Jay Coda Walker and Peter Johnson : Happy Hour Review
By Tom Faddis
Jay Coda Walker and Peter Johnson are a power blues duet of an evocative singer/songwriter/guitarist and innovative harmonica player. Working as a duo, they perform many styles, from country, blues, rockabilly, to pop. Their repertoire includes many of Jay’s originals and arrangements of cover tunes with exciting twists. Jay Coda Walker has created a unique style of guitar playing that is captivating and transforming upon each listen. As a young boy, he learned his grandfather’s depression-era country, yodeling cowboy songs, train songs, and obscure gospel hymns. These were his only influences until his first experimentation with an electric guitar, which expanded his interest into the realms of blues, folk and country. Peter Johnson has been playing harmonica for over 40 years. Born in Gateshead, England, his first musical influences came from his dad’s 78rpm record collection. Lots of 40’s jazz bands but then quite a few boogie-woogie piano records and, oh yes, a couple of Sonny Terry records ….…. The rest is history as they say. His father (Stan) already played folk tunes on the chromatic harmonica, and his brother (Philip) played guitar. Pete dabbled with both but then chose to focus on the harmonica. The duet is now releasing Happy Hour.
A traditional blues opens the album called “How Long Blues” by Leroy Carr. Jay’s vocals and Peter’s harmonica intertwin for a stirring rendition. There is a little honky-tonk, rock, and blues in the sound – to create a style the duet terms “Rocky Tonk.” The harmonica solo is rhythmic, soulful and mournful in all the right places. Jay’s vocals have a pleasant ring to them, and he has an engaging manner in which he delivers the melody.
“When Memories Become Friends” is Jay’s original and another highlight of the set, featuring a steady blues feel and Peter’s blues chops. Both the guitar and harp come through in stylish fashion with the melody and lyrics leading the way. Jay’s songwriting is well-respected here, with the lyrics and mood following the melody to the tee for a very nice number. This is just one of many must-hear tunes on the list.
Happy Hour is steeped in the blues and succeeds in presenting an album well worth acquiring. With a collection of infectious sounds full of warmth, soul, and heartfelt blues, all leading to an enjoyable musical journey.
Release Date: April 3, 2020
Label: Jay Coda Walker and Pete Johnson