By Tine Roycroft
Jumpin’ Juba is hitting the Worcester area this summer and intends to seduce everyone with their infectious, fun-loving grooves. With Brian Flan on drums, Bruce Ward on the piano and organ and Steve Hurl on guitar and vocals, you’ve got a great combination of major talent and pure joy.
The band describes themselves as New Orleans swamp-rock, classic boogie-woogie, folk with a twist of Memphis rock & roll, and a playful mix of everything from calypso to country are stirred into the band’s blue stew. (Try to say that three times fast!)
Jumpin’ Juba released Bumpity Bump in 2004 and in 2010, they graced us with Slap Happy, which promises to be the best new reason to shake your booty on a Saturday night.
First off, gotta love a little ditty the boys call “Hawaiian War Chant.” It’s a fun instrumental piece that contains all the mellowness of Hawaii. The words “war chant” are a tad misleading ~ Jumpin’ Juba is all about kicking it with love so this song won’t get you ready for a gang fight, but it will prepare you for hangin’ with good friends and enjoying a couple of Long Island Ice Teas.
The music performance and arrangement are tight, but you have to give mad props to Steve Hurl, the master of ceremonies. Hurl knows how to talk to the crowd, grab them, and bring them in.
The song “Rambling Burglar” has Hurl speaking i-time to the amazing work of Flan and Ward. The song focuses on a bumbling burglar who breaks into a home, feeds the family dog, feeds himself, and then watches a number of TV show marathons. There’s humor, there’s rhythm, and there are some yummy grooves going on.
For more info on Jumpin’ Juba, go to
By Alex Kantarelis
Punk/metal band Mongrel are back with a new full-length CD that shows off their new female fronted lineup, with newcomer Jessica Sierra taking over on vocals. Reclamation is ten tracks of aggressive punk songs with just the right touch of metal. If you’ve ever wondered what Motorhead or Danzig would sound like if a woman were singing, look no further than Mongrel. (And if you’re picturing some cheesy Evanescence vocals, don’t worry, it’s not like that at all, trust me!)
The band got their start in 2003 and have gone through several lineup changes. Last summer their former singer quit, leaving them stuck without a frontman. “Our friend Jess stepped up from the band Affliction. She showed up on 3 days’ notice to cover some shows for us and it worked out really well,” said guitarist Adam Savage. After the shows, the band decided that Sierra was in for good. “We took the new lineup into the studio and figured that we’d do some of the established songs with the new lineup so it would allow the fans a familiar way to judge them,” Savage said. That studio trip led to the EP The New Breed of Old School, which acted more as a bridge to the next step for the band.
With older songs re-recorded, the band hit the studio to put out their first album of new material since 2008. While the EP was just a taste of things to come, the new full length is the real deal. Sierra meshes with the band as if she’s been their vocalist since the beginning. “She just adds a lot more range and character and overall she really steps up the caliber with what she brings,” Savage said. And he’s right, because the new album totally rips. Check it out, you’ll be glad you did.
Reclamation ~ featuring 12 full-length songs ~ will be released in June or July of this year, perfect timing for becoming your favorite summer album. The companion EP, Declamation, will be out May 10.
By B. Elliot
So, your over-controlling parents don’t understand you and take every opportunity to remind you of your failures. Boo-freakin-hoo. It’s get even time, and I’ve got the punk rock plan that doesn’t even require that you learn three chords. Simply pick up Sadplant’s latest, The End of Fun, because no band can punish Mom and Pops like these three delinquents can.
Is there any area band that’s done more to fly the punk flag than these felonious wrongdoers? The End of Fun is the band’s seventh CD since 2007 ~ talk about getting their music out there! Featuring Benny Social on vocals and guitars, Amy Wappel on bass and vocals, and newest member Gabe Fonseca on drums, Sadplant produces a lively, straight-ahead punk onslaught. But they are also capable of melodic guitar runs and, surprising, metal-inspired leads. Social’s rugged vocals sound like Alice Cooper on amphetamines. Failed relationships, drug abuse, codependence, departed friends, and the irony of aging punks are explored with honesty and comic insight.
Strong tracks include the hopeful, anthemic “Junkie,” the pop-punk track “Codependence” (featuring call and response vocals), and the punk declaration of relationship independence, “Not Your Whore.”
By Tine Roycroft
Ferguson first gave us a self-released CD in 2004: Shackles and Ties. Most recently, this talented gentleman released his latest musical marvel, a CD entitled Love Songs (and Other Tall Tales), through 5th Chakra Records. And Love Songs has made all Ferguson fans fall in love with his voice and story weaving all over again.
The song “Holding Me Down,” for example, starts the album off on a graceful note with piano, guitar and some gorgeous percussion. Don’t let the light-footed beauty allow you to drift away too quickly, though. Stick around and drink in Ferguson’s intense lyrics: “Can’t see through the tears. Trying to hold back the fear. That’s the only thing holding me down. That’s the only thing that keeps me coming around.” There’s definitely a story here.
Note the lovely accompanying vocals of Lori Diamond and Lyn O’Connor-Ferguson and swish the collection of smooth talent around like a full-bodied red wine. Fred Abatelli is on bass and electric guitar and Phil Punch is all over the percussion. Ferguson has assembled the best of the best with this CD.
The song “Revelation” hits the heart strings with a bluesy/folksy feel and once again forces listeners to muse over the questions that are not without complications. “Spirits rise and start to soar. Roll the dice and hope for more. Jesus saves. Will He save one more?”
There’s no easy way out when it comes to the stories within Ferguson’s music, or to the music itself. When you hop into the car with this guy, you’re there for the long haul and he’s painfully honest when it comes to his views of the world. There’s hurt, there’s hope, and there’s beauty in both. Just listen for it.
For more info, go to www.stuartferguson.net.