Since he left the New Paltz area for Knoxville, Tennessee several years ago, the blues guitarist/songwriter Jonny Klenck has made frequent trips back to the Hudson Valley, each time reuniting the trio he left behind: the Jonny Monster Band, featuring drummer Roger LaRochelle and bassist Pete Newman, both also of Sekanjabin, another seasonal outfit. This year, however, Klenck brings up his current Southern trio bearing the same name, which includes Adrian Lajas on drums and Graham Waldrip on bass.
While he will not have a new record in hand, Jonny was able to forward a few nicely finished tracks in advance of his return. From the fist notes of “My Third Degree,” it is clear that Klenck has upped the ante in the studio. His idiom, as ever, is smoldering, wailing and occasionally psychedelic blues/rock in a Texas vein, with unfussy lyrics regarding hard times and, secondarily, good times. But the huge and tight bottom end of these mixes and the meaty thunk of Klenck’s guitar make “My Third Degree” and “Boogie at the Bus” sound almost as much like Van Halen in boogie mode (sans the tapping and harmonic squeals) as like Stevie Ray. The two tracks are an auspicious warning shot for a record set to drop at Halloween.
Live, Klenck has always been a man possessed; and if the new trio plays with even half the empathy and old-school eccentricity of the old trio, then Keegan Ales is the place to be on Saturday, August 27. Shows at this venerable brewery/venue typically begin in the 9 p.m. range, and there is usually no cover. Keegan Ales is located at 20 Saint James Street in Kingston. For more info on the man himself, visit www.jonnymonster.com.