"Country Recording of the Year" - Washington Area Music Association
A Fool's Paradise...
Perhaps it was foolish to wait and worry as the studio tracked down some of the last reel-to-reel tape ever manufactured in order to finish the mixing of their debut release, Last Fool Here, but what J.P. McDermott and Western Bop have found in their fool's paradise is real rockabilly: the straight-up, genuine article, and their CD delivers it with authenticity and authority.
Any doubts are cast aside by the very first track -- My Damn Baby is a raucous, rocking original number -- this is going to be a ball! McDermott teams up with veteran Washington DC rockabilly guitarist Bob Newscaster (Tex Rubinowitz, Billy Hancock) on several originals including the high energy rocker, Go Cat, Go! and the Tex-Mex flavored Lucky Stars. One of McDermott's own, Not Enough of You, takes a straight-forward ballad, and builds it up to an exhilarating finish, thanks to J.P.'s soaring vocals. Another of McDermott's songs, Last Fool Here, closes the record. A last call waltz, it summons up the lonely feeling that hits "when they turn off the jukebox, and they put up all the chairs".
Despite the passion and enthusiasm J.P. McDermott brings to these memorable songs, he could be considered the "last fool here" in that title song because nobody records this way anymore; most music today is direct to the hard drive with digital mixing and editing. But Last Fool Here was made the old-fashioned way -- on magnetic tape using aging analog equipment -- more dependent on vacuum tubes than computer chips. Many of the tracks were recorded with the entire band playing live, all in the one room -- it's a pain to mix, but there is no better way to capture the exhilarating raw feeling of live music. But this isn't mimicking the old process for some sort of history project -- what comes across is not an academic exercise, but a celebration of heartfelt honky tonk tunes and the thrill of rip-roaring rockabilly.
In addition to originals, the collection has plenty of well-chosen covers. A particularly fine rendition of Johnny Cash's Cry Cry Cry features an authoritative guitar solo from J.P. along with his solid vocals. It's not surprising that McDermott was named Country Vocalist of the Year by the Washington Area Music Association. After listening to him on the Harlan Howard classic, Heartaches for a Dime, it's clear that this band is fronted by an impassioned and powerful singer who does more than just energize the rockers. J.P. possesses the tone and control to deliver what the Washington Post has called "honky tonk the way it should be".
It might seem foolish for J.P. to sweat it out to capture the vibrancy and purity of a good strong rockabilly song like That Ain't Nothin' But Right , but he beams with pride when local critics call him "the keeper of the rockabilly flame." The Washington area has always been a welcome home for roots music, and J.P. likes to tell the story of the Buddy Holly song, Blue Days, Black Nights. Buddy used to fib that the song was a big hit in Washington DC (it was so far from Lubbock, TX, how would anyone be the wiser?) but the record never actually got much play. Here, J.P. McDermott gives the song new life, turning out the classic rockabilly sound with sparkling simplicity. Buddy Holly got the western and bop rocking and now it is J.P McDermott's turn to keep it rolling.
Check out the artist's website:
1. My Damn Baby
2. Do I Love You
3. Cry Cry Cry
4. Coulda Shoulda Woulda
5. Not Enough of You
6. Blue Days, Black Nights
7. Lucky Stars
8. Sixteen Chicks
9. Go Cat Go!
10. Heartaches for a Dime
11. That Ain't Nothin' But Right
12. Last Fool Here