Bumpity Bump

Jumpin' Juba

Bonel'ss Records, 2004

REVIEW BY: Tammy Childs

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/25/2005

If you were to make a decision about this album based on the cover art you would just toss it in the can. Hopefully no one will pass up this band's work just because of cheesy graphics. At first impression, you might think Jumpin' Juba a bit dopey. Once you give it a chance, though, Bumpity Bump is an album of old-time "haus" blues done in a new and refreshing manner.

With what's described as a New Orleans party sound, the indie-band Jumpin' Juba is a festive collaboration primarily between two characters, Steve Hurl (guitar and vocals) and Bruce Ward (piano). Each has a history in the blues scene, and together they have established a style of performing that is so fun and energetic that it's easy to get caught up in their enthusiasm. They add secondary performers with Brian Flan on drums and Chris Denune on bass.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Bruce is the boogie-woogie piano man. His nimble fingers fly across the keyboard on "Fixated Woman." The song is chock full of hard-hitting notes and light-hearted lyrics like "I got a fixated woman with a one track mind / she got me hot and bothered but I like it just fine." The words go on to describe the need for pharmaceutical enhancements so he can keep up with this crazy woman. The fun-loving nature of this tune makes it obvious the band doesn't take itself too seriously.

The talent, however, is worthy of earnest attention on "Four Footed", an instrumental piece. It kicks butt with the rockin' piano and Bruce's jivin' abilities on the piano are exceptionally strong on this one. "Bruce's Boogie" is another instruments-only number. Lone pianist Ward plays both parts and does it with such little effort that you don't even realize that he has single-handedly performed what was originally arranged as a duet piece. I liked the multi-leveled capacity demonstrated, further evidence of the potential of this accomplished pianist.

Steve is the jammin' guitar player and "Back Door Blues" highlights his ability to pound out catchy chords that make you want to bounce around on the dance floor. It has a bit of hillbilly flavor to it, pulling in some of Steve's country influences. As a kid, Steve created his own comic strips -- perhaps that history influenced silly tunes like "Funny Farm." The corn-ball antics exemplified on this song also reverberate through the entire album, but this somehow does not diminish the finger-snappin', toe-tappin' good time you will have. As a whole, Hurl's guitar talents take a backseat to the keyboard ministrations of Ward, but nonetheless, you will be well entertained by Hurl's resounding blows to the acoustic, electric, six-string and slide guitars. He additionally contributes the vocals, which are unfortunately a bit gritty at times, but it's easy to ignore that shortcoming because the music on this album is full of life and charisma.

Combine great music with the band's intelligent sense of humor and it adds up to a charming album. Although it often comes off as a bit goofy, Bumpity Bump is still a razzin' good time.

Rating: B-

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© 2005 Tammy Childs and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Bonel'ss Records, and is used for informational purposes only.