John Primer

John Primer
All Original

Blues House Productions

By Art Tipaldi
November 2009

When John Primer arrived in Chicago in 1963 he wasted no time finding the blues. He played the legendary haunts like Theresa’s Lounge for years before joining Muddy Waters’ last band (1980-83) and then Magic Slim’s Teardrops (1983-mid 90s). With all that apprenticeship and nine CDs since 1993, Primer fully understands this music from the inside.

On All Original, Primer delivers twelve originals grounded in those windy city traditions. At times he evokes Muddy, Elmore James or Magic Slim; at other times he cuts a sharp edge that is born from the varied influences a modern musician must stir into his technique. Primer’s respect for James surfaces particularly often. With a “Dust My Broom” attitude, Primer nails the high-energy slide that James made famous.

On standouts like “Everyday Brings By A Change” and “Keep On Lovin’ The Blues” (Primer’s personal “blues come walking like a man” story), Primer arranges his supporting instruments into a vigorous weave. Once Primer sings, the harmonica, piano and guitar find space to augment each other in a comfortable musical conversation.

His slowest blues, “At Home Alone,” emphasizes Primer’s lean playing around Harmonica Hinds’ chromatic draws. The final tune, “Love In My Heart For You,” finds Primer and his acoustic slide back-porching in the studio. Hinds’ harmonica and Primer’s flailing slide harken back to the days of Muddy on a porch at Stovall’s Plantation.

There are no surprises here, just Primer delivering heaping servings of blues made right. With a booming voice and a feel for the balance of texture and nuance, Primer has finely grafted his Mississippi roots onto the Chicago music of his mentors.

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