Reggie Britton has been known for his fun collection of southern delta and Chicago new age blues. He may have been pumping originals and covers for only the past 26 years, but he’s been playing the blues for over 30 years with some of the old greats like “Eddie Snow & the Snowflakes, Oysters Rockefeller, Tom Irwin, and many other music groups. The players in his band, Dan Grover, Alexis Rodgers, Robert Hagler, and Willie Chrismon, bring over 60 years of experience to the table. Also, BMJ blues band has opened for some of the greatest blues acts around today such as KOKO Taylor, David Dee, Lonnie Brooks, and Ronnie Baker Brooks just to name a few. In 2004, 2005 and 2007. BMJ blues band was nominated as one of the best blues act in central Illinois and performed at the Great Performers of Illinois concert at Chicago’s Millennium Park with KOKO Taylor, David Dee, and many more in 2006. BMJ recorded their first CD titled Food for Thought in 2004, “Call Me in 2013 & and a new one “Walk with You Baby” 2014. Which features a lot of guesses like “James Armstrong, Frank Parker, Lawrence Boulden, Brook Thomas, John T. Crisp Jr., David Lumsden & Mark Rossello. In 2010 BMJ became the official blues band of the Springfield Milers Motorcycle Club and the most popular act among other Motorcycle Clubs and Blues Societies throughout Illinois and Iowa and other surrounding states. BMJ a great blues band has also had 2 songs on some of the international blues top 10 list.
Black Magic Johnson – Call Me
Wiggy Jerk Productions
Do any of you, like me, still salivate when listening to records like the old Black Arts LP ‘My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama’ ? Well if you do then there is a treat in store for you when you listen to ‘Call Me’ by Black Magic Johnson.
“Poncey blues this ain’t” – BMJ lay down twelve tracks of hard-core jook-joint blues that are definitely not for the fain-hearted. Reggie Britton, Dan Grover, Alexis Rogers and Suit & Tie Guy have released possibly the finest downhome blues record of the year to date. Whether it’s ‘Crazy About You Baby’ with it’s “dirty” vocals, trashcan drums and demented Freddie King styled guitar – or the downhome funk of ‘Loving Ways’ replete with cow-bells and fuzzy guitar – or the jook-joint jumper ‘You Tell Me’ with it’s shattering, clattering backbeat – or ‘Standing By Me’ where Britton sounds like a backwoods Arthur Alexander – BMJ deliver, as Smokey Wilson would say, “Real Deal Blues” all the way.
‘Thank You Baby’ is a gem delivering old-time Southern gospel acapella style – ‘Blues Traveller’ is an hypnotic grinding bar-room blues replete with buzzing guitar and more of those cow-bells – ‘Water From A Rock’ finds the guitarist bending notes “any which way but loose” – whilst the title track is a 50’s R&B ballad that slows the tempo down temporarily.
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‘Walk With You Baby’ is a refreshingly honest and delightful contemporary blues album. It’s rooted in traditional blues but is given a contemporary relevance by the shared universal truths to be found in the songs.
It’s easy to mistake Illinois’s Black Magic Johnson for the harp playing drummer and lead vocalist Reggie Britton. He’s a ubiquitous vocal presence on ‘Walk With You Baby’, a blues album rooted in everyday life that encompasses love stories, urban angst and celebratory gospel.
The band is actually the intricate sum of its parts, comprising the tasty guitar and mandolin (yes mandolin) playing of Alex Rogers, fellow guitarist Dan Grover, keyboard player and programmer Lawrence Baulden and bass player Willie Christman. Together with Reggie’s heartfelt phrasing and a handful of guests, the road tested band always supports the singer and the song, rather than trying to dominate both with their virtuosity.
If you looking for ball busting solos and stretched out jams you’ve come to the wrong place, as this is the blues as a language that speaks to you from the heart. BMJ conjure up their own brand of magic, which has been described as a mix of Southern Delta and Chicago new age blues. And while there’s Chicago blues at the heart of this project, Reggie expressive vocals and the band’s adventurous arrangements mean they also stretch out beyond straight blues to broach, funk, soul r&b and gospel.
The album reflects Reggie own views on the relevance of blues in contemporary life, which he has defined as: ‘The struggle of a people in a lifestyle that they were thrown into’. Guitarist Alex Rogers also adds: ‘The Blues is a natural fact, the raw emotion juice that flows through all American music’. And when the two of them become the driving force of BMJ, you are listening to a band that makes every word count and gives every musical phrase an impact.s and gets excited about it.
This might be this bands first album on the open blues market but this album holds it own. With songs written by Reggie Britton and others like his friend Tom Irwin. We look to here more from Black magic Johnson in the future. This albums has made Blues Blast top 10 albums list.
Black Magic Johnson has won the Illinois Times best blues band four years in a row 2011,2012,2013 and 2014.
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