Friday, September 4, 2015


It is so great to hear from blues performers all over the world, but when a blues CD arrives in the post, that is very “old school” and special and I like it. Before even confirming the name of the CD, it was quickly ripped open and tossed in the player.

Right from track one, Arizona Blues Hall of Fame harmonica player Johnny Tanner delivers a harmonious harp style with shouting, jumping perfect-pitch vocals making for a fine combination and mix of blues styles.

The musicianship on this CD entitled “Juke Joint Rambler” is tight and on the money.  There are ballads like “Searching the World Over”, whereby Tanner has let his mastery of his harp really shine. The guitarist Jr. Watson really knows his notes - picking them up clear and clean.

The production of this CD is really well done from the packaging down to the photography of the happy Tanner smile reaching out across the cover.

I sent a quick question off to Johnny about his production and this was his response…

“Both recording sessions were in the studio. The Pasadena session was on ADAT (digital)  , everything was recorded in four hours , no rehearsal , one take per song , I over dubbed the horns later. The Berkeley session was recorded on 2 inch tape (1960's machine )  , that was a full day in the studio.  I did my best to try and blend the different sessions together.”

“Bring her Back to Me” is my favourite track as it has that jump and jive, swinging blues beat that I adore.  Fred Kaplan on keys brings the syncopation to the front and Larry Taylor on bass keeps the song solid.

However, the track called Blue Vapor is really the Tanner showcase with its haunting walking blues strut and fine note picking. Buddy Paul is really going to enjoy it.

When I was reading Johnny Tanners profile, the best story in it takes place in 1974 when Johnny hit the road and literally ran down to get in line for the Muddy Waters concert in Scottsdale and no one was there. He was able to hang out with the band and the legendary Jerry Portnoy (Muddy’s harp player) showed him how to properly play the harp. How special is that CBBlues fans?

In his younger, impressionable days, Tanner decided to hitch hiking up to Chicago. It was there that Johnny took some lessons from Big Walter and James Cotton. He later went on to perform a show or two with them, as well as Jr. Wells. All the big boys as they say were in the house!!

From there on, Johnny’s CV reads like a who’s who of blues history and legends.  Check out this link to Tanners history pictures - really fun stuff -

The CD is dedicated to his good friends Kim Wilson and Lazy Lester. How cool is that?

It is on CD BABY - here is the direct link -

Thank you for the CD - Mr. Johnny Tanner and we hope to see and hear you in Spain one day soon :)

karla d.