The Porkroll Project

The Porkroll Project

After a brief hiatus and regrouping of the Philadelphia hard-rocking blues band, The Porkroll Project return with their third album, Papa Didn’t Raise Me Right, on Roadhouse Redemption Records. The group of season pros known for its high energy blend of original blues tunes and fresh covers, is led by guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Neil “Porkroll” Taylor, whose BBQ and tasty blues playing is well known throughout the Delaware Valley. Long-time cohort, harp player and vocalist, Buddy Cleveland rejoins Taylor adding new players to make up an ensemble that includes drummer John “JT” Thomas, keyboardist Walter Runge with Anthony Pieruccini on bass and the horn section of trumpeter Chris Neal, Andrew Whisler on trombone and saxophonist David Renz. Old friend Paul Matecki steps back in to sing on two tracks as a bonus.

The eleven new tracks recorded at Noisy Little Critter Studio outside of Philly, capture the band in a natural setting allowing them to dig deep into the sordid tales of notorious characters, family drama, hard times, hard drinking, and the redemption to be found in the blues.

Taylor opens the set with the title track, a guitar driven roots rock confessional of man struggling to reconcile his wicked ways. A salutary horn calls to us and Matecki steps up to the mic and leads the crew through a fabulous tale of adventures south of border “Down In Mexico,” originally recorded by the Coasters in 1957. Chicago-styled R&B “Going To The Station,” features fine piano work from Runge and another hot lead from Taylor on a familiar feeling groove. Mournful Hammond B3 underpins the riff on the slow blues “Crescent Moon,” as Taylor trades barbs with Renz’s saxophone before unleashing his Les Paul. The twisting fable, “Better You Than Me,” is a clever spin on a timeless yarn about old dogs and new tricks set to a funky country blues.  The funk rolls on as Taylor tries to settle a family feud during “Mama Put The Gun Down,” then the mood shifts during the uplifting gospel-fueled “Dancing With The Angels.”

The late-night tale of murder and treachery “Nothin’ Yet,” is colored by hot blues harp from Cleveland and greasy B3 to accompany the Film Noir narrative. “The Next Thing Smokin’” rambles along to a lively New Orleans beat from JT Thomas before the theatrical showstopper “Sentenced To The Blues,” brings the set to a climax. The jaunty “A Taste Of Malt Liquor,” with its shout along chorus serves as a party time encore.

With Papa Didn’t Raise Me Right, Neil Taylor and The Porkroll Project deliver another fine landmark in their 20 years of making music together.

Rick J Bowen


Neil grew up around music; his aunts formed the Smith Island Ladies Quartet and his uncles The Smith Island Men’s Quartet. They recorded several LPs and performed up and down the Delmarva Peninsula. When he was 6 years old, Neil had a chance to see a live gospel show; the Speer Family. The backup band was topflight, and one of the guitarists played a wine-red Gibson Wes Montgomery archtop electric. Neil remembers shouting to himself, “I gotta get me one of those!” To this day, Neil has a weakness for red guitars. He got his first guitar a few years later and was soon wearing out LPs and record player needles, learning whatever he could get his hands on.

It wasn’t too long before Neil became aware of first-generation blues artists; those who influenced his heroes became his heroes. Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy are but a few. The highlight of his teenage years was seeing Muddy Waters up close. Muddy had the entire Philly Spectrum, 20,000+, eating out of his hand, and Neil was there, standing in the front row.

The Porkroll Project is the brainchild of Neil, a fixture in the Greater Philadelphia blues scene. At the end of a prolific period of songwriting, he had the notion to assemble some of the best musicians he had the privilege to play with, and record with them. The result was the first of three music projects. The Porkroll Project was born; a hard rocking band who play a high energy blend of originals and fresh covers.

The band has a collective experience that runs deep and wide, having played together in various projects for over 20 years. They are well-seasoned veterans of Philly blues clubs, regional blues festivals, and the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN. They also occasionally provide backup to the great Georgie Bonds, blues singer, and Pennsylvania Blues Hall of Fame member. They have done numerous split-bill shows together, and on one or two occasions, have been joined by Vanessa Collier for a night of roof-raising fun! Neil has been Georgie’s band leader and has acted as producer for Georgie’s most recent recordings; Stepping Into Time and Hit It Hard.

Sidenote: To the un-initiated, porkroll is a ham-based breakfast meat product, produced by the Taylor Provisions Co. (no relation…) in New Jersey. If you’ve been to the Jersey Shore, you know. It was always in Neil’s refrigerator growing up, and given the coincidence of his surname, he was dubbed with the nickname “Porkroll” in high school.  As a stage name it stuck.






AUGUST 3, 2021