Hearing John McVey and his band play takes you back to the era of small blues venues with talented guitarists who had honed their skills to an amazing level and you're privileged enough to hear them play from 10 feet away. You can feel the raw emotion, energy and sweat that pour out from every song.
Michael Point of Down Beat reviewed John McVey's "Roadhouse Stomp". His review is below.
Veteran Texas guitar genius John McVey doesn’t pay much attention to trends and influences and all the other musical aspects that distract many bluesmen. He doesn’t need to because McVey delivers full-grown, man-size blues drawn directly from his own life.
And McVey delivers them with electrifying energy and exceptional expertise each and every time he plugs in. Put McVey on stage and the sparks fly as yet another road house venue gets stomped down by fans caught up in the fun and fury of his blistering barb-wire blues approach.
McVey’s prodigious guitar virtuosity is such that he doesn’t need tricks or gimmicks to get and keep the attention of his listeners. His blues is the straight-forward real deal and it’s in your face from first note to last. His early days playing in the bands of hard-core blues icons like Larry “Texas Flood” Davis and Miss Lavelle White grounded his sound in the music’s tradition, one he continues to embellish with personalized innovations and unquestionable authenticity.
McVey’s uniformly excellent Doc Blues Records release “Gone to Texas” gave his legion of fans something to listen to when he was on the road but like any blues guitarist worth his pick McVey thrives in a live setting where things can get a bit raucous and rowdy. Drinks get spilled, an occasional table may be danced on or overturned and the blues rules in its most basic form.
McVey reprises and substantially energizes some of the “Gone to Texas” tunes, most of which were his own compositions, in this live collection taken from a radio broadcast in downtown Houston. But he also blends in classics like Sonny Boy Williamson’s epic “Help Me”, the set’s most extended exhibition of his guitar creativity, Detroit Jr.’s rip-roaring “Call My Job” and an absolutely murderous version of Lurrie Bell’s already deadly “44 Boogie”.
The primal power of McVey’s guitar work in full flight is an awesome and exciting sound but there is more than a little finesse that accompanies his fiery forcefulness. Like the tattoo of the scorpion that adorns his right forearm McVey can also make his guitar sting with passionate precision, impeccably nailing a single note that says everything that needs to be said.
McVey, burning down the house, Dan Electro’s Bar in this case, nails every note in sight in this sizzling set. His no-nonsense vocals and scorching guitar lines make it one of the best live blues recordings to come out of Texas in recent memory. And “Freddie King Goes Surfing”, the unique McVey original that closes the show with imitable style and swagger, kicks it up into certifiably classic status.