Jumpin' Juba
Guitar Tips


     -N E W S-

JUMPIN' JUBA's new release is called "Slap Happy."  Released June 2010, it's a 6-song "E.P."   That's an "Extended Play" CD single , which runs longer than a CD "single," yet is shorter than a full-length CD. It's a confusing term left over from the days of vinyl records. Basically, it runs about half the length of a regular CD album, and costs less than half of what a regular CD usually costs.   It mostly features originals that we have been featuring at our live shows, originals that were written after our last recording, Bumpity Bump was made.   You can get both CDs from http://www.cdbaby.com/jumpinjuba   directly from us at our live shows, or by mail order (see the merchandise page).


- R e v i e w s -


Jumpin’ Juba is hitting the Worcester area this summer and intends to seduce everyone with their infectious, fun-loving grooves. With Brian Flan on drums, Bruce Ward on the piano and organ and Steve Hurl on guitar and vocals, you’ve got a great combination of major talent and pure joy…. The music performance and arrangement[s] are tight, but you have to give mad props to Steve Hurl, the master of ceremonies. Hurl knows how to talk to the crowd, grab them, and bring them in.

     -- Tine Roycroft, Pulse Magazine, May 2011                      



Reawakening the power and joy of honky-tonk and boogie-woogie,  singer-songwriter-guitarist Steve Hurl, keyboardist Bruce Ward and [drummer] Brian Flan put a modern day spin on this uplifting music while paying homage to its origins.  Great musicianship, soulful vocals and stellar timekeeping enhance these well-penned songs that are sure to get you on your feet and dancing to the beat. Good stuff!!

            --Doug Sloan, Metronome Magazine  "Hearings" March  2011


(Slap Happy] is a great CD to pop in the player and open a cold one while sitting back and listening to some great music. The band is probably a great party band and I would love to frequent a local club to listen to this band. They just seem to have a lot of fun playing together.  3 1/2 stars [out of 4] and a lot of fun.

        --Charlie Harrelson- reviewer, EvO:R Entertainment,  April 2011


Slap Happy covers a variety of topics, from partying, to lost love, to a life of crime, blending creative and humorous lyrics with inspired musicianship….. there’s not a bad song here.  If you believe good music plus good lyrics equals fun, this EP’s for you. 

     --Doug Spike, Blue Monday Monthly Magazine,  Jan. 2011

                                   [ http://www.bluemondaymonthly.com ]


Worcester Magazine  December 2, 2004
It only takes pianist Bruce Ward's first few notes of the opening track of Jumpin' Juba's debut CD Bumpity Bump to know you're in for a good time.  "Funny Farm" pretty much guarantees that anytime you put the disc in your CD player or you catch the group featuring frontman and guitarist Steve Hurl live, you're going to have a great time-- thanks to their New Orleans party sound.   --Brian Goslow


Blues Bytes @ Bluenight.com
While the end of 2003 has seen a slew of high-profile releases tied-in with the official Year of the Blues, including lavish box sets and scores of new compilations from blues artists from the (sometimes recent, sometimes faraway) past, there's some comfort to be found in the fact that local talent is still found in abundance on contemporary releases. Consider if you will Exhibit A: the debut release of Boston-area Jumpin' Juba, titled Bumpity Bump (Bonel'ss Records). Jumpin' Juba consists of singer-songwriter and guitarist Steve Hurl and fleet-fingered pianist Bruce Ward, backed by a young rhythm section of Brian Flan on drums and Chris Denune on bass. The band is not one to rehash one more cover of Muddy Waters, BB King or John Lee Hooker; when they do go for a cover version, they opt to mine the catalog of Ma Rainey and of Casey Bill Weldon. But actually, the core of the material (11 of the 13 tracks) on this debut is self-penned; there are fun, made-for-dancing tunes, reflexive and/or acerbic commentaries on our social mores, a fast rockabilly-styled risqué number, a couple of instrumental tracks showcasing Ward's piano playing, and the requisite good-woman-gone-bad workouts. Hurl is a capable songwriter, his funniest moment coming on this verse of "Best Buy in Town": "I was checking out used cars at Honest John's/ The man said, 'This beauty was once owned by James Bond/ The gas tank has a few bullet holes in it/ And the ejector seat's gone, but otherwise it's mint!'" Hurl is also a good and resourceful guitarist, shining on slide (both acoustic and electric), but also on finger-picked guitar, with even a lap steel guitar turn. His approach is to punctuate a song with a solo, contrary to the modern tendency to write a song around a hot solo. As a singer, he has a burly voice, mixed squarely in the middle of the overall sound instead of front-and-center. His partner in Jumpin' Juba, Bruce Ward, is a pianist who is totally at ease at very fast tempos, while also excelling at a more stately pace, as heard on the Ma Rainey cover, "Explaining the Blues." Note that one of the two instrumentals, "Four-Footed," is conceived as a boogie-woogie duel, with Ward playing both parts; it is a little uneven but still downright impressive. Ward also takes a couple of turns on harmonica (and drew the cover art). As a whole, Bumpity Bump gives a good, rounded tour of good-times blues, with a couple of slower, sadder tracks thrown in for good measure. The musicians are versatile, and the presence of such a good pianist as Ward (and mixed quite high, too) gives Jumpin' Juba an added oomph, an element that makes the band readily stand apart from the crowd. A very strong independent release, to be found at www.stevehurl.com.
--- Benoît Brière (March 2004)


