R.J. Mischo & the Teddy Morgan Blues Band
Ready to Go!
Atomic Theory 1126
About five years ago, guitarist Teddy Morgan joined the James Harman Band, causing a few hundred barstool critics to put down their Shiner Bocks long enough to check out the latest Dangerous Gentleman. Though barely 19 years old, Morgan was pure, blazing retro. Harman, it seemed, had pulled yet another rabbit out of his hat.

Actually, that "hat" was the vibrant blues scene in Minneapolis, where Morgan was well-known for his work with the Lamont Cranston blues band. Morgan and other Minneapolis regulars -- singer/harpman R.J. Mischo from Blues Deluxe, drummer Rob Stupka from the Butanes, bassist Bill Black from the Solid Senders, and singer/guitarist Percy Strother -- used to get together on Sunday nights for a standing gig at the Five Corners Saloon. The format was all 1950s, Chicago-style, swing blues.

Eventually, the band -- they called themselves R.J. Mischo & the Teddy Morgan Blues Band -- skipped one of their Sunday shows to record 17 live-in-the-studio tracks in a single session and released Ready to Go! on the tiny Blue Moon label, and though it was a nice showcase for band members' talents, after Morgan's exit, things fell apart.

Atomic Theory has picked-up Ready to Go!, and it's a fun blend of Mischo's Little Walter-style harmonica, Strother's all-Chicago vocals (he does killer versions of Muddy Waters' "Forty Days" and Howling Wolf's "Evil") and Morgan's T-Bone Walker-meets-Magic Sam guitar. One of Morgan's three instrumentals, "Lightnin' Blues," pays tribute to Lightnin' Hopkins' electrified acoustic blues.

Be aware that Ready to Go! captures Morgan in his full-tilt retro phase, which means it's a departure from his subsequent releases, Ridin' in Style and Louisiana Rain, his two Antone's discs. And don't miss the efforts of Stupka, clearly one of today's top drummers. The guy is all wrist.

-- Dave Ranney

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Boulder, CO, USA.