Blues Underground Network
Big Joe And The Dynaflows "You Can't Keep A Big Man Down"
The liner notes for "You Can't Keep A Big Man Down", start off by saying "Big Joe Maher is among the finest drummers and vocalists on the scene today". A bold statement indeed, but one that you will soon find more then fitting once you have started listening to his great new release.
"You Can't Keep A Big Man Down" marks the 3rd release for Big Joe And The Dynaflows on the Severn Record Label. Previous Severn releases included "I'm Still Swingin" and "All Night Long". "I'm Still Swingin" received a WAMA (Washington Area Music Association) for "Best Blues Recording" in 1998.
Big Joe Maher's list of credits is said to be like a Who's Who, when it concerns Jazz & Blues, after all he has been plying his trade now for over 30 years. Joe started playing at an early age and with the help of Col. Joe Carley, whom was the Director of the high school Jazz band that he played in, he was quickly introduced to some of the greats that were invited to sit in with him, such as, Clark Terry, Urbie Green, Mudell Lowe, James Moody, and more. Not long after high school he set out on his own, forming a Jazz Trio and hitting the road, which soon saw him sharing the stage and backing up a whole new batch of great musicians including "Jimmy Witherspoon, Bullmoose Jackson, James "Thunderbird" Davis, Nappy Brown, Otis Rush, Earl King", plus many more. His present band, Big Joe And The Dynaflows, was formed in the late 80's, this after he had already been performing in and acting as the manager for a 9 piece Swing band called "The Uptown Rhythm Kings". Also previous to the creation of Big Joe And The Dynaflows, he was on board with the great Tom Principato Band as Drummer.
"You Can't Keep A Big Man Down" consists of 12 Tracks mainly done in the vain of Jump Style Blues, with the odd track bordering on a little Funk and Swing feel, with great flavors of New Orleans, Chicago, Texas, and Beyond Blues. Six of the Tracks are Covers and six are Originals, with Big Joe Maher solely writing four songs and co-writing two in whole or part, with R. Maher, P. Maher, Bill Campbell, and Rob McNelley. Band members for "You Can't Keep A Big Man Down" included Big Joe Maher (Drums/Vocals), Kevin McKendree (Piano/Organ), Bill Campbell (Bass), Rob McNelley (Guitar), Dennis Taylor (Saxophone) and was produced by Kevin McKendree and Big Joe Maher.
"You Can't Keep A Big Man Down" starts off with the first Original, which is the title track, "You Can't Keep a Big Man Down", a great Chicago Blues style tune that gets you acquainted with the great guitar playing of Rob McNelley and quickly shows you why he is part of Big Joe And The Dynaflows.
The second track, "Bad Case of Love", is the first cover on "You Can't Keep A Big Man Down", and starts off with a great intro courtesy of Dennis Taylor on Saxophone. This B.B. King song is simply done to perfection, especially with the great vocals and drumming of Big Joe Maher.
Other Covers on "You Can't Keep A Big Man Down", are Whatcha Gonna Do? (Billy Wright), Someday (Johnny Green), Confessin' the Blues
(J. McShann/Walter Brown), I'm to Blame (J. McCracklin) and What the Hell Were You Thinkin'? (Mcclinton/McKendree/Hambridge). All the covers are done extremely well and fit into the general theme of "You Can't Keep A Big Man Down" in a logical and well done fashion.
I found all the Originals to be very well written and performed and they cover the gamut of styles from "Evangeline", a sound reminiscent of
Elvis Presley, in the slower vain. to "Nothin' But Trouble", a great slow song which is highlighted by the amazingly youthful feel of Big Joe Maher's vocals as well as, all the other magic brought into it courtesy of all the other great band members.
"You Can't Keep A Big Man Down" closes off with a nice Jerry Lee Lewis sounding track called "What the Hell Were You Thinkin'?" and features the magical piano work of Kevin McKendree. Kevin McKendree also co-wrote that song.
"You Can't Keep A Big Man Down" is a great bluesy musical romp, put together via Big Joe Maher and his exceptional group of fellow Artists. This release not only shows us that Big Joe Maher is indeed "among the finest drummers and vocalists on the scene today", but it also shows us that together as with "The Dynaflows", he also is part of one of the better bands on the scene today.
"You Can't Keep A Big Man Down" was a great introduction to an Artist and Band I was not really aware of. Great Stuff... Highly Recommended.
Review by John H. Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)
1. You Can't Keep a Big Man Down
2. Bad Case of Love
4. Property Line
5. Whatcha Gonna Do?
7. Confessin' the Blues
8. Face the Facts
10. Nothin' But Trouble
11. I'm to Blame
12. What the Hell Were You Thinkin'?
Listen To Samples Here...
You Can't Keep a Big Man Down' reunites veteran blues singer/drummer Big Joe Maher with Severn Records, which released both his 1998 album, 'I'm Still Swingin'' (winning a Washington Area Music Association award for 'Best Blues Recording'), and his 2000 release, 'All Night Long'. 'You Can't Keep a Big Down' showcases Big Joe's bluesy, swinging vocal style and rock-solid drumming on 12 tracks, evenly split between originals and covers. Whether it's the rollicking Chicago blues of the title track, the New Orleans influenced 'Evangeline,' the Texas blues sound of 'Bad Case of Love,' or the Kansas City jump style of 'Confessin' the Blues,' Big Joe always delivers the goods on arguably his strongest album ever in a critically-acclaimed career.