|There’s nothing quite like the fun you can have when you pack up some provisions and a few choice friends and head out for a road trip adventure to explore new frontiers, and hidden bi-ways and bask in the glorious landscape or just ride along treasured old roads. Guitarist J.P. Reali, a veteran of the D.C. music scene for almost thirty years, headed up to New England to meet up with old friend Duke Levine to record a session that became a musical road trip across genres of blues, country and good old rock ‘n’ roll for a five-song EP “A Highway Cruise.”
Best known as an MVP for hire by Peter Wolf, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Otis Rush, Duke Levine has an encyclopedic knowledge of blues, R&B, rock, pop, and jazz. Reali and Levine met on the road two decades ago and have been kicking around the idea of recording together for years. Levine assembled a group for the session that boasts a crack rhythm section of Jim Haggerty on bass, Mark Teixeira on drums, Dennis Brennan on harmonica, Tom West on piano/organ and fellow Boston six-string guru Kevin Barry on lap steel and Dobro.
The set begins with a great warm up, ‘My Baby Loves to Boogie,’ that lives up to its name as a jaunty swing with space for each player to stretch out on featured solos. ‘The Ballad Of A Burglar’ is the lament of a man forced to do the bidding of his gangster wife over an old-fashioned number that is straight out of the Chuck Berry rock ‘n’ roll textbook. Reali takes up the mantle from Woody Guthrie and presents a view of the national landscape on the title track ‘A Highway Cruise,’ boldly declaring “Give us all your tired and poor, hungry folks from distant shores. With so much land there’s room for more, and we don’t need another Berlin Wall.” His message of freedom and liberty is set to a swirling Southern rock epic with tasty leads from Levine and Barry, who do their best to channel Dicky Betts and Duane Allman.
Reali keeps the subject matter topical with clever editorial on the current administration in the bluegrass flavored ‘Blues For Casey.’ Living in the beltway by the nation’s capital for decades has given Reali a unique perspective as a songwriter, who must have friends in high places; inspiring him to create a character, who’s got the “Working at The White House blues.” The set ends with the easy-going country blues ‘Whiskey For Blood,’ a fine back-porch acoustic ramble that features great picking on mandolin and Dobro with a touch of blues harp on the side.
J.P. Reali describes his new album “A Highway Cruise” as the realization of a dream and the fine showcase of his original compositions furthers his amazing musical journey and his mission to keep the traditional styles of blues and roots music alive.
Rick J Bowen
A veteran of the D.C. music scene for almost thirty years, J.P. Reali has played in numerous venues throughout the city. From his days as the lead guitar player in the psychedelic blues band The Next Step in the 1980’s, to his days as half of the acoustic blues/roots duo The Reali Brothers in the 1990’s, through his current solo career, J.P.’s playing has electrified listeners. He has performed extensively throughout the East Coast and spent 16 weeks in residence in Japan thrilling listeners with his musical prowess.
In April 2007, J.P. released his long-awaited solo acoustic blues debut recording “Cold Steel Blues.” The album, which features nine originals and six cover songs by such blues greats as Robert Johnson and Reverend Gary Davis, showcases J.P.’s proficiency in both the Delta and Piedmont styles. While J.P.’s repertoire is steeped in the traditions of Piedmont and Delta blues and includes such classics songs as Statesboro Blues, and Walkin’ Blues, it also showcases his original blues compositions in a conscious effort to keep these traditional styles alive in the 21st century.
In July of 2010 J.P. released his second self-produced album, “Bottle of Blooze.” This album features nine original songs by J.P. and two by his brother Chris Reali. On Tap said of “Bottle of Blooze”– “Reali’s acoustic guitar picking is crystal clear and at times mesmerizing. In a city where real blues can be hard to find Reali is a solid purveyor of the form.” In 2012 Reali released an album of all original music “The Road To Mississippi.”
J.P. won the D.C. Blues Society’s Battle of the Bands in the solo category in 2010 and 2011 and went on to compete in The International Blues Challenge in Memphis Tennessee both years. He also received Washington Area Music Association nominations for Best Blues Instrumentalist, and Best Traditional Blues Recording for 2010 and 2011. He is a member of The D.C. Blues Society, The Piedmont Blues Preservation Society, The Washington Area Music Association, and The Baltimore Blues Society.