What mistakes should a beginner avoid when learning to play the guitar? Memorizing chord shapes on the fingerboard without knowing what the notes are. A chord is made up of three notes (root, third, fifth). The different ways you combine those notes are called ‘inversions’ or ‘voicings’. The shape that beginners often memorize is merely one inversion and usually a redundant one with two or more roots and two fifths as in the case of barre chords.” - Minuca Elena

Merely Music

The Reverend Double J talks shop on the subject of amplifiers.” - Minuca Elena

Best Amps

A blues rocking guitar slinger that doesn't want to follow any path but his own turns in a date like the kind your pop always raves about but you never heard of and can't even find on streaming services. A road warrior that knows how to please a crowd with ears looking for something meaty, this hard hitting set hits the target for thrills, chills, fun and excitement. Check it out. ”

Midwest Record

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Irreverent Dissident, from J.J. Vicars and it's solid rocker. Opening with Los Vatos in A,  a sympathetic guitar interlude, this release is off to a good start. Long Way From Home is a ragged garage rocker with Vicars on vocal and guitar, Anthony Lumpp on bass and Danny Lumpp on drums. With the swagger of early Stones, Vicars charges right into Dixon's Wang Dang Doodle. Excellent! Slow blues, Outskirts of Town, has rich guitar chords with Robert Johnson on piano and drums and Denny Wright on bass. Vicars' guitar soloing is full of tension and feeling. Stinky Twinky is a super piano boogie instrumental featuring Big Jay McNeely on sax, Doug Oscard on drums and tasty guitar riffs from Vicars. Instrumental, Downhome stays in the boogie groove with Vicars leading the way on guitar. Excellent! Deguello is an interesting quasi classical composition with cool electric guitar over arpeggiated chords. Very nice. Three-toed Midget is a bluegrass style track featuring Richie Kindler on banjo, Kyle Crison on bassand mandolin and Jen Conley on ukelele. Clever. Wrapping the release is an alternate version of Stinky Twinky putting you in mind of the great Gatemouth Brown. Excellent closer” - Bman

Bman's Blues Report

Irreverent Dissident (Annie Gator Records) is guitarist J.J. Vicars’ first album since returning from a decade overseas. He won the 2017 Northeast Ohio Blues Challenge and competed in the 2018 International Blues Challege. Vicars’ brand of blues combines straight-ahead contemporary blues with boogie, rock n’ roll, and urban blues with an occasional tongue-in-cheek approach. The album consists of 13 tracks, two of which are bonus tracks, one being an alternate version. Vicars wrote or co-wrote eight of the tracks and also did most of the heavy lifting behind the scenes. The opener, “Long Way From Home,” is a hard charging autobiographical rock and roller, and the shuffle “Can’t Get Along With You” leans a bit toward rockabilly. The cover of “Wang Dang Doodle” is taken at a faster and harder rocking pace than usual. The humorous and slightly salacious “Things I Need” is a hoot, and “That Ain’t Me” is a reflective ballad with a country bent. “What Do I Tell My Heart” picks up the pace in the same country vein. A powerful guitarist versed in a variety of styles, Vicars includes five instrumentals, ranging from the spacy opening interlude, “Los Vatos in A,” the rambunctious “Stinky Twinky,” with a guest appearance from 90-year old sax legend Big Jay McNeely (this track also appears in a bonus alternate version at album’s end, sans sax), the Texas twangy “Downhome,” and “Deguello,” a multiple guitar track that returns to the spacey vibe of the opener. The bonus tracks include the aforementioned “Stinky Twinky” and “Three-Toed Midget,” a hilarious bluegrass romp with Vicars’ guitar and irreverent vocal backed by banjo, mandolin, ukulele, and assorted barnyard sounds. Irreverent Dissident is a fun and well-rounded set of blues, roots, Americana, and rock n’ roll that’s well worth seeking out. ” - Graham Clarke

