JOHN PAUL KEITH: THE RHYTHM OF THE CITY Wild Honey Records
For Fans of: Charlie Rich, Syl Johnson, B.B. King, Johnny Cash,
When it comes to American cities with rich musical history the city of Memphis is one of the wealthiest in the country. While most people think of Memphis as the home of Elivs, there is so much more to this musical mecca then Mr. Presley. Starting in the late 1800’s when jug and string bands performed for farmers outside the city’s cotton exchange and continuing all the way up until today Memphis has been home to a variety of genres of music. Musical heavy weights such as B.B. King, Otis Redding, Johnny Cash, and Al Green all recorded music that would change the world in Memphis and genre defining record labels like Stax, Sun, and Hi-Records all called the city home. It also should be mentioned that because of Memphis’ geographical location to the Mississippi Delta and Mississippi River the city became sort of a gateway to the south. Over the years, thousands have flocked to the city to seek new opportunities, conduct business, or inspire social change. While there are many books and records that tell the story of this great city the new album The Rhythm of The City from guitarist John Paul Keith might be a good place to start.
Well versed in a variety of musical styles, thanks to growing up in the musical Mecca that is Tennessee, John Paul Keith has done just about everything one can do in the music industry. He’s fronted his own bands, toured nationally and internationally, and worked with a wide range of legendary artists ranging from Soul legend Don Bryant to Rocker Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) . Additionally, he has also released his own critically acclaimed solo albums that run the roots music gamut and range from baroom country to hard soul. All that said, Keith’s new album The Rhythm of The City is definitely his finest hour to date. Featuring new original compositions by Keith, the album accomplishes the difficult feat of paying tribute to the rich musical history of Memphis while still sounding fresh and not sounding like a tired “tribute” album. Keith moves swiftly between playing Carl Perkins-style rockabilly on “Love, Love, Love, to Bobby Bland-esq “The Rhythm of the City” without missing a beat. Another strong track is “How Can You Walk Away”, which thanks to an excellent vocal take and some strategically placed horns is reminiscent of Little Milton’s best work.
Is Keith reinventing the wheel on The Rhythm Of The City? No, but that’s not the point. Keith has done what a lot of other “roots” artists are trying to do, he’s made this music fun and exciting again. While these styles might have gone in different directions over the years, Keith brings them all back home and makes everything sound cohesive. Whether Keith knows it or not he’s probably released one of the best albums of 2021. Hopefully The Rhythm of The City will invite a younger generation to not only check out his other work but also explore the vast musical history of Memphis. At the very least, we have some wonderful new music to dance to while we wait to be able to go outside again. Check out more on John Paul Keith here https://johnpaulkeith.