CD reveiw "Moving On" Tenry Johns
Maybe starting a review off by comparing the subject of the review to other musicians is somehow not proper it will not stop me here. Two of my favorite Blues singers are Phillip Walker and Grady Champion and Tenry Johns compares very favorable with those two magnificent blues torchbearers. On his latest he starts with the tittle song "Move On" which is not blues but sounds kinda like a George McCrae, Gwen McCrae type of TK records uptempo "Rock Your Baby" type joint that sets this record off perfect.
Then comes "You Alright" with a perfect blues guitar intro (Yes there is that P word again") this song gives volume to the comparison with Walker and Champion also the late Johnny Guitar Watson. All of these men have and had singing styles and voices which set them apart from the others and the average.
Tenry Johns writes and finds strong vehicles for his strenghs which are his sense of irony and humor. Being in the Chicago land area there is also no shortage of some of the best players in the blues world and you can hear the quality in every lick, pick, and snare strike.
You feel all of that on "What's Wrong", "I ain't gonna cheat on you" and the chant of You gotta trust me baby is rhythmic charisma that will have you doing what good music make one do when it's hitting all cylinders.Trust me baby!
"Get out of that mess" is my temporary theme song because seems like something is always going on that ain't as bad as we make it, and we need a pep talk. This is that pep talk (thanks Tenry).
In the past TJ has give us some great music that you should be aware of, and my favorite is a CD called "So What" which after you rush out and get "Move On" you will be compelled to go out and grab along with "Need your Love" another very good offering by the former bass player for the The Notations.
Tenry will tell you himself that he is no great vocalist, but he is a great composer of the songs he sings. His feel for what he does is one of comfortable confidence which is clear in his music. So if you think you are stuck with music that does not meet your musical standards cause that is what they play on the radio, then get yourself some real music from a real artist played with real instruments.
I guess I'm telling you to "Move On".
- Enorman Harris
Freelance music critic and former radio personality in Ohio.
“It's impossible to describe what great fun we had at this place called BELLUOMINIS . In addition to bartender ANDREW KAMIN's hospitality, we found there great Blues and R&B arranged by Mr. Tenry Johns.
This guy could definitely compete at Buddy Guy's Legends, House of Blues or any of the other great blues clubs we know of in the world.
There is no way to describe him any better- If you follow the blues and you'll want to follow Mr. Johns. Good luck TJ!”
– Gintaras & Neringa
The Fort Wayne Indiana Frost Illustrated (April 24 - 30 2002)
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The Fort Wayne Indiana Frost Illustrated (January 28 - February 3 2004)
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Blues Access: Number 40, Winter 1999
Not sure if this idea of being the Gorilla of the BLues is well-considered, but T.J. "The King Kong Rocker" swings in an urban environment just like that famous celluloid beast. In Here Tonight (Tenry Music) is set up like a live set, opening with a blasting up-tempo party number and then only dipping occasionally into the slow stuff.
T.J.'s direct and dead-on vocals are cushioned by the full range of sounds from Bob Crane's keening lap steel guitar to a full-bodied horn section and harmonica work from Cyrus Hayes. On those few occasions when Mr. Tenry Johns does clear the dance floor for lovers with a slow tune, the Chicago vocalist reveals just a hint of Aaron Neville-esque vulnerability.
A polished and solid set of blues and R&B originals, no monkeying around. (Tenry Music, 12447 Honore, Calumet Park, IL 60827, (708) 489-0334) ***
– Bill Kisliuk
Blues Revue: Issue Number 54, January/February 2000
The debut from Illinois-based Tenry Johns ("the King Kong Rocker") hits the mark more often then it misses. Despite a few rough spots, the disc is decorated with standout performances, shuffling tunes and solid musicianship. Johns handles the arrangements, as well as the lead and background vocals, while a considerable cadre of musicians lend a hand.
The title track is a feisty, bouncy tune that pushes all the right wiggle buttons and spotlights some spectacular harmonica work by Cyrus Hayes. Hayes puts in good performances throughout the 10 tracks; his handiwork is especially obvious on "Just Like You," a hard-driving blues riff. Also worth a mention in that song is a subtle and effective keyboard solo from Benny Brown, who's as skillful in the limelight as he is providing background grooves.
Many of the tracks have plenty of well-placed horn action, taking the energy up a notch or two. Nowhere is this more evident than on "Trust Me," where trumpet, sax and trombone propel the tune with fiery intensity. Bob Crane's lead guitar offers solid tone.
Johns, who obviously has an ear for performers, has put together a competent crew. He uses his smooth voice to full benefit on In Here Tonight: His range and inflections work appropriately for R&B tunes ("You and Me"), but he's also capable of funk-inspired wailing ("True Love"). Johns' laidback approach on A.C. Reed's "Can't Go On This Way" is compelling. While the disc offers a variety of genres, most tracks are uptempo, fun and full of energy. It's clear the King Kong Rocker has great potential.
– Bill Fountain
Rhythm & News: Issue 980
Excellent set of party hardy contemporary blues. Good musicianship and outstanding original material, including the country/westernish "Rockin' and Rollin' in the USA" make this CD a real winner! Don't be afraid of the name - this ain't nothin' but the blues, baby!
– Jim Feeney
Living Blues: Issue 150, March/April 2000
T.J.--Tenry Johns--is billed as The King Kong Rocker, and the Chicagoan shows why as he roars through a predominantly uptempo set that mixes originals with covers of Let The Good Times Roll, Denise LaSalle's Dirty Old Man, and A.C. Reed's Can't Go On This Way. T.J.'s exuberant delivery and the three-piece horn section recall other Midwestern R&B combos like those of Big Twist, John Dickerson, and Walter Smith, but Cyrus Hayes' harmonica lends more of a down home touch at times.
– Jim DeKoster
Music Street Journal: Issue Number 40, February 2003
Far too often the blues can come across as generic and lacking in variety. There are few artists who manage to pull off a form of the style that is based in a traditional vein and is still varied enough to entertain. There are even less who do that and make it fun. Tenry Johns is just such a man. With this CD he has combined classic blues stylings with rock and roll and even jazzy modes to create a sound that is quite varied and fun. There are some lesser, more generic moments, but overall Johns seems to know how to change it up enough to keep the music fresh. If you are a fan of high-energy blues, especially with a traditional core, then by all means you should give this one a listen.