Page 49 of Living Blues Magazine’s January 2023 issue holds a great review of Janky’s newest CD, CBG Throwdown. Huge props to Lee Zimmerman who dug deep into the CD to really understand and relay all that went into Janky’s music.
It’s easy to forget that other people perceive things in your music that ‘you’ as a songwriter do almost subconsciously. I love that Lee picked up on the vibe of one of my favorites on the CD, Kiss Yo’self. I had fun writing that song. I wanted to write something that is positive and focuses on making people feel good. My Pops always tells me “Don’t let nobody steal your sunshine”. That statement was the catalyst for that song.
Lee Zimmerman writes: “With that in mind, it’s little wonder then that the album’s real centerpiece, Kiss Yo’self, becomes something akin to a demonstrative call to arms, given its anthemic and affirmative messaging. It rallies and rails, expressing the need to regale in clarity and confidence, even when bullies attempt to undermine it all.”
Reverb Unit Records
C.B.G. Throwdown finds Janky and his colleagues— drummer Cole Koenning and Cody Cotton on harp—going back to the basics with a sound that further explores classic country blues. Using his instrument of choice, various cigar box guitars, Janky purveys a rugged yet riveting archival style and propels it further with a stomp, strut, and swagger. It’s an insistent approach that propels the music forward while giving it the grit and gravitas it deserves.
As a result, the aptly named C.B.G. Throwdown not only lives up to its name but its branding of “Good-Time, Juke Joint Blues” as well. While the stripped-down approach may not seem to leave much room for real variation, there is a marked change in tone that distinguishes the gleeful, good-time revelry of the album’s opening assault, 71118, from the darker designs of You Must Be the Devil’s Favorite and, in turn, the chant and steady stride that drives the didactic and determined What Cha Done Done?. Each musician adds his own presence, whether it’s Janky’s solid strumming and authoritative vocals, Koenning’s relentless rhythms or Cotton’s wailing harp as it soars through it all. This is a tight-knit, highly tuned trio, one that turns a bare-bones motif into a series of riveting refrains.
With that in mind, it’s little wonder then that the album’s real centerpiece, Kiss Yo’self, becomes something akin to a demonstrative call to arms, given its anthemic and affirmative messaging. It rallies and rails, expressing the need to regale in clarity and confidence, even when bullies attempt to undermine it all. So too, the insistent Sweet Disposition and solid boogie beat of Shake It on Down further underscore the trio’s musical mantra with a relentless drive and determination that’s often irresistible.
Four albums on, Janky and friends have become prime advocates for stripping the blues down to its roots while keeping it vital and voracious all at the same time. Concise yet compelling, C.B.G. Throwdown is a testament to their own tenacity.
— Lee Zimmerman