"Jumpin' Juba filled the house to the rafters with foot-stomping, get down rhythm and blues wrapped in a sound that was more than satisfying. These boys got down to business with Hurl's jack-rabbit quick guitar work and big-time vocals. He moves through blues riffs with a seasoned flair and puts the pedal to the metal when he slaps a slide on those frets."

"They've mastered the recipe for dishing up a fun and brand new conflabulation of sound that has seasonings of boogie-woogie, blues, and rock and roll. You know a band's got the right stuff when the crowd's having such a good time that they don't care how cold it is outside."
--Susan Dzeidzic, The Reminder Community Newspapers

(Northeastern CT) 2/11/05


MO Blues Association  (www.MOblues.org)
Jumpin Juba - Bumpity Bump - Bonel'ss #00305
Bumpity Bump is a fitting title for this CD. There is a definite piano sound all through the music of Jumping Juba, this does make it a bit different from the usual guitar blues that's everywhere. All but two of the songs on this disc were written by Steve Hurl and Bruce Ward, this is why their music seems so different, it's all fresh stuff. As fresh as it is, it seems to be easy to get into.
The first track Funny Farm is a good example of the easy to get into sound, it seems like a familiar song the first time I heard it. This opening track may not be the bluesiest tune on this CD but it sure is the most catchy, it has that stick in your head quality, you will probably be humming it for a few days after hearing it. Back Street Studio is something like a mix of the talking blues with a nice groove behind it. The story is about a back alley recording studio of the past, this track does have more of a guitar sound than most of this disc plus some harp work too. Bruce takes a trip down the piano road in a big way with Bruce's Boogie, this instrumental has just what the title suggests, a ton of piano with a big dose of boogie. Chase The Dream is a well written song of life, I am unsure what to call the style, it's a slow ballad of sorts. I say call it what you will, it tells the story well.  Another song in this same hard to describe category is Rear View Mirror, it's got some serious words about women and love.

The Sufferin' Blues is a nice tune with a fun feel even though it is about suffering, it's that classic "make you feel better" blues, definitely good dancing music. There is a good oldie in Explaining The Blues, an old Ma Rainey song, just classic old time blues with a new lease on life. The band starts rockin' on Complications , this is one song with a heavy duty groove. Steve does a good job on slide guitar with this one, he plays a good sound that reminds me of Sonny Landreth, mix in the drums and all the rest and you have a thumping groove. Best Buy In Town, well…. The lyrics are less than serious, or should I say humorous, but the music is serious with acoustic guitar for a change, it's a nice lighthearted ditty.

Bruce does something you don't hear too often, a duet with himself.  Four-Footed is exactly that, a instrumental piano duet with Bruce playing both pianos. If you enjoy piano music then this one track is a must, it cooks.  Fixated Woman has an old time Rock & Roll sound, kinda Jerry Lee Lewis like, it's about a woman with one thing on her mind (pass the Viagra J), it does rock. I thought I knew Lost In Logic, at least the first six notes. I recognized the first notes as Led Zeppelin but the rest is all new and sounds nothing like Zeppelin. (This fact may please many and disappoint some). This one has some really interesting lyrics about a woman that…well… is something, not very nice, but something. This is another song with a sense of humor. The last track is a classic blues number with a country twist. Back Door Blues is an old Casey Bill Weldon song, Steve does a super job with the guitar work, as always Bruce lays down a great piano base and it all works together to make a fine tune.
I may have said this before… If you are looking for something different than the usual "run of the mill" blues this may be your thang, especially if you like your blues with a lot of piano in it.
--Chris Puyear  (March 2004)

www.townonline.com (TAB newspapers)
Review by Ed Symkus   Wednesday, April 7, 2004
Guitarist Steve Hurl and pianist Bruce Ward certainly know their way through the blues. They also seem to be comfortable in any of the genre's many styles, as this album covers acoustic blues, electric blues, slide blues and boogie-woogie, among others. Hurl has a voice that he might have borrowed from Thin Lizzy's Phil Lynott, but with a gruffer edge. While he's never flashy on guitar, he easily demonstrates that he long ago reached solid journeyman status and lots of variety as a player. The songs, most by Hurl or Ward or both together, may be rooted in the sadness of the blues, but some are quite funny. "Best Buy in Town" is all about various shady sales folks, and there's no way not to smile during the two piano instrumentals, "Bruce's Boogie" and "Four-Footed."

