Carlos del Junco,
Blues Mongrel
(Northern Blues, 2005)

This is a mongrel of a CD, with some excellent tracks mixed with some that are, well, beastly.

The first track, "Blues With a Feeling," is a mess, with distorted guitars and unsteady, lumbering rhythms under Carlos del Junco's standard harp riffs. Yet it is followed by "No Particular Place," a pleasant tune mixing jazz and blues with del Junco's harp snaking around the melody.

Del Junco uses Golden Melody harps instead of Marine Bands, which give his playing a smoother, less metallic sound than many blues artists. He uses them to good effect on non-blues numbers like the upbeat "Let's Mambo."

On "Plain Old (Down Home) Blues," del Junco sings plain, old standard lines like, "If you gamble with fate, somebody's bound to lose." But then "Skaroon" mixes in a bit of ska to make an unusual blues instrumental.

To summarize, Blues Mongrel has terrific, imaginative instrumental tracks alternating with the ones del Junco sings on. He has an adequate voice, but he uses it on so-so blues songs that afficionados will recognize as the things you have heard many times before. The exception is a decent cover of Sonny Boy Williamson II's "Nine Below Zero."

Del Junco shows signs of being a purebred talent, as long as he avoids songs that are dogs.

- Rambles
written by Dave Howell
published 16 July 2005

[ visit the artist's website ]

Buy it from