Harmonica Buzz loves to explore the multiple boundary-crossings among folk, blues, bluegrass and country music. His performance ... promises to drop listeners right into this thicket. Lawrence Constenino ~ Lansing City Pulse ~ 9/15/04
THE JOURNEY: over 60 minutes of music
Tracks 1-5: Acoustic Jump Blues.
Tracks 6-8: Country Blues from the Back Porch.
Tracks 9-10: Rockin' in the Garage w/ Guitars.
Tracks 11-14: Songwriting w/ Soul.
Track 15-20: Big Train Songs and Rockabilly Jams.
Buzz (Vocals & Harp)
Sara Q (Guitar, Bass & Vocals)
Michigan Mark Depree (Guitars, Bass, Vocals & Recording)
Stan Budzynski (Guitar & Recording)
Alonzo Pennington (Guitar & Bass)
Eddie Pennington (Recording)
Dean Hughes (Drums)
Dave Boutette (Guitar)
Andy Springsteen (Guitar & Vocals)
Jacob Clyde (Guitar & Mystery Red Guitar)
Margie Donovan (Sings Like an Angel)
Hailey Wojcik (backing vocals)
And Amazingly Appearing from out of the Past:
"The Harmonica Wizard" ... DeFord Bailey
CD REVIEW : The Blues Ambassador, August 2003
Harmonica Buzz is a blues hipster hailing from our very own Okemos, Michigan and he is a favorite son we can be proud of. His philosophy of "less is more" infuses this record with a relaxed and jammy feel. Loose, unorganized jams can often be dullness that passeth all understanding but HB's are short and sweet. He makes his point and then he's outta there. But Buzz is not miserly with his music. Even though the songs are brief and to the point, he packs 20 of them. The first song is fairly typical of most of the record. "But It Helps" has Buzz on harp and vocals with acoustic guitar rhythm supplied by a cat monikered Michigan Mark and subtle bass by Sara Q. It reminds me of the kind of sassy, bluesy vocal Rickie Lee Jones might do.
Another nice thing about the CD is Buzz calls in new friends for assistance after every 3 or 4 songs. "If I Find a Bell" does a Doobie Brothers kind of rhythm with better-than-Doobie results. Alonzo Pennington is on guitar and Dean Hughes does drums. Informality continues to rule. "The Colin Shuffle" is a nice jazzy shuffle instrumental with bass, brushes, harp and guitar. "Makin' Whoopee" is the standard done as a duet instrumental with Dave Boutette on guitar. "Trev Mo" is a fast and snappy guitar-harp instrumental co-authored with Andy Springsteen (yes, that Springsteen but the actual Boss connection was not made clear). "Home : The Carpenter's Song" has Michigan Mark doing Travis-style fingerwork and the result is backporch in the best sense of the word. HB strives for a live, one take feel on everything and that gives a very friendly feel to the record.
There are nice shifts in the mood throughout the CD. For example, "The Black and White" departs from the shuffle format into Chuck Berry style rock but in a spare way with only boogie rhythm guitar and the spare but rocking sound recalls some of the cuts from Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska album. "That Rhyming Phrase" has a ragtime feel. "Lucy's Feet" is a charming little ditty about singer-songwriter Lucy Webster's feet. You can let your mind run wild with that. "The Miracle Stop" features introductory footage by the legendary DeFord Bailey doing his train on harp. This then segues into a fast shuffle with a Johnny Cash-type boom-chucka-boom rhythm guitar.
There's lots of good blues fun in this generously packed and lovingly made CD, I hope this helps generate some buzz about the Buzz. - Steve Bachleda, Capital Area Blues Society
It's great to hear DeFord's train rolling again on Buzz's excellent CD. The "Harmonica Wizard" would have been quite pleased both with the music and the tribute to him. - David C. Morton, biographer and friend of DeFord Bailey
Please check out DeFord Bailey cruising along at the beginning of The Miracle Stop. He played the Grand Ole Opry from 1925 to 1941. Bill Monroe and Roy Acuff would take Bailey on the road with them when they were starting out because DeFord, as a radio star, was a draw. People would come to see "The Harmonica Wizard" sight unseen.
This clip of Bailey's 1927 recording of Pan Amercian Blues comes courtesy of Document Records "The world's largest catalogue for Vintage Blues, Gospel, Spirituals, Jazz and Country Music" ( www.document-records.com )
INDEPENDENT MUSIC ... IT'S GREAT IF YOU WANT IT
NOTE : Long Way to Memphis is an excellent CD to learn to play harmonica with and jam to ... it includes a key chart that will help you pick the right harmonica for each song.
CD REVIEW : All Music Guide (4 1/2 Stars)
Reverent ~ Organic ~ Earthy ~ Amiable ~ Good-Natured ~ Intimate ~ Bright ~ Gritty ~ Energetic ~ Earnest
Harmonica Buzz is J.T. Sunden, a Michigan roots and blues harmonica player whose reverence for the form doesn't prevent him from having a whole lot of fun on Long Way to Memphis, his debut album. There is a wonderful, back-porch feel on this disc, but its seemingly loose style actually belies some crisp ensemble playing, and what may appear haphazard here is actually calculatingly exact. This is a hard road to walk, between casual and precise, but it works here, and Long Way to Memphis has charm to burn.
Highlights include "The Colin Shuffle," which features some fine guitar from Alonzo Pennington and the marvelous vocal interplay between Michigan Mark DePree and Sara Q on "The Cornbread Jinx." A paean to songwriter Lucy Webster's feet called, amazingly enough, "Lucy's Feet," works surprisingly well, given the odds. A sample of harmonica wizard DeFord Bailey "doing his train" opens "The Miracle Stop," which is perhaps the most impressive track here.
There are harmonicas everywhere on these songs, of course, but it would be wrong to call this a harmonica album. It really feels like a personal journey through American roots music with a man who just happens to always carry his harps, just in case. - Steve Leggett, All Music Guide