Johnny Boy Kunk (Lost Grove Brewing – Boise) 8/9/19

In which I spend a stormy Friday evening sipping beers with friends while taking in some of the best blues music Boise has to offer.

Those of you who get out and catch music in downtown Boise (or have been reading this blog for a while) likely recognize John’s name, as this blues guitarist and songwriter has made quite a splash over the last couple of years.  Simply put, John is one of the brightest lights in an increasingly shiny Boise music scene, and he is excitedly preparing for a new chapter in his music career.

I’m pleased to report that in October John will self-release his first proper solo LP, entitled Rough Start.  That album features two traditional classics, “Catfish Blues” and “Bumblebee Blues”, as well as eight Kunk originals written over the last year.  I just received an advance copy of that music and will preview it on this site soon, and of course remind y’all when it is officially released.  There was mention of a local record release concert, followed by a short NoCal tour… stay tuned for details.

On this night, there was little mention of that new record (that I can recall), just John doing his thing for two hours for the Friday night brewery crowd.  Oh, and he was selling some shotglasses that he had made up.  Excellent merch choice, if you ask me.  I have plenty of T-shirts, but who can pass up another  alcohol delivery device?

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As I have said in previous posts about John, his guitar playing is beyond impressive and likely to suck you in from the moment you first hear it.  He plays straight-ahead and saucy blues that sound as if he just emerged out of the swamps of the Mississippi Delta, which he is proud of, thank you very much.  Yes, he has been known to play a song or two using a pocketknife as a slide piece, as he did on this night.  And it’s also true that the man can play a harmonica as fast as anyone I have ever seen, and his out of this world harp train impression is something to behold.  Having said all of that, in truth there is very little frills or shtick to his act.  He isn’t flashy, and his voice is pleasant but isn’t the star of the show – that would be the six-string licks he unleashes.

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He played a few songs from that upcoming album, including “Snake Bite”, “Black Haired Mama”, and “Roll Me Down Slow”, as well as the aforementioned “Catfish Blues”.  I haven’t heard the recordings yet, but if this performance is any indication, the record is going to be a blues-rock delight.  His cover of the Muddy Waters classic “Baby Please Don’t Go” (a personal favorite of mine) was spot-on, and “Hoppy Frog” was another highlight.  John introduced the song by saying “sometimes you’re chasing someone around and they got you hoppin’ like a frog, sometimes somebody is chasing you around and it does the same thing”.

Throughout most of his set, a violent storm raged on outside, dumping sheets of rain with howling wind, thunder and lightning.  The lights flickered a couple of times, but the power stayed with us.  Safe and dry inside the confines of Lost Grove, we had our own energy going on, as John delivered the goods as usual.

I was bummed to miss his opening set for the also fantastic local band The Weary Times a few weeks back (Yellowstone, baby), so it was good to see the man in action.  Your next opportunity to catch him is with his band Delta Mud when they open for The Yawpers August 26th at my home base, the Neurolux.

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