Blues Bytes

For the last ten years or so, vocalist and guitar-monster J. J. Vicars has been playing abroad, literally spreading the gospel of his blues all over the planet.  In honor of this Earth Day and Record Store Day, we proudly present our review for his latest release, “Irreverent Dissident.” This set is unique in several ways, especially in the way it is presented to the listener.  For its full effect, it behooves us to state that it is best enjoyed in the order originally intended, one thru eleven.  As you enjoy this set, you’ll notice J. J.’s many influences, from Muddy to Chuck to Cash to Hank Sr. and on thru to guys like Steve Earle, and it’s all in here. It is presented in three separate “stages,” if you will, each reflecting a different set of influences.  An ethereal, spaced-out intro, “Los Vatos In A,” opens the proceedings, then the gloes come off.  A modern-day, Berrylicious romp is next, the autobiographical documentary of his European tour, “Long Way From Home.”  Up next, he really throws a mess with a frenetically-paced read of “Wang Dang Doodle,” before giving way to the rockabilly tinge of “Can’t Get Along With You.” Stage Two opens with a jazzy, slow-blues version of “Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town,” before the instrumentals kick in.  “Stinky Twinky,” (and its alternate version which closes the set) features sax from 90-year old legend Big Jay McNeely, and “Downhome” is full of Double-Troubled bluster.  Stage Three opens with another spacey intro, “Deguello,” and then the blues-meets-Western-swing takes over.  One of our favorites opens that segment, as J. J.takes a humorous and, yes, irreverent look at “Things I Need,” with dobro from Hugh Ashton.  (DJ’s beware…this one ain’t FCC clean!).  He shouts-out to alt-country with Todd Moore’s “It Ain’t Me” and again with Wayne Willem’s “What Do I Tell My Heart.” One of the bonus tracks served as our other favorite.  A shout-out to guys like Ray Stevens and another “Ir-Reverend,” Billy C. Wirtz,  is the hilarious, banjo-riffic, “Three-Toed Midget named Bridget!”   Fans, this thing rocks and rolls, twangs and strolls, and J. J. Vicars makes it all work.  That makes him one sho’ nuff “Irreverent Dissident!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.” - Sheryl and Don Crow

Don & Sheryl's Blues Blog (Nashville Blues Society)

Just what is an ‘irreverent dissident’ ? In JJ Vicars’s case it describes a man with a mind of his own, who writes his own rules, and who doesn’t take kindly to being told what to think or what music he should play.  That’s just the way he is. It was the same thing when he released his first album, Sci-Fi Diner, back in 2005. That too was an album that didn’t seem to follow any of the usual rules.  It had rhythmic blues rock, old school guitar rock, instrumental boogie woogie stomps, and slower blues-tinged singer-songwriter numbers. Who was it aimed at? JJ was astute enough to know that this would not be a problem.  He’s a Texan, and in his part of the world cranky individuality is seen as a positive asset (think Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Janis Joplin). There was also method to the madness : “Most of the music I like, from Louis Jordan and Chuck Berry on up to Bob Wills and Humble Pie, all has that driving rhythm. ‘The Big Beat’ is what makes it Rock ‘n’ Roll and that Big Beat came from Blues, R&B and to an extent Jazz. It’s music for the body. I’ve dabbled in various styles over the course of nine albums and that’s what ties them all together.” And so, several albums and collaborations later, we come to his latest offering, Irreverent Dissident, an album that he has described as his “most diverse album to date.” My favourite track is Long Way From Home (also the title of an earlier JJ Vicars album, though the song appears to be new), a great road song : JJ Vicars – Long Way From Home From blues rock to real old-time blues, for all its easy-going rhythm Can’t Get Along With You is razor-sharp in its use of one-liners – ‘Seems like everything I do, I just do it wrong’, ‘You don’t listen baby to a single word I say’. JJ Vicars – Can’t Get Along With You Then we come into an instrumental section of the album : JJ Vicars – Downhome The final four tracks are stylistically very diverse, and a long ways away from the driving blues that we began with. That Ain’t Me is a slow-paced folk country number : JJ Vicars – That Ain’t Me JJ is an artist I’d love to see live : he’s got a vast knowledge of blues music, at the same time you know that he’s going to mix it up and throw in things that you’re not expecting. He has an ability to get a feel for what a particular audience will respond to, and he’ll always try to get his audience going.” - Linda Wall

