Blue Monday Monthly
Blues Blast Magazine
What comes to mind when you hear the words “live album?” Shrieking fans? Blistering instrumentation? Vocals reverberating louder than the aftermath of an atom bomb? The newest live release from Oregon’s Joanne Broh offers none of these, which is actually good news. She demonstrates that sheer volume isn’t the most important aspect of music. Not only that, but she presents “blues to lift you up,” as it succinctly states on her website. Her singing is clear and unpretentious, running the gamut of the alto range. Listening to her is like conversing with your favorite next-door neighbor. The warmth in her voice lets you know that you can tell her all your secrets, and she’ll even share a few of her own. Guitarist Garry Meziere, slide/second guitarist Jerry Zybach, bassist Bill Foss, and drummer Ed Pierce provide a rock-solid ensemble, playing real-deal blues without resorting to flashy instrumental tricks or overlong solos. Walter Herleman also guest stars on harmonica.
They please a Live audience with several time-honored blues covers including “Kitchen Man,” “Why Don’t You Do Right,” “Black Cat Bone,” and “I Don’t Care Who Knows.” Even though there’s not a lot of original material, that’s forgivable. Crowds like songs they know. Sing and dance along to your favorites, and enjoy the originals “Wicked Cool” and “Let’s Work on It.”
The following original is catchy and full of energy, certain to get concert-goers on their feet. Track 06: “Let’s Work On It” – No matter what the latest rom-coms say, relationships are hard work. “Let’s work on it baby, figure the whole thing out. Let’s work on it, darling. Let me tell you what it’s all about. You know I’m really going to love you. Don’t make me scream and shout.” Who among us hasn’t heard (or made) such a heartfelt plea? The bouncy beat and fantastic fretwork make number six as refreshing as something out of a six-pack.
“Broh,” give joyful Joanne a listen as she entertains Live!
Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 39 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.
Artists seem to push out live albums with almost alarming regularity and, when they are relatively unknown, it can be a showcase for a band in full flight. On the other hand, it can also reveal shortcomings and the quality of the recording can also be suspect…well, I am pleased to say that this album by Joanne Broh and her band fits firmly in the first category. She is from Eugene in the state of Oregon and Live was recorded there at Mac’s Nightclub & Restaurant. She has put together a set of eleven songs and, inevitably, with only one studio offering to pull from, mixes originals and covers that travel through blues with jazzy influences.
The show starts with a composition by guest harp player, Walter Herleman, and it immediately shows that the producer certainly had everything mic’d up properly so we can enjoy the neat slide guitar as well as the harp and, of course, Joanne’s well pitched vocals. The second song, Wicked Cool, is the title track from the band’s studio album and is a rapid shuffle with more subtle harp and great snare play. The guitar solo is equally subtle and has a good tone and fluidity. The first real cover is next and comes from the catalogue of Bessie Smith. Kitchen Man is true to the original but with the guitars brining it up to date with the gentle strumming and Joanne phrases the double entendres with tongue firmly in cheek…not literally of course! The guitar solos and duet are again modern and fitting. If you ever doubted the mucky humour that abounds in early blues, then the verse about eating doughnuts should convince! Blues Got Hold of My Head ups the pace with a bluesy slice of R’n’B that will get the toe tapping. A Kansas Joe McCoy song crops up next; Peggy Lee made Why Don’t You Do It Right her own and Joanne does a sterling job of transferring the ethos of the original to this slightly funereal paced song. It is a delightful interpretation by the entire band. Let’s Work On It is my current favourite due to the brilliant slide and picked solos and backing from the guitarists. It may follow some well-trodden paths in the structure, but it is most definitely a lot of fun. We get all funky for Bobby Bland’s I Ain’t Doing Too Bad where, again, the band put their own stamp on it. Fall In Love slows things down again and they deliver a lovely, pure serving of soulful blues with the slightest hint of jazz lounge thrown in. Wig Chalet is not, as I feared, pointed at me and my shiny pate, but is a humerous story of the composer’s vision of choosing from a bewildering choice of wigs. The composer is Kansas born vocalist Kelley Hunt…someone I was unaware of until I heard her stunning contribution to Duke Robbillard and His Dames of Rhythm release. Joanne takes this neat song from Kelley’s Beautiful Bones album and stays true to the original. A much older cover is next with Hop Wilson’s brilliant Black Cat Bone…significant enough of a song that Paul Kossoff’s pre-Free band was called just that. There is even a very slight Kossoff feel to the guitar intro…it is a hell of good song and Joanne and the band do a very good version and the guitar and bass work is a real treat. The set wraps up with another classic from the pen of Willie Dixon; I Don’t Care Who Knows is interpreted just right…the guitars are obviously modern but they evoke the time and feeling of the original.
This is a very enjoyable album…It is proficient, thoughtful and captures a band sharing an obvious love of music with a receptive audience.
