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RJ Knapp & Honey Robin – Don’t Blame The Dynamite, If You Can’t Light The Fuse!

Critical Sun Recordings

15 tracks; 60 minutes

RJ Knapp was born in Chicago but has been on the Seattle scene for 30 years. This CD is almost entirely original material written by RJ with occasional assistance from Honey Robin Mahaffey (‘The Canary’) who sings backing and some lead vocals.

RJ (‘Blast Master’) handles most of the lead vocals and the guitar. The rhythm section also sport nicknames and provide b/v: Rob Baker (‘Powder Monkey’) is on bass and Rick J Bowen (‘Dr. Demo’) plays drums.

Lead-off track “I Call It The Bluz” is blues-rock with some powerful chords heralding the lyrics which demonstrate some touches of humour: “Don’t call me no rock and roller, I ain’t some funky white boy. Call it what you want to; me, I call it the blues”. Similarly “Don’t Let Your Mind Be Writing Checks” has the line “…that your mind can’t cash” after the title. Indeed, RJ demonstrates an ability to turn an amusing line on several of the songs here and “If The Blues Was Money” has some excellent opening slide work.

However, RJ’s deep, gruff voice (think Omar And The Howlers) does not always make for easy listening. Robin takes over the lead on just two songs, both quieter ballads. Her clear and deep voice sounds as if she was trained in the classical traditions and offers a contrast to RJ’s.

“Bus Stop Bluz” was a frustrating listen as RJ’s lyrics produce some very forced lines, allied to some irritating sound effects (boats, seagulls, planes, buses, etc). “Kirkland Krawl” is about a traffic black spot with a very repetitive riff and chorus; unfortunately the band decided that perhaps the title would not be meaningful to all, so a bonus track appears under the title “Concrete Crawl (for those outside the great NW)”!

RJ produces some strong guitar riffs across these 15 tracks, there are some nice touches of humor in the lyrics and it is always good to see bands producing original material.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. Current favorites from recent releases include Michael Burks, Little Feat, Sugar Ray and The Bluetones, Albert Castiglia, Johnny Rawls and Doug Deming.

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