THE DEAL: Jump blues from a modern master.
THE GOOD: For the last 40 years, Big Joe Maher has been pounding out jump blues from behind his drum kit. Influenced by Amos Milburn, Louis Jordan and Big Joe Turner, Maher is adept at creating current tunes in the jump style popular in the '40s and '50s. Maher has been a fixture for years at the Double Door, first with Tom Principato's band and then with his own group, Big Joe and the Dynaflows. For this outing Maher has thrown in some covers, showing he can hold his own with the classic jump blues icons. Maher really shines on his originals. "What The Hell Were You Thinkin'" has an Amos Milburn feel; a big time, feel-good, boogie-woogie piano romp. "Evangeline" sounds like Louisiana swamp pop, along the lines of the '58 classic "Mathilda." "Supercharger" is an instrumental shuffle that pays homage to slide guitar legend Earl Hooker.
THE BAD: Need more Joe more often.
THE VERDICT: The title cut sums up Maher's career and his personality. Written when he fell down a flight of stairs and broke his back in 2001, Maher promises he'll bounce back: "You can slap me, punch me, and throw me on the floor/I'll jump back up and boogie down some more. You just can't keep a big man down." Thankfully for him and for us, he's kept that promise.