Music To Die For

After a decade of playing overseas, J.J. Vicars has returned to the states to take a prominent role in the Ohio music scene. He has an impressive catalog of original music that he has released, and his new album, Irreverent Dissident, is a fun collection of tunes with his unique voice and attitude. For this disc, J.J. took the roles of producer, songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist, so what you hear through your speakers is very close to his original vision. By the way, it is apparent that Vicars loves the rock and roll/hotrod lifestyle, and looking at his album artwork, how can anybody not like a guy who appreciates dogs, mid-1930s Plymouths, and 1952 Chevys? Irreverent Dissident is dedicated to the memory of Vicars’ friend, Larry Slezak, and it was recorded at Jupiter Studios in Alliance, Ohio where it was engineered and mastered by Richie Kindler. The line-up of musicians varies from track to track, which makes a lot of sense when the listener finds that the album is divided into three distinct thematic sections. This is all good news, and J.J. delivers throughout this set with plenty of blues, blues-rock, and some serious boogie tunes. If you need further validation of this, consider that Vicars and his band topped the competitors to take home a win at the 2017 Northeast Ohio Blues Challenge, earning them a trip to Memphis for the International Blues Challenge J.J. breaks his set up into three different themes, with the first part of the disc kicking off with “Los Vatos in A,” a soaring guitar instrumental that might remind the listener of Joe Satriani’s more conventional work. The rest of this section features Anthony Lumpp on bass and Danny Lumpp on drums, and includes two originals: “Long Way From Home,” a blues rocker, and “Can’t Get Along With You,” a very tasty shuffle. One of the few covers on this album is also found here, and Willie Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle Dang” is presented with a new edge that really spices up this standard. The middle portion of the album leads off with Bill Wheldon’s 1930s tune, “Outskirts of Town,” which provides a jazzier version of the countrified original. “Stinky Twinky” has kind of a nasty name, but this ends up being a high-energy and quite tasty rocker with some spectacular sax work from Big Jay McNeely, who recorded his part just before his 90th birthday. This section closes out with “Downhome” which has Texas sound with some lovely B3 playing from Robert Johnson, as well as bass from Denny Wright and drums from Doug Oscard. Part three is introduced by another guitar instrumental, “Deguello,” which evokes imagery of the traditional Mexican army bugle call that was famously used at the Battle of the Alamo to indicate that there would be no quarter provided to survivors of the conflict. At least that is what I remember from those old John Wayne movies… Things get a little more traditional after this thanks to a western blues influence that is provided by Hugh Ashton on dobro, Danny Katz on piano, and Hisa Nakase on the double bass. These songs include the original swing tune “Things I Need,” as well as Dr. Todd’s ballad, “That Ain’t Me” and Wayne Miller’s “What Do I Tell My Heart?” Vicars also include a pair of bonus tracks that serve to get the play time over 45 minutes and provide a little more content for the listener. “Three-toed Midget” is more of a whimsical folk/bluegrass tune, though there is the possibility that some could find the content degrading or objectionable. There is also an alternate take on “Stinky Twinky” that gives J.J. the chance to really tear loose, and his guitar technique and tone are ultra impressive. J.J. Vicars’ Irreverent Dissident is a thoughtful collection of songs that is both playful and well written. J.J. works a solid blues base into many paths, and this is an album that allows his fans to hear something new with every listen. You can hear samples of this work at his website and find the list of gigs that he has coming up in and around Ohio. If you are going to be around the Buckeye State this summer, it would certainly be cool to see his live show too!” - Rex Bartholomew

