Nick's Picks: I swear to God I cannot decide - it is all so good

Review by Steven "Nick" Nickelson of The 44sAmericana :

As I have mentioned many times, there really is no ego in the Blues business. What makes blues music so great is the sense that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts - in this case, a collection of four extremely talented musicians playing vintage instruments and channeling roots blues artists like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Albert Collins - to name a few. I am seeing a growing trend of talented artists (the key words here) recording on vintage instruments. (I recently reviewed The Fuzzrites, a talented local band). This band has taken those instruments and turned the blues scene upside down. It is difficult to believe that all that big sound comes from such a small band (IMHO)! That couldn't be more explicit by the recordings on this cd. First up, we are treated to some tight and spitfire fast smokin' jump-style blues ("Hanging Tree") led by gritty vocals and and equally gritty harmonica. And from there it just gets better and better, as witnessed by the next cut ("Lady Luck") featuring special guest and benefactor, Kid Ramos (The Fabulous Thunderbirds) on guitar. We can count on solid rhythms from upright bass/Fender Bass and the traps on all songs - no matter what the tempo. From the start, this true blues album exhibits all that is great about the genre. From the wonderful guitar solos and smooth vocals of singer Johnny Main, through the classic and blowsy harmonica accompaniment to rock solid rhythms and occasional mournful sax parts, this is simply an outstanding presentation. As is so often the case with the blues , their pain is our gain ("Hard Times"). Having been a fan of the blues for many, many years, I am often surprised by the number of best bluesmen I had never heard of. Such is the case here, and this is only this band's sophomore album! Rarely do I give an resounding recommendation on first listening, but I have no hesitation in giving this the Nick's Picks seal of approval. And that's my two nickels' worth........................Nick


The 44's are a Los Angeles-based band who play blues-roots-rock music. The 44's are one the brightest rising stars on the American blues roots scene. Make no mistake about it. The raw rough and tough sounds generated by these four expert musicians during live performances and in the making of their Sophomore album, Americana, on the Rip Cat label, demands to be heard by Blues music fans World Wide. They evidence a genuine gift for creating blues in the moment while at the same time showing loyalty to a remarkable blues-and-r&b tradition that goes back decades through the James Harman Band and the Red Devils to storied greats like Howlin' Wolf, Albert Collins, and Muddy Waters. They've become a favorite band of club and festival crowds across North America. The 44's seem to be literally exploding across the Blues scene as a fully formed and functional unit commanding audiences with their in your face, yet highly contagious musical sound. Their first Release "Boogie Disease", Was self produced for $800 with the Help of Guitar Great Kid Ramos (The Fabulous Thunderbirds, The Mannish Boys) and was quickly snatched up and issued on Rip Cat Records, hitting a peak position of No. 12 on the national Living Blues radio charts and No.2 on BB King Bluesville Sirius/XM Satellite Radio. Critical praise and industry recognition from the blues community soon followed. American Blues News Awarded the Band with The Best Blues Band of 2011 and Blues Underground Network Awarded the Band with Best Debut Album. They play vintage instruments and channel a blues style of days past, but there is a distinct Rawness to this blues award winning quartet. Each band member is in fine form. Johnny Main grounds his outstanding singing and guitar playing in real experience--his talent's as honest as the day is long. Tex Nakamura has forged his own stirring voice from studying Little Walter and other legendary harmonica mentors. Bassist Mike Turturro with his Gut String Bass and drummer J. R. Lozano's Vintage Ludwig Kit are as solid a team as any you'll hear, calibrating rhythmic flow with alertness and intelligence, never calling undue attention to themselves. For their one-of-a-kind blues, The 44's successfully mine the tension. Kid Ramos say's of his experience with The 44's "They play like their life depends on it and you can quote me" American Blues News Says "One of the Hardest working, hardest playing blues outfits anywhere." Touring Non-stop since 2010, they've garnered a whole new generation of first-time young blues- roots fans, as well as older ones who recognize the talents of these four musicians. The 44's are at the top of their game and with the much anticipated Sophomore Release "Americana" on Rip Cat Records. They have brought together a top notch cast of characters. Kid Ramos joins the band in the producer's chair and Guest Guitar Appearances. The Mixing Chair is being filled by the Legendary David Z (Credits Include Buddy Guy, Etta James, John Mayall).

The Musicians:

・ Johnny Main - vocals, guitar

・ Mike Turturro - upright, electric bass

・ Tex Nakamura - harmonica

・ Jason Lozano - drums

Special Guests:

・ Kid Ramos - kickass guitar, slide guitar

・ Ron Dziuba - horns, sax

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

The opinions expressed in these reviews are those of the individual volunteers that submitted the article and do not necessarily reflect the views of WYCE or GRCMC; nor its staff, donors, or affiliates.