JD Simo may or may not be a name you are already aware of but if this amazing American musician has so far passed you by then you are urged to stop and check out the man and his amazing music immediately.
The Chicago born but Nashville based guitarist, singer and songwriter is a bluesman who has progressed his sound and style to encompass psychedelic rock as well as a delicious helping of heartfelt soul. I’m writing this on the day that we lost the elemental genius Jeff Beck and was feeling rather down but, truth be told, Simo has helped restore my spirits by proving that as one old timer leaves the stage there is always a new gunslinger in the wings simply awaiting his chance.
JD Simo is no green apprentice but a fully-fledged bluesman with several amazing albums in his locker and a developing reputation as a ‘go to’ guitarist as the likes of Jack White, Tommy Emmanuel, Luther Dickinson, Dave Cobb, Blackberry Smoke and Grateful Dead founder Phil Lesh will surely testify. If you are into guitarists like Beck, Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Robin Trower, George Thorogood, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Joe Bonamassa then Simo is a delight simply awaiting your discovery. He began under the name of Simo with psychedelia being a big part of his blues approach but he retired the name and re-branded simply as JD Simo although the format of both bands remains effectively the same being a power trio comprising some truly gifted musicians and all with a fondness for experimentation and taking the music in quite unexpected directions. The 2020 album JD Simo had a definite soul slant and featured some wonderful covers of material associated with James Brown, Willie Johnson, Earl Hooker and Isaac Hayes and his interpretation certainly showcased a different side of his music with Mind Control from 2021 being a more back to his traditional blues roots album with lots of reverb and distortion giving a delightful Sixties vibe back when rock and the blues were melding into a new, dangerous, bad and highly effective music form.
His new album again offers something different to the listener being an album with a raw and harsh edge which is totally intentional as Simo and band recorded the five tracks over a couple of days and wanted the songs to have that free, live and spontaneous feel that makes the blues such an elemental force. Simo has again incorporated a huge Sixties psychedelic flavour to the recordings which means this is an album that could be from 1967 just as easily as it is from 2022 and will surely leave you open jawed in admiration. Simo has also freshened up the band a little with bassist Adam Bednarik departing being replaced by Todd Bolden although long time drumming partner Adam Abrashoff remains and he is integral to the power and intensity of the band. Bolden has settled in perfectly and adds an extra dimension to the music with plenty of inspired and incisive bass coupled with a wondrously deft touch. This all then allows JD Simo to riff and solo with fuzz filled abandon with his stunning psychedelic playing hinting at Hendrix at his most inspired.
The album features five tracks with Simo again paying homage to the greats of yesteryear with stunning versions of some rather intriguing and unexpected tracks with John Coltrane’s interpretation of Afro Blue by Mongo Santamaria, Blind Alfred Reed’s How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live and Mississippi Fred McDowell’s Mortgage On My Soul. To try and cover those masters note for note is to court disaster and risk the wrath of any blues traditionalist but to take the themes and develop them in your own inimitable style is the way of the blues and Simo gives them all a brand-new sound so much so that they rather play like JD Simo new compositions. The two remaining tracks are Missy’s Strut which is a new and most Funkadelic composition having been inspired by the American Sixties funk band The Meters and they are still operating in one form of another and the lengthy closing track is Higher Plane Pt.1 & Pt which is a free form, extended and expanded version of the song which originally featured on the album 2020 album JD Simo. This one track alone should come with the warning Attention – Genius At Work and if this new version does not move and inspire you then you are most probably dead.
Just consider, if JD Simo himself states that the album features “my best playing ever captured’ then you simply must sit up and take notice. No Simo album is ever the same as he continues to push at the boundaries with Songs From The House Of Grease being something of a ‘freak out’ from the Sixties and is most probably a sound that could have been created by Jimi Hendrix experimenting with funk rock with Cream and The Grateful Dead calling in to jam!
Songs From The House Of Grease
- Mortgage on My Soul (7:05)
- Afro Blue (8:28)
- Missy’s Strut (3:55)
- How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live (6:11)
- Higher Plane Pt.1 & Pt. 2 (12:53)