Here are 3 current reviews:
This is Wholesome harp! Uncooked and real. You've heard the club sound, the soulful licks of some of the greats jump, swing and gospel tunes, but when's the last time you've heard traditions in its purest form? Imagine sittin' in on the first performances of Charlie McCoy, Jon Gindick, or Norton Buffalo you'd know they were gonna be stars. Well, if you didn't get the chance to hear these guys coming up, you don't want to miss Harpin' Jonny. You'll be able to say, "Yeah, I remember when..." Homegrown and wholesome come hear him. " Harpin' Around."
Harpin' Jonny is an amazing harmonica player based in Santa Cruz California with one wonderful album. The tracks feature some of the foremost musicians on the Central Coast of California, including Tiran Porter of The Doobie Brothers, Ken Kraft and Bob O'neill of The Snail Band, Larry Hosford and more.
The true talent of a musician is not measured in the number of notes played, but rather the choice of notes played. Therein lies the strength of this new release by Santa Cruz stalwart Harpin; Jonny Troutner, who spends his days selling stones at Antolini Company. Instead of showing off with John Popper-like wanking. Jonny plays only what's right for the song. On the opening Doobie Brothers-esque "When the Train Comes," his harmonica plays second fiddle to the almighty song, and the strong harmony voacals of lead singer Craig Owens and Troutner's daughter Lisa.
Piedmont-style blues renditions of Muddy Waters' "Long Distance Call" and Doc Watson's "Southbound" let Jonny pull out his best blues chops, though he never overpowers the accompanying acoustic guitar and vocals from Jim Roy. In fact, Jonny doesn't sing at all on this record. Jonny has always kept quality company in his gigging around town, and this release is no different. Underground country star Larry Hosford sings a pair of cuts including his own novelty gem "Condition Crazy."
Stormin' Norman's guitarist Peter Clark contributes lead vocals and guitar to a few tracks including his own "Sunnytown," Where Jonny colors the music with his chromatic harp. Former Snail guitarist Ken Kraft's parts are typically solid, particularly his rich slide guitar tone on Bobby Troup's "Girl Can't Help It," and his tasteful electric chops on Chuck Berry's "Jaguar and Thunderbird."
The lineup also includes top local players such as former Doobie Brother Tiran Porter, as well as Jim Norris and Gary Kehoe. But no egos are clamoring for attention here, and the team works well as a cohesive unit.
Harpin' Jonny Bio:
What does a hard-working masonry supplier do at the end of the day? Blow harp. Blow it hard.
At least that's what you'll find "Harpin' Jonny" Troutner, owner of Santa Cruz masonry supply company Antolini's, doing. Night after night, Troutner, his trusty Special 20 or Lee Oscar in hand, can be found blowing sweet and ruckus notes in clubs up and down California's Central Coast.
With a repertoire of traditional blues, rock and bluegrass, Troutner is well-known in local music circles as the guy you really want to have approach the stage and ask, "Hey, can I sit in?" But more likely than not, Troutner himself will be the main act, fronting bands in clubs from Santa Cruz to Lake Tahoe.
Now, after 15 years of live performances and studio jamming, Troutner has put out his own album. Harpin' Around, released in late 2001, boasts a bevy of musical talent eager to lend licks and lyrics to a first-rate release by one of the most respected harmonica players around.
The album features country picker Larry Hosford, Craig Owens and his soaring vocals, Ken Kraft of Snail, who also produced the album, former Doobie Brother Tiran Porter, Jim Roy and Peter Clark, among others.
With covers like "Southbound," by Doc and Merle Watson; "Jaguar and Thunderbird," by Chuck Berry; "Walkin' Blues," by Robert Johnson; and "Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat," by Bob Dylan; as well as originals by Hosford and Clark, the album is a feel-good blues romp tinged with country walk, traveling tunes and heartbreaking ballads. Throughout, Troutner's harp playing steadily guides the music.
The album also confirms Troutner's reputation as a musician who puts music first, not ego. He knows he has an orchestra of talent on his hands and lets his collaborators do their thing, placing his well-timed and perfectly accented playing right where it makes the most impact. On "Sunnytown," for example, Troutner hangs in the background whispering a lonely echo while Clark and sax player Chaz Alley tell a sultry story of love gone wrong. And on "Too Many Drivers," Troutner shares lead with Owens and former Snail guitarist Bob O'Neil. He offers a beautiful high-note reminiscence on Boz Scaggs' "I'll Be Long Gone"; and blows a locomotive-strength ride on the rollicking "When the Train Comes," which also features his daughter Lisa on vocals.
Troutner is the first to admit he didn't grow up listening to the traditional blues masters normally cited as influences to today's blues musicians. Instead his tutelage came from modern harp players, such as Charlie Musselwhite, Rod Piazza, Tom Ball and Norton Buffalo.
"They were doing more things with harmonica than players in the past; different styles and positions that appealed to me," he says.
Back in high school, Troutner headed a band called the Ragtime Jugs, a tongue-and-cheek act that crooned such standards as "Clementine" and "Turkey in the Straw."
It wasn't until later on that he started playing the blues/rock standards that have earned him the moniker Harpin' Jonny. But playing blues isn't all Troutner does. He has collaborated with San Francisco Bay Area jazz guitarist Adlai Alexander, and cites a professional goal to become an accomplished chromatic harp player in the style of jazz harp master Toots Thielsman.
Troutner is already known to audiences worldwide for his jingles and commercials for Santa Cruz musical institution KPIG 107.5 FM, named the most frequented Internet radio station in the world. He can also be found in the studio, sitting in on recordings for Larry Hosford and Stormin' Norman and the Cyclones, among others.
Riding high on wide praise from his first album, Troutner says he is already thinking about another featuring his own songs. But for now he is happy to keep playing with the keen talent that surrounds him, and blowing his harp any chance he can get.
"Sometimes, on a really good night, during a really good song you just hit a bunch of really good notes and there's nothing like it," he muses. "It's definitely better than selling bricks."