Latest review from the Register Guard
“Joanne Broh ranges between blues and jazz with a soulful approachto her trademark ball-of-fire stage energy. Her band’s fluid musical interplay should only be expected with it’s mix of veterens of the blues community…” Register Guard April 12, 2019
Joanne Broh Live
(Double Y Records)
Joanne Broh works out of Eugene, Oregon and Live was recorded there at Mac’s Nightclub & Restaurant. Joanne opens the 11 song set with “Stand Back” an original by special guest on blues harp, Walter Herleman.
Jerry Zybach lays down some snarling slide guitar and Herleman shows his chops on harp too. This is followed by the title track from Broh’s Double Y Records debut , Wicked Cool, a double shuffle toe tapper. Joanne takes things way back for Bessie Smith’s “Kitchen Man” and goes into the driving “Blues Got a Hold of My Head” by guitarist Garry Meziere. Broh takes things back to yesteryear for Lil Green’s “Why Don’t You Do Right” penned by Kansas Joe McCoy (Memphis Minnie) later the first hit for Peggy Lee.
Next, they do another original from Wicked Cool, the swinging shuffle “Let’s Work On It” with more slithering slide work by Zybach and a sharp edged solo by Meziere. The band gets funky for Bobby Bland’s “I Ain’t Doing Too Bad,” with which he had chart success in 1964. They slow things down for Meziere’s “Fall in Love” to which Broh adds sultry vocals. Joanne does a solid take on Kelly Hunt’s humorous “Wig Chalet” singing “so many choices, it was more than I could take, be high bouffant, curly or straight/looking in the mirror it occurred to me, I can be what whatver I want to be/ hey, hey hey, down at the wig chalet.”
Meziere puts some piercing guitar licks on Hop Wilson’s “Black Cat Bone” aka “My Woman Has a Black Cat Bone.” Meziere gives a nod to the version by Albert Collins, Johnny Copeland and Robert Cray on the Grammy Award winning Showdown! Joanne closes out the vibrant set with an up-beat take on the Willie Dixon gem “I Don’t Care Who Knows” that he wrote for Harold Burrage back in 1957.
Highly recommended. Malcolm Kennedy – Washington Blues Society
If you ever go to see and hear Joanne Broh perform, chances are she’ll thank the audience at some point for coming out and supporting live music. For me, the thanks flow the other way– don’t know what I’d do or who I’d be in a world without music and the talented folks who make it happen. Joanne (commonly and accurately described as a “column of energy”) was at the Jazz Station Thursday night, fronting a killer band at a show at a show advertised as “From Ella to Etta: Fusion of Jazz & Blues.”
The music was sweet, the energy high, and the performers genuinely seemed to share a chemistry with one another as the night moved on. I think they may have been having as much fun as the audience. All praise to Joanne and her friends (guitarist Stephen Arriola, bass player Frank Tarentino, drummer Kenan Edler, and guest Walter Herleman on blues harmonica). Get out and see Joanne, she consistently performs not just in the Eugene area but in Portland, Silverton, Florence, vineyards far and wide…hell, even in Cottage Grove. And one more plug: she released a CD last year, “Wicked Cool,” and it’s worth buying and giving a listen. Wonderful show.
-Rod Williams March 31, 2018
Wicked Cool is the newest release from Eugene, Oregon’s Joanne Broh Band. Joanne was voted Best Female Vocalist twice by the Rainy Day Blues Society and the band was a finalist at a Cascade Blues Associations Journey to Memphis International Blues Challenge local competition.
Joanne sings and the band consists of Jerry Zybach on guitar, Jim Badalich on bass Gus Russell on keyboards and Dan E. Miller-drums. Wicked Cool opens with the title track a double shu e featuring Mitch Kashmar on blues harp. “(Shake ‘Er) Like Josephine Baker” features a horn section with Dave Bender and Sean Flannery on trumpets and Linda Kanter-sax with arrangements by Joe McCarthy.
One of the standouts is piano driven “Smokin’ Again” featuring Dana Heilman on a muted trumpet solo and Joanne’s emotive vocals as she sings “do you care that I’m smokin’ again/I stay up late, and I’m drinking your gin/I leave the lights on, ‘cause I might, I might disappear, if you’re not here, you make me real/that’s how I feel, I’m smokin’ again.” Mitch Kashmar’s harp appears again on the rollicking “Let’s Work It Out” which also features a short; but notable slide guitar solo by Zybach. “Sad ‘Ol Heart” is a heartfelt tune with acoustic guitar that could come out of Leanne Trevalyan’s songbook. “Bad Boy” shows yet another side with a touch of funk as Joanne sings “when we’re out on the town/everybody looks you up and down.”