Blues Blast Magazine

I am starting this review a little self indulgently as, I think, JJ Vicars and I share a very similar view of what constitutes the blues. A few years ago, I had a letter published in Classic Rock Magazine in response to an article in the previous issue on the blues genre. By the way Classic rock, you gave it ‘Star Letter’ status that earned a t-shirt…never did receive it! The letter said: “Loved the feature on Blues & Blues Rock; I must take most of the contributors to task over one thing, however. Blues is not all misery, depression & sadness. Having been ‘turned’ onto the blues in the 1970s by researching the originals played by Rory Gallagher & Jimi Hendrix etc. I find the blues legacy to be full of humour, tenderness & more alternative names for the male & female genitalia than you would believe possible! Try ‘Travelin’ Riverside Blues’ by the wonderful Robert Johnson. It is here you will find the original, immortal line “Squeeze My Lemons, ’til the juice runs down my leg”. Try the unbelievable Lil Johnson from 1936 with “Press My Button” (No prizes for guessing this innuendo). Try Jimmy Gordon’s “My Baby is a Pearl Diver” – she can hold her breath for a long time! Even the instrumentals of the time can raise a smile, like Weaver & Beasley’s “Bottleneck Blues”. Most blues legends sprinkled their songs of hardship with songs about loving, about drinking & about having a good time”. (By the way, Erja Lyttenen does a brilliant cover of Press My Button if you want a modern take on it) That belief is still as strong today and if you approach JJ’s latest album, Irreverent Dissident’ with that mindset, it will add to the pleasure and help forgive any misogynistic references that (ahem) raise their head. This is JJs sixth album and his first since returning to the USA after a decade-long sojourn travelling the world. It still has his trademark guitar sound and smoky blues vocals across the 11 (plus two ‘CD Bonus Tracks) songs. The overall sound is a melding of rock and blues with an injection of swing and jazz to keep it fresh. Apparently, the songs are split into three themes, although this isn’t obvious and, frankly, irrelevant when listening as the pace and subject matter varies and doesn’t really need any links. It opens with a prelude called Los Vatos in A: this is loosely translated as “The Dudes” in A and is a short but atmospheric guitar piece which leads into the first track proper. Long Way From Home starts all Chuck Berry, then sounds like ‘punk blues’ until the guitar solo cuts in with some brilliant phrasing as JJ tells the story of his travels. Next up is a reworking of Willie Dixon’s blues standard, Wang Dang Doodle in which JJ gets the guitar sound spot on as he updates this classic. His vocal is a bit low in the mix, but it does mean you can hear all of the backing, which reveals some clever multiple chord playing. The first solo combines clear picking with hard chord strums and is a delight; the second one is even better.  Can’t Get Along With You is a neat take on a Texas shuffle which SRV could have made his own. JJ does the format proud with his laidback approach to guitar that makes it warm yet still has attack. Bill Wheldon’s 30s composition, Outskirts Of Town, gets that same warm feel but this version, courtesy of a jazz piano, makes it a very different cover. It does work remarkably well with an expansive piano solo heralding an exquisitely picked guitar solo. Stinky Twinky is next: this may be a euphemism I’m not familiar with but, regardless of a dodgy title, it is a sub-three-minute instrumental romp that could have been released in the 60s. The guitar is fast and furious as the backing rolls along on rapid bass, drums and horns before a dissonant sax solo by Big Jay McNeely. Downhome is an instrumental that I adore. It has yet more great, vintage sounding guitar that shows JJs capabilities to the full and is addictive. Beware, the sound in the background isn’t a pair of lungs trying desperately for air, it is actually a rather clever piece of Hammond work. Another instrumental follows: Deguello starts off with a Spanish guitar intro that stays subtly in the background as the electric cuts in with a more modern sound. It’s pleasant enough but a bit of a disappointment as, after less than two minutes it fades away. The next track, Things I Need, carries an “Explicit Language” warning…I refer you back to my introduction as it isn’t gratuitous swearing, but more of a couple of what some people regard as distasteful adjectives. It is a tongue-in-cheek approach (not a euphemism) and if you consider that it sounds like a song The Goons would occasionally put into their shows, then the humour becomes even more apparent. (If you aren’t old enough to remember the Goon Show, then think Monty Python or The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band). So, think the Goons as played by Frank Zappa and you’re there! It is a fun excursion but not an essential part of this album. That Ain’t Me changes to a country tinge with a little swing thrown in. The background has some sweet slide over the strummed acoustic and moody piano and gives a pleasing take on the country-rock original. What Do I Tell My Heart wraps up the album (unless you buy in a format that gives the bonuses) This is another country rock song but JJ adds an extra dimension from the original with the way he blends the varying guitar sounds to flesh out and intensify the lyrical swing of the tune. The bonuses consist of an alternate version of Stinky Twinky: the differences? Well, it’s 10 seconds longer, it has slightly different guitar/piano interplay and no sax solo and is better for it, to my ear at least. The other bonus goes by the slightly unPC title of Three-toed Midget. This is a bluegrass, banjo tune that, lyrically might leave some cold, but again taken in the right way, it is not intended to cause offence and should be enjoyed for its fascinating instrumentation despite the seemingly random animal noises. (Also remember that hideous Ray Stevens song from 1971 which also tells the tale of Bridget the Midget and then, as they say on exam papers, compare and contrast!) This is an album that is both well assembled and good humoured. It has many layers waiting to be discovered and, although there are a couple of missteps, it is still well worth seeking out and listening to with the aforementioned open mind.” - Tom Dixon

