Home on the range with Americana Kitchen…

The album says … Come And Get It

‘Americana’ and ‘Roots Music’ are oft bandied about these days and, until now, I have never fully agreed with the definitions used…they are too restrictive; too simplistic. Now Danny Johnson under the banner of Americana Kitchen: Come and Get It has come closest to agreeing with my view…he says “ it includes all of these “American Born Musical Styles”: Blues, Jazz, Rock n Roll, Bluegrass, Country & Western, Country Pop, American, Gospel Music, Zydeco, Delta Music, Boogie Woogie, Swing, Be Bop, Rhythm & Blues, and so much more”. OK, that is very wide, but then so are the styles that have informed American music since the late 1800s. Danny is an established guitarist, singer and composer who has been writing and producing mainly for TV in recent years…note, not the Danny Johnson of Alcatrazz, Axis and Rick Derringer fame.

This Danny decided it was time to celebrate the musical heritage of his homeland and so wrote a large number of songs in the various styles, assembled a “studio band” of some of the cream of Southern California’s talent, then recorded, arranged and produced this showcase of true Americana. Oh, and he played guitar on all of them as well…smartarse! Plus, this is also subtitled Volume One; he has another boatload of songs ready for the next opus. Artists you may recognise include Francesca Capasso and “Jumpin Jack” Benny Cortez who contribute their vocals to eight and five songs on the album, respectively, as well as a substantial part of the Avila family. I must admit to being a little wary when I saw two or three versions of the same song but Danny has shown what the styles are about by presenting them in very different ways so that it is easy to forget they are the “same”. For example, version one of Hard Love has Benny on vocals over an essentially rock backing, replete with neat piano and a great guitar solo. The second one is country with acoustic and resonator guitar and a fiddle to get the ‘ye-ha’s’ going. Both have their own merits although the rock version wins for me. You get three versions of Blood of the Blues: Benny sings one as pure blues with organ and guitar matching the emotions; then two versions with Francesca on vocals giving it a jazz style (especially with the superb bass solo (fretless methinks)) and a toned down ‘time for bed said Zebedee’ version that is more languid and relaxed. This polarity reversal continues on Living Out Loud where we get a great rock song and then see it turned into another ‘ye-ha’ moment as banjo, mandolin and fiddle change it beyond belief. On You Better Think Twice, the first is jazz based with Francesca suitably on form and the second has a more blues bias as Benny does the vocals. There are also two versions of (aarrgghh!) The Christmas Song…I am the Grinch, so this sort of thing never works for me and both make me long for “Merry Axemas”. The banjo version works best, but I won’t be listening to either…however, if you are of a mind to like songs about wanting Santa to bring a loved one home, then this is for you…just not for a miserable old sod like me! Some of the standalone songs like the real funk of New World are are great diversion and In Real Life with its blues and soul are a good listen.

All in all, then, this is a fine compendium of different styles always magnificently played and arranged. Inevitably on an exercise so wide-ranging and ambitious, there are always going to be a couple of ‘skippers’. There is plenty of material here that will make it onto your playlists too and it is a worthwhile and admirable showcase for true Americana and Danny is to be applauded for that.

EIGHTpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Side 1

  1. Hard Love
  2. New World
  3. You Better Think Twice
  4. Blood Of The Blues
  5. Run Little Red
  6. In Real Life
  7. The Christmas Song
  8. Catch That Tran
  9. Living Out Loud
  10. Blood of The Blues (Bonus Track)


Side 2

  1. All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go
  2. Hard Love
  3. You Better Think Twice
  4. Jesus I’ve Got a Friend In You
  5. Blood of the Blues
  6. Catch That Train
  7. The Christmas Song
  8. I’m So Tired of Runnin
  9. Livin Out Loud
  10. Just Fine For Now

Musicians:

Danny Johnson: guitar

Francesca Carpasso: vocals

Jumpin’ Jack Benny Cortez: vocals

Michael Sanchez: vocals

Michelle Snachez: vocals

Big Mike Vasquez: bass, vocals

Andee Avila: vocals

Gino Matteo: guitar

Sammy Avila: keyboards

Danny Avila: guitar

John Avila: bass

Johnny Main; guitar

Micaheal Leisure: drums

Ray Aguilar: bass

Home on the range with Americana Kitchen…

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