Larry Schwartz 
 

Bo Jenkins 
Razorback Road 
"America's loss is Australia's gain" say the notes in this self funded album by Mentone based Jenkins, a share croppers son born in Bottleneck Arkansas. Like the great bluesman Albert King, he plays left handed , with the strings in reverse order; bass, at the bottom and treble at the top, twelve songs, bookended by Arkansas parts two and one (in that order), suggest Jenkins is a strong writer, with sparse backing by Peter Clifford and John Comiola (percussion) and Peter Bowman on Bass, guitar, keyboards and vocals, Jenkins has fired a broadside."
The Melbourne Age Green Guide
Key Notes
Mike Daly

Bo Jenkins 
Razorback Road 
EVERY so often a CD comes along that knocks your socks off. A self-financed solo debut by dynamic guitarist/singer Bo Jenikns, Road hooks you and never lets go, from the first to last cascades of notes on Arkansas Toothpick parts 2 and I respectively .The latter tracks are a picking tour de force reminiscent of Leo Kotte’s "machine-gun' attack. It's impossible to categories Jenkins, an Arkansas left-hander - a Deep Southpaw, you might say - with Native American, ancestry and, Delta blues in his blood. Bo settled down in Melbourne a few years ago and formed the Southern Electric Blues Band, passing on his virtuoso guitar technique in lessons and seminars. Country and blues are his but staples, but it is dangerous to pin labels. That muscular sound pervades all genres with equal force, from the country ballad A Stand By Your Man, Girl, with its blues licks, to the tender, pop accented Vanda (Stay yourself )- dedicated to his Australian wife - and the spurred and booted instrumental bravado of Morna's Got A Switch, Vanda tells me her favorite track is the homesick, slide-laced Let My Eyes See Arkansas ballad. I agree, but pyrotechnic blues-rockers such as Since My Woman Done Gone are equally impressive. 
Big Mike Hotz (Blues Presenter) 

5UV Radio Adelaide 531AM 
5MBS 101.5FM 
COAST FM 88.5FM 
 

Bo Jenkins 

Skin It Back 

Since seeing Bo Jenkins play live over a year ago, and listening to his first Australian release, “Razorback Road”, I’ve been conscious of how good a guitar player this southpaw Arkansas-born man is, but I was astonished by several aspects of his newest recording, “Skin It Back”. His guitar techniques are impeccable, as one would expect from a musician with his credentials. In fact I would go so far as to rate Bo as one of the top pickers in the country. But it’s the potency of his vocals as he powers his way through the mostly original set on this album, that sets this album apart from other recent Australian releases. 
Bo has also been canny enough to enlist the services of some top-notch players to back him.  An interesting point to the album is that Bo has used two different rhythm sections. Paul O’Brien (drums) & John Lebesis (bass) work very well together on four tunes, while Gary Young (drums) & Warwick Thomas (bass) are equally as solid on a couple. Thomas plays bass on another couple where Bo Jenkins himself provides the percussion via his stomp-box. Legendary Chris Wilson blows his mighty harp on four numbers, and Marion Turner gets a chance to show-off her harmonica prowess on “Tequila Worm Blues”. Ms Turner also handles some very impressive back-up vocals in the company of Chris DeRoche. 
But the undisputed star of this album is Bo Jenkins. Sensational guitar work, some brilliant ‘slide’, and as I’ve already stated, an extremely powerful vocal performance throughout 
The album opens with a homesick Jenkins singing about the virtues of the Mississippi delta in, “Get Back To The Delta”, where Bo was born and raised, and where his heart still lies. He kicks into “Train Train” next, an up tempo tune with a great little lead solo, and harp man Peter Harper is on fire. Pure Southern style music this, and nicely done. 
The stylish instrumental, “Joe” follows, proving Bo takes a backward step to no one with a ‘slide’ on his hand. When asked about the tune’s title, Bo stated, “The good thing about an instrumental is that I can call it any damned thing I want”. The hard driving, “50 Year Guarantee”. A humorous tune about marriage licenses. Adding to the humour are some of Bo’s corny guitar licks, and ain’t it grand. Then it’s time for the album’s high point for me, the beautiful, “Who’s To Blame”. More in a country style this one, but it is one of the best damned tunes I’ve heard in some time. A song of contentious issues, with the magnificent vocals of DeBoche and Turner backing Mr. Jenkins. Haunting stuff this, with it’s laid-back sax work provided by John Bisignano, and the understated piano of Jim Sifonios. (Saw Bo do this live, unaccompanied, brilliant). “Tequila Worm Blues” is next, with acoustic guitar and great harp. A song about swallowing the worm bobbing around in the tequila, something I’ve done a time or two. Move on to, “Jump Back Baby”, a country blues reminding me for a moment of Terry & McGhee without Terry’s whoops and hollers. Wilson’s harp is in complete accord with Bo’s guitar and stomp box, he never overplays and his sense of timing is superb. “Play Them Games” is another hard driving electric blues tune, and this is the one that blew me away on first listen vocally. Bo takes his voice right to the very limit on this album, sometimes straying over the line, but purposely so, with great phraseology, this man can sing folks, take it from me. And the more I listen to tunes such as “Whiskey Drinkin’ Woman”, the more I get into what this cat’s doing   Bo and the band settle into a groove and get the job done. Nothing fancy, or complicated, just good strong songs, from a man who simply knows what he’s doing. Wait until you hear Bo’s take on Leadbelly’s “Midnight Special”. Once again, vocal chords stretched to the max, mightily so, but I could listen to this all damn day. Sounds like it was a lot of fun to record. 
The CD’s closer is another Jenkins instrumental, the wonderful “Misty’s Sleeping”. The fingerpicking on this one is so delicate and fragile, and clean as a whistle and Bo, yes you got it. 
Southern style rock meets Blues meets New-Age Country; “Skin It Back” is one helluva CD. No music lover can afford to disregard this album. It’s feel-good material mostly, and I reckon there are a few around who could learn a lot from this humble man from Arkansas. 
The Melbourne Age
 

Review by Larry Schwartz

 

CD  SKIN IT BACK   by Bo Jenkins

“I think I got it.” Jenkins says at the end of the exquisite acoustic guitar solo on Misty's Sleeping, the last of 12 tracks on this fine follow-up to his critically acclaimed1998 debut Razorback Road. And got it he certainly has.  The left-hander, who hails from Bottleneck, Arkansas, has come up with yet another compelling set of blues-inflected southern rock, including three instrumentals.  Leadbelly’s Midnight Special is one of just two songs that is not self-penned.  Backed by an able mix of musicians including Chris Wilson, who plays harmonica on four tracks, Jenkins shows depth and diversity, ranging from electric to acoustic steel and dobro (on a track called Jump Back Baby,” strings in reverse order (in the manner of the late great Albert King), and with strong vocals that make you wonder why he has not been snapped up by a major label.

Home   Biography   Bo & Friends   CD's   Reviews   Books   Gig Guide   Guitars   Mailing List   Contact   Links
Home Biography Bo & Friends CD's Reviews Books Gig Guide Guitars Mailing List Contact Links