If you’ve known me longer than five minutes you probably realized that I’m a very thrifty man. I think Jack Benny was a spendthrift.
Apparently I’m old as well…
I don’t spend my money willy nilly. Part of the reason is I just don’t have that much to spend. Another reason is I have this undying need to find all sorts of cool stuff, and no room to put anything else in my house. If you ever run into my family members, they will tell you, I’m about a deck of cards away from being the Christmas episode of Hoarders…
But I do like to shop for stuff, so I spend just about every waking moment looking for bargains. Every thrift store in a 60-mile radius knows me as I’m always there looking for used CDs, albums, books, and anything to do with blues and roots music.
If it even looks like blues music I’ll buy it. I’ve been burned a few times, but not enough to worry about. When I realized that I was turning up all sorts of good music for a buck or two, I decided that I needed to share these finds with you. Hell, if it’s new to you, it’s new music.
The first album I want to tell you about is a group from Guy’s Mills, PA, Jake’s Blues. The album I found for $1.25 is called First Time Out, and it’s over 20 years old and it’s as fresh as if it was just pressed yesterday. The band consists of Jake Banta on guitar and vocals; Ron Bissell on bass; and Alan Chaffee on drums. Special guests on the album include Roddy Calona on drums and Riley Osbourne on Hammond B-3 and piano.
I was completely unaware of the band prior to finding this disc, but I wish I had known about them, I definitely would have played them. They have a good sound and a whole lot of heart.
The album opens up with some rocking blues with She’s Satisfied. While on the surface they sound like a good bar band, as you listen you hear how tight they are and how they make slight changes in the song. They’ve got a good feel and this makes me think the album is going to be better than average.
Next up is Down In The Gut, and Banta lays some choppy guitar over some cool B-3 licks by Osbourne. I like the sound, it has a bit of a funky blues vibe that would have been perfectly at home at a studio like STAX. I bet this one has to be a good one when done live.
Bo Diddley’s Sick ‘N’ Tired follows with some great boogie piano adding a lot to the song. Banta’s guitar plays off of the piano very well, and Banta has a lot of fun with the vocals. They follow up with an instrumental, Huckle Boogie, that’s quick and gives they guys a chance to stretch out. I like instrumentals, some may disagree with me, but sometimes I just want to concentrate on the purity of the music. This is one of those songs.
Next up is the slow burn blues of Telephone Man. Banta’s guitar sounds so sweet when laid over the B-3 of Osbourne. It’s a great late-night song that is filled with emotion and it showcases some of Banta’s best work, both vocally and musically. It’s the longest song on the album at nearly eight minutes, but it is a real tour de force, and I know it’s got to be a killer when done live.
Pass Me My Pain starts out with some audience noise giving the song a live feeling. It segues into a solid blues song with some good lyrics and a bounce to the delivery. I like the effects. They get rocking on Let Me In, another bouncy song with a stripped-down delivery and the addition of Osbourne’s boogie piano adds a nice touch. It’s a cool song and has to get an audience up on its feet.
Banta and Osbourne set up the next song, I Was Wrong. The B-3 has a STAX sound and the choppy guitar adds its touch to recreating that cool era. This is a righteous R&B tune.
Little Willie John’s I Need Your Love So Bad follows. It’s a slow country blues number with some of the sweetest guitar you’ll ever hear. Osbourne’s piano is reminiscent of Floyd Cramer and this is the kind of beautiful song that every singer wishes he could latch on to. Banta just pours his heart and soul into his vocals.
They end the album with Drivin’ South (Part 2). It’s a fast paced rocking instrumental that gives the band a chance to show what they can do. It’s heavy on the guitar and Banta makes it sing. Yes, he shreds it, but he doesn’t forget that aimless shredding means nothing and he gives his instrument a strong soul.
I don’t know who donated this album to the thrift store where it eventually made it into my hands, but I’m glad they did. Jake’s Blues is a fine example of a great blues band that I otherwise might never have come across. First Time Out is not their only album, and I plan to track them down and get the others.
Wherever you may be, I’ll bet there are great bands nearby. Feel free to share them with us here at The Juke Joint. I’m always looking for my next favorite artist or group, so, if you know ‘em, tell ‘em about us here. They can get in touch with me here or at my email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, check out Jake’s Blues at https://www.reverbnation.com/jakebantajakesblues, and when I find out more about them, I will pass it on to you as well!