Johnny & The Mongrels
This is the full length debut recording by Johnny & The Mongrels. The band was founded by Fort Collins, Colorado residents Johnny Ryan and Jeffrey Bostic. The two singer-songwriters, vocalist Ryan, and bassist Bostic first met in April of 2015. The seasoned bassist had already toured with his sister, the award winning Jenn Bostic. By 2016, and in order to get gigs, they released the six song EP “You Ain’t Ready”. Full of energy their music was described as “Swamp Blues”. In 2017 the band began playing festivals and events in and around Fort Collins including The Colorado Brewers Festival. In 2018 they competed in the Colorado Blues Society IBC Blues Challenge where they made the finals. The Mongrels have opened for, or shared the stage with George Porter Jr., Tab Benoit, Ivan Neville, Samantha Fish, Scott Sharrard, Deanna Bogart, The Honey Island Swamp Band and others.
Ryan states “Jeff and I met producer JoeBaby Michaels at an International blues competition where he was a judge and he said he wanted to do a record with us. He’s worked with great singers like Ivan Neville and Shaun Murphy…we really love this New Orleans-influenced…kind of music and want to expose it to more people…we’re all about that music and culture.” Producer JoeBaby helped Ryan and Bostic complete the all-star band lineup of vocalist and front man Ryan; bassist Bostic who also sings lead and backing vocals; co-producer/guitarist Sharrard; keyboardist Bill McKay (who played with The Derek Trucks Band), and drummer Eddie Christmas (from The Jon Cleary Band). Background vocalists include Erica Brown, Erin Callihan and Penny Lane. Numerous guest artists lend their support. The album was recorded at the Dockside Studios in Maurice, Louisiana; and at Colorado’s Scanscope Sound.
Seven of the ten originals are written or co-written by Ryan. The Mongrels open with “Louisiana Girl” of which Ryan says “the people are always living in the now. Wanting nothing more than to make the best of every moment…this song is a tribute to the ladies of Louisiana and that aforementioned infectious spirit that they eternally display.” The emotive Ryan sings “Miss Louisiana, ya’ shake what yo’ mama gave you so well” and adds he wishes the song becomes the sister tune to Louisiana LeRoux’s “New Orleans Ladies”. Craig Dreyer adds some sexy sax to Ryan’s beautiful vocal.
Marty Rifkin plays pedal steel on “Drinking With Angels”; on the Bostic original “Hard Way”, and on the dark “Shallow Grave” featuring McKay’s piano and Charlie Wooton on bass. The New Orleans styled “Music Man” again features McKay on piano, Roddie Romero on accordion, and percussionist Bill Gross. The funky “Mama Said”, co-written by Ryan with Bostic and Sharrard, has Lee Allen Zeno sitting in on bass. On organist McKay’s “Just Keep Walking” he joins vocalists Ryan and Bostic. The re-arranged title track is reprised from the Mongrels earlier EP. The only cover is Tony Joe White’s celebratory “Saturday Night in Oak Grove Louisiana” performed as a tribute with some great guitar from Sharrard.
Johnny & The Mongrels is front man Ryan’s first project. He and Bostic’s brew of the Louisiana bayou is vocally wonderful, as the band glides effortlessly from swamp blues to a New Orleans second-line strut. This album, meticulously produced by JoeBaby and Sharrard, is an auspicious debut.