Nemeth and The Blue Dreamers – Live from the Fallout Shelter
Nola Blue Records
13 tracks – 74 minutes
John Nemeth has been in the front of many awards in his twenty-year career. With this year’s Blues Blast Magazine Awards nominations, John is perched to add to his awards case. He is nominated in six categories in this year’s list. The nominations include Male Blues Artist, Harmonica Player of the Year, Vocalist of the Year, Blues Band of the Year, Traditional Blues album for May Be the Last Time and Live Blues Album Live from the Fallout Shelter.
But John’s recent story runs deep starting with a debilitating case of infectious arthritis in 2019, which then spun into the pandemic shutdown, and finally a determination that he had a benign but aggressive tumor that would require amputation of his lower jaw . This led to the applicably named studio album May Be the Last Time, which referenced the possibility that he would be unable to sing following the surgery.
John then launched into a whirlwind final tour that was completed immediately prior to his scheduled surgery. The final concert on that tour at The Fallout Shelter in Norwood, Massachusetts on April 16, 2022, was recorded for posterity with no idea what the future might bring. As might be expected, the concert reflects a high energy performance driven by the emotions from both John and his band. The band members consist of Jad Tariq and John Hay on guitar and harmony vocals, Matthew Wilson on drums, acoustic guitar and harmony vocals, and Max Kaplan on bass and harmony vocals.
The album opens with a bit of Caribbean flair, which quickly moves into a funky rhythm and leads into John singing he needs to “Sweep the Shack” “to get back to loving you.” He pulls out the harmonica on “Work for Love” which also features some laid back guitar solos. The concert shifts into a shuffle, “Come and Take It” which has a touch of John lee Hooker as he finishes with “boom, boom, boom.”
“Testify My Love” is a quiet acoustic slow blues with tight harmonies and a feel of a kickback to an old school R&B song. He picks up speed on “Elbows On the Wheel”, a slightly countrified song about a truck driver. “Chain Breaker” is another shuffle allowing for John’s harp to burst out among some strong guitar runs.
He questions his woman “do you feel the same about ” “Deprivin’ a Love” which allows John’s run on his harp and Matthew Wilson to provide a strong drum beat to drive the song. Max Kaplan’s bass moves out in front to start “I Can See Your Love Light Shine” which has a ska-like rhythm running through it. The guitars let it rip on “My Baby’s Gone”.
“Feelin’ Freaky” starts very quietly with some solo guitar work which slowly builds up and then explodes with the drum kicking in and John’s vocals leading into some excellent harp and the guitars taking turns burning up the frets. John then tells everyone “Get Offa Dat Butt” in a steaming boogie demanding everyone to “Go ahead and dance, you know you want to.” and certainly delivers a rhythm that encourages you to start moving. The blues rock “Country Boy” features slide guitar while John states he “left his country home to live in the fine lights of the city”. The album closes with another boogie, Fountain of a Man” that lets the band let loose for a big finish.
John is a very pure soul vocalist with a constantly exciting harmonica and a strong band that delivers behind every note. A majority of his songs focus on love as can be easily seen with the song titles. And the good news is that a year after his surgery, John is now back out on the road performing again.
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