NEW YORK: Benny Maygarden CD Review - by J.Blake

Posted on 7/14/2009 by J. Blake

Well not much can be found on the web about Benny Maygarden. Just about all I’ve been able to dig up is that he has been a fixture of the “New Orleans blues and roots music scene for almost a quarter of a century”, his influences are vast and eclectic and throughout his career he’s been able to share club bills with some of blues’ major heavy hitters, including Willie Dixon, Bobby Bland, John Mayall and Gatemouth Brown to name a few.

According to his website, his latest CD, COME ON, IF YOU'RE COMING, is his first album as “a full electric band leader” in over a decade. Whatever he’s been doing for that decade and wherever he’s been hiding (presumably down in the “Big Easy”), it is a cryin’ shame because judging from this latest CD release, Maygarden is an artist I would’ve been following all this time, had I only heard of him prior to this recent recorded effort!

Everything about COME ON, IF YOU'RE COMING is undeniably “retro”. The CD consists of an interesting mix of tastefully electrified versions of pre-WWII folk-blues standards, late-1950’s R&B and rock ‘n’ roll-style covers and harmonica driven originals that straddle the line between Butterfield-style mid-60’s blues and straight-up down and dirty “swamp” groove. Hell even the cover-art looks like something out of Jacques Tati’s Play Time!

One of the most commendable things about this CD and Maygarden, is that the singer/harmonicist manages to avoid over-saturating the album with harp solo after solo. He actually shows great restraint, keeping guitarists Johnny J. & Thomas Walker reined in, while keeping his own solos short and sweet. His singing voice is unique, adding an interesting and welcome flavor to the majority of the CD’s 12 tracks, but it unfortunately seems weak and out of place when he is forced to croon on a few of the album's slower numbers.

That minor flaw aside, COME ON, IF YOU'RE COMING is a well-produced CD featuring a lot of talent, a touch of kitsch and a healthy dose of rhythm and blues…emphasis on the “blues”. Standout tracks include Maygarden originals Gutted and Too Many Tarzans, as well as covers Reduction Twist and Let Me Rock You.

This CD is a lot of fun and highly recommended.

Also, please check out some NYC Blues with J. Blake & The Earthquake at: or as well as on Facebook.

Copyright © 2009 - J. Blake. All Rights Reserved

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