rhythm guitar, ukulele, harmonica and lead vocals; Jenna Kopitske on Wurlitzer piano, Hammond B3 organ and drums & percussion; and “Cadillac” Craig Carter on bass. Additional guests include: Ryan Carter on drums; Jenny Abbott Goodell on lead guitar; Steve Streator on tenor & soprano saxophone; Julia Lewandowski on alto saxophone; Lauren Sperry on baritone saxophone; and Monica Barden on harmony vocals.
The disc opens with “I Came To Play” and it’s very cool introduction type track that appears to be a song that was originally performed at a live performance. From start to finish it features Jonny cleverly addressing the audience on, among other things: that his name is Johnny T-Bird and although he’s here to play what they’d like to hear, they shouldn’t expect “Freebird”; and that they should be sure to check out the bands’ merchandise because it’s all worth the reasonable price. Musically, as he shouts out “Hey Cadillac Craig and Jenna Kopitske, are you ready to play?” both respond with an enthusiastic “Oh Yeah” and then all hell breaks out on rhythm and percussion while Jonny – as he says it – makes his guitar scream. Great opener.
“Take Me Home With You” starts off with some background chatter that sounds like a conversation taking place in a bar or a club. As it turns out, that conversation turns out to be Jonny explaining to a lady friend that his landlord changed his locks and he’s got no place to go. Right about there is where the song’s title comes into play and as you listen to him plead, although she never answers him, you kind of hope she says yes. This dance floor filling shuffle features smooth and sincerely sung vocals and more fabulous guitar work from Jonny, profound rhythm led by really rich bass lines from Craig and enhanced by solid sax blowin’ from Steve and Lauren.
This one is titled “I See You” and if that reminds you of a unit in a hospital, hold that thought. Throughout the song you’ll hear Jonny say: “I see you, sneaking around; I see you with every guy in town; I see you with my own two eyes; I see you, just when you think I’m not; I see you, now you’ve been caught; I see you, and I know you lied.” Sadly, with all that frustration and anger getting to him, it actually leads up to him harshly saying “I’d rather see you in the I. C. U. than to see you with another man.” Remember now, it’s just a song.
This one is titled “No Guarantee” but I will guarantee that it is one of the most beautiful and most beautifully performed songs on the disc. It’s a soft ballad that features a soothing rhythm led by Jenna on the B3 organ; guitar work so stunning that it had me wishing this wasn’t Jenny’s only appearance; flawlessly heartwarming and emotional lead vocals by Jonny and heavenly harmony vocals by Monica. Excellent track!
If you all had a penny for every time you heard me say this you’d have well over a dollar. That said, you can now have another penny ’cause here I go…. It’s no secret that very long, slow and low down blues tracks are what floats my blues boat and with “Love Is A Four Letter Word” being just that, it’s high tide here at the House of Blewzz. For over seven minutes you will happily hear the Carters – Craig (father) on bass and Ryan (son) on drums – lay down the slowest most mood setting rhythm; Jenna giving the songs it’s steady heartbeat on the B3; and Mr. T-Bird – while singing his heart out – at disc’s best on scorching, blues guitar licks. Yep, when it comes to these type of songs you also heard this over a hundred times as well – this one was worthy of several replays.
As a matter of fact, since I’ll be listening again, this is a great place for me to just tell you that other tracks on this excellent release include: “Grown Man Blues”; “Flightless Bird”; “Quittin’ Time”; “Plank Tone”; and “Rockin’ In Waukesha”.
To find out more about Jonny T-Bird and the MPs, and to get your hands on a copy of “Play Time” for airplay, just go the bands website – www.jonnytbird.com. When you do, please tell Jonny that the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
The Blues Is My Passion And Therapy
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award Recipient