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CD Review: MIKE FELTON / JOHNNY LUNCHBUCKET - Diamonds and Televisions

Diamonds and Televisions
It All Ends Here - Bohunk's Daughter - Seven Days A Week - Emma's House - Gas Station Coffee - Old Dogs And Fools - Pa Kettle's Bastard Son - Get Lost - Statue Of Liberty - Mike's  Last Will And Testament

I've known Mike Felton for quite a long time as a very expressive, serious folk singer.  I did not know his previous "life" was as a Bo Diddley style honky-tonk rocker.  This album was released some time ago, and is just now getting the serious attention it deserves under a new name, "Outsider Americana" perhaps tongue in cheek.  It's definitely good rock, sort of the Motown sound.  As Johnny Lunchbucket, Mike Felton put his original folk-like songs in a totally different ballpark.  This one has full rock backing, including a horn section that is super good.  It's the songs though, that still carry the message.  And there's lots of messages in these songs.  Sometimes just for entertainment, most times for serious listening.  "Emma's House" for instance is definitely written in the Dylan style and vogue, but the Motown version is really interesting, especially the piano work.  Another song I find really interesting is the one about Pa Kettle.  Not a lot of folks today would even know who Mike is talking about when he mentions Pa Kettle.  But I do, Ma & Pa Kettle were some of the funniest and life-style black and white movies ever made.  But, a bastard son?  I can't possibly imagine the mild and meek Pa Kettle being guilty of that, BUT one never knows does one?  There was a ton of children in the Kettle family, but a bastard son?  The heavy bass on "Pa's" song sort of drowned out the lead vocals, so I didn't understand everything Mike is saying about Pa Kettle. Whatever it is (was) has to be important.  Lead guitar is very good on this one.  Mike Felton AKA Johnny Lunchbucket had a whole 'lifetime' as a kind of "Outsider Americana" musical writer/performer/traveler.  Today he is more meekly a solo 'folk' singer act.  Both however, are distinctly original, and both are distinctly and totally American.  A singer/songwriter on his road discovering who he is, and why he is, and where he is.....sometimes.  I like Mike's own words, far better than I could say about him..... "I like showing up with just a guitar, sometimes a microphone and amplifier, and doing my songs.  So it's kind of a troubadour thing. Hopefully I'm getting better and better, and trying to get in contact with who I am and explain myself to the world."
RECORD REVIEW BY: Bob Everhart, Pres., National Traditional Country Music Assn. www.music-savers.com for Country Music News International

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