Blues Doodles

Ik baal als een stekker! Zijn er zo maar vijf albums van een zeer getalenteerde gitarist onopgemerkt aan mij voorbij gegaan. Maar het zesde album van zanger-gitarist J.J. Vicars uit Ohio is mij niet ontsnapt! Daar is het ook veel te leuk voor! J.J. laat hier horen dat hij een prima gitarist is, die zich in vele stijlen thuis voelt. Zo opent hij het album met het fraaie atmosferische Los Vatos In A waarin hij zijn gitaar lekker laat galmen en gieren. Daarna volgt Long Way From Home, een spetterende Chuck Berry-achtige rocker waarin blijkt dat J.J. de Berry loopjes prima onder de knie heeft. Dit is een prima “heads down” bar boogie. De blues klassieker Wang Dang Doodle wordt door J.J. omgetoverd tot een vol gas rockende mix van blues en rockabilly. In Outskirts Of Town gaat J.J. de jazz kant op. In deze slowblues klinkt J.J. als een kruising tussen Elvin Bishop en Danny Adler. Gast saxofonist Big Jay McNeely is te gast in de onstuimig swingende boogie woogie Stinky Twinky met razendsnel priemend gitaarwerk en uiteraard rauw scheurende sax. De instrumental Downhome is een lui swingende jazzblues shuffle met een dwingende boogiewoogie ondergrond. Na de korte Mexicaans-achtige gitaarinterlude Deguello volgt het bizarre Things I Need. Een soort mix van ragtime en vaudeville met een tekst als “Got no pussy. Got no weed. I Ain’t got the things I need” . Dit klinkt als een bluesy variant op de Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. Compleet met lekker valse bar paiano. What Do I Tell My Heart sluit het album af met swingende hillbilly en hard snijdend gitaarwerk. Ik heb mij prima vermaakt met dit album van J.J. Vicars en ga snel op zoek naar de vorige vijf albums. Haal deze man zo snel mogelijk naar Nederland. Feest gegarandeerd!” - Peter Marinus

Blues Magazine

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