Metronome Magazine  "Hearings" May 2004
"For the most part, Hurl and Ward along with bassist Chris Denune and drummer Brian Flan pour out a spankin' barroom swagger with Ward's barrelhouse piano setting the tone for these songs. Hurl's guitar solos are sparse yet effective as he plays a little bit of acoustic, electric slide and six string pentatonics in olde timey fashion. The duo makes for a formibable team of purveyors of this style of cabaret blues.  Best tracks: "Funny Farm," "Bruce's Boogie," "Best Buy in Town," "Fixated Woman," and "Back Door Blues."


Blueheart  Archive  www.blueheartarchive.com
Some days you wake up to little surprises in your musical life in the Blues and my mailbox gave me one of them a few days ago. A duo from Boston, Massachusetts that I never heard of before, Jumpin' Juba, sent me their debut CD titled "Bumpity Bump" on Bonel'ss Records. Accompanied by a few of their local musical friends Jumpin' Juba, Bruce Ward on harmonica and Blues/boogie piano and singer/guitarist Steve Hurl, combine their talents to put out a release of both classic tunes and original compositions that had my feet a movin'-a-plenty.
.....The CD finishes off with another historical number, a rockin' and rollin' version of Casey Bill Weldon's 1936 recording of "Back Door Blues" with hot acoustic piano, slide guitar and rhythm section. What a great way to end this exciting release! This CD is strictly for those who believe in a Blues party-time. Them surprises, you gotta love 'em!   --Eddy B


South of the Mainstream
This is a most interesting project from guitar man Steve Hurl. The authenticity of the New Orleans blues sound and the 50's rock sound is remarkable.
In a recent review on this site I wrote that it was not possible to return to a previous place in time and try to copy that sound. I said that it was necessary to find your own sound while remaining true to the sound that made you want to play in the first place. Well, this CD is the perfect example of what I was speaking about. In the recording they used vintage amps and so on to give a bit of a retro feel, but they didn't try to pretend that they weren't in the twenty-first century.
The songs are a lot of fun to listen to as they feature a lot of tongue-in-cheek lyrics. The guitar is tasty, bass and drums are mostly tight and the piano is amazing!


Daily Vault Reviews http://www.dailyvault.com   Reviewer:  Tammy Childs

....Bumpity Bump is an album of old-time "haus" blues done in a new and refreshing manner. With what's described as a New Orleans party sound, the indie-band Jumpin' Juba is a festive collaboration primarily between two characters, Steve Hurl (guitar and vocals) and Bruce Ward (piano). Each has a history in the blues scene, and together they have established a style of performing that is so fun and energetic that it's easy to get caught up in their enthusiasm.


Dirty Linen Magazine:

"Primarily country blues with a smorgasbord of influences, Hurl's songs are a lot of fun. Excellent playing on some quirky songs makes this [CD, Free Eats!] a quality album." 


Northeast Performer:

"Steve Hurl is a musical storyteller, much in the vein of a John Prine or Woody Gutherie. One listen to his latest offering, Free Eats! And you can tell that Hurl is writing from experience." 


Metronome magazine:

"Displaying superb vocal abilities, high caliber songwriting, laudable guitar work and superb accompaniment...Steve Hurl is a fine Boston-based performer not to be overlooked." [CD review, A Few Simple Words

"This CD (Free Eats!) resonates with an astounding clarity both musically and lyrically...His penchant for bringing back porch country, bluesy folklore and even island merriment establishes Steve as a creatively versatile musician and songwriter." 


Marilyn Rea Beyer, Music Director, WUMB 91.9FM Boston: "It's so refreshing to hear somebody who's...singing in a voice that is so completely direct and natural, and not put-on. It's a real joy to hear." 
(From a live radio interview, 1998) 


Ramblin' Bert Rand, host, "The Bluesline," WHUS 91.7fm, Storrs, CT: 
"...the new Steve Hurl CD [A Few Simple Words]...has been well received on my show, especially the bluesy 'stuff'--I think he's great! And it seems that my listeners agree also...he is getting lots of air time here at WHUS."

Boston Soundcheck Magazine:
"Hurl sports a warm, full voice reminiscent of John Hiatt and some scary slide guitar and fingerpicking skills, which beautifully enhance his winning lyrics and melodies. Maybe white folks really can play the blues." [2001]