Wicked Cool received the Rooster Award from the Rainy Day Blues Society for “Best New Local Recording” and charted at #18 on the Living Blues Radio Charts. Highly recommended. Malcolm Kennedy – Washington Blues Society
Blues Blast Magazine
August 4, 2016
The Joanne Broh band comes from Oregon and features Joanne on vocals, Jerry Zybach on guitar, Gus Russell on keyboards, Jim Badalich on bass and Dan e. Miller on drums: Mitch Kashmar adds harp to two tracks, Hank Shreve to one; Dana Heitman adds trumpet to one track and a full horn section of Joe McCarthy, Dave Bender, Sean Flannery and Linda Kanter plays on one cut. Several of the songs come from within the band, the rest from fellow West Coast musicians: Jerry had a hand in six songs, Jim four and Joanne two, Gus arranging a song from outside the band.
With a West Coast band you will expect to find some swing and the title track opens the disc with exactly that, an upbeat shuffle, Mitch Kashmar’s harp accents, Gus’ full sounding organ and Jerry’s light touch on guitar offering a solid foundation for Joanne’s clear vocals. “Gettin’ Old Blues” offers the view that you “go to bed young and you wake up old” and things don’t get any more cheerful when Joanne sings of your friends passing on if you last long enough – great piano though to offset the rather depressing lyrics!
The top pick here has to be the fabulous “(Shake ‘Er) Like Josephine Baker” which opens with jungle drums and the horn section riffing away behind Joanne’s expressive vocal that recounts the tale of the great singer who had to seek her fortune in Europe due to racial prejudice in the USA at the time. Another strong song is the funky “Bad Boy” in which Gus’ clavinet gives the tune a 70’s feel to which Jerry adds with some distorted guitar work. Lyrically Joanne does not sound too concerned that the title character has roving eyes as he remains hers at the end of the night; in fact she sounds quite happy that her guy is admired by other women!
Elsewhere the band offers us some late night blues on “Smokin’ Again”, some midpaced blues on “Two Way Street” (with Hank Shreve’s harp to the fore) and uptempo swing on “Let’s Work On It” (Mitch on harp again and fine piano and guitar solos). The band plays in acoustic vein on “Sad Ol’ Heart”, an older song from Jerry whose acoustic guitar is the only accompaniment to Joanne’s vocal on the first verse, the rhythm section joining in later on.
Overall this is a solid disc of mainly original material – worth a listen.
Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK who enjoys a wide variety of blues and roots music, especially anything in the ‘soul/blues’ category. Favorites include contemporary artists such as Curtis Salgado, Tad Robinson, Albert Castiglia and Doug Deming and classic artists including Bobby Bland, Howling Wolf and the three ‘Kings’. He gets over to the States as often as he can to see live blues.
Wicked Cool on the Radio
“Now, what the hipsters discovered many moons ago, before I-pods, before computers, before TV, was the REALLY Cool folks all hang out on the ‘Ray De Oh’!
June 19, 2016 on Hammered By The Blues (every Sunday on KOWZ 1170AM at 10pm, available for streaming replays on my website www.bluemondaymonthly.com on the Juke Box page June 19 thru July 22, 2016)
We set the bar high right off the bat as the Joanne Broh Band flat out brings it with tracks off ‘Wicked Cool’.” – John ‘blueshammer’ Hammer – Member of Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame- KOWZ, MN
Cascade Blues Association Review by Greg Johnson, president
The Joanne Broh Band’s latest album, Wicked Cool, has already reaped some mighty fine accolades. Recently receiving the Rainy Day Blues Society’s 2016 Rooster Award for best blues album, the disc is filled with the bluesy arrangements and vocals you’ve come to expect from one of the most beloved artists from the Eugene area.
Joanne’s voice fills many layers befitting the material. Most of the albums’ compositions are original numbers created by Broh, bassist Jim Badalich, and guitarist Jerry Zybach. There are a couple tracks from Zybach that stretch back to 2002 (Two Way Street) and 2003 (Sad Ol’ Heart). The band is rounded out with drummer Dan E. Miller and keyboardist Gus Russell.
There are also some hefty guests lending a hand to the selections as well, with harmonica players Mitch Kashmar and Hank Shreve, trumpeters Dana Heitman (The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies) and Dave Bender (The Flying Instruments of Karma, Emerald City Jazz Kings), and saxophonists Sean Flannery (formerly with The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies) and Linda Kanter. Portland’s Joe McCarthy’s produced the horn arrangements for the track Swing ‘Er Like Josephine Baker.
Plenty of emotions spin through Wicked Cool. From the funky beats of Bad Boy,” the tender heartfelt vocals on Sad Ol’ Heart, the biting guitar interludes on Getting’ Old and Let’s Work It Out, the loneliness within love lost in Smokin’ Again, to the closing Reap What You Sow with its R&B piano paced flavor. Overall, the album is a well-crafted sampling by a strong group of musicians with a truly remarkable lead vocalist that takes you on a musical journey that is not only cool, it’s Wicked Cool!
Time: 38:37 Wicked Cool / Getting’ Old Blues / (Shake “Er) Like Josephine Baker / Smokin’ Again / Two way Street / Let’s Work On It / Sad Ol’ Heart / Bad Boy / Reap What You Sow