jclifton

John Clifton, of Frenso, Calif., has solidified himself as one of Central California’s most in-demand blues frontmen since he started in the late 1980s.

Daily Journal staff report

You just can’t get that stuff around here. What “stuff?” West Coast blues, which also can be known as jump blues and swing blues.

The local, loose-knit club, the Friends of the Blues, is bringing some of that “stuff” 7 p.m. Tuesday to the Manteno Sportsmen’s Club, when they host California’s John Clifton Blues Band. Not since 2009’s shows with The Insomniacs from the Pacific Northwest has the Kankakee area been treated to those kinds of Left-coast sounds.

Effortlessly infusing musical styles and influences from Texas to California to Washington state, harmonica master John Clifton sings lead vocals, wails on both diatonic and chromatic harps and leads a hot three-piece backing band, melding Chicago Blues, classic R&B, soul and some hard driving, vintage rock ‘n’ roll.

The John Clifton Blues Band is a show band. Instead of blue jeans and a T-shirt, John will be dressed to the nines, often in a gold suit with two-tone shoes.

A review by the The Midwest Record said, “You’ve got to work hard to make it look this easy, and ‘hard’ is where he starts. He [Clifton] knows how to light up a show with intensity, and doesn’t know how to quit — so he doesn’t. With the electricity turned up to 11, you can count on John Clifton to electrify you.”

In the late 1980s, with his brother, Bill, John founded the MoFo Party Band in Fresno, Calif. Their 1999 debut recording “Call the Doctor!” made numerous “best” lists, and they followed up with three more albums.

As a result John Clifton has earned a solid reputation, played with the greats and toured the world. Clifton’s solo debut was 2015’s “Let Yourself Go.” In 2018, Clifton followed-up with the critically acclaimed “Nightlife.” This year brings “In The Middle Of Nowhere” on Rip Cat Records.

Clifton’s current six-week, cross-country tour is in support of “In The Middle Of Nowhere,” his third album on Rip Cat. The tour began in California on June 9, winding its way through Texas and into the Midwest, going as far east as Cleveland.

Scott Abeyta, owner of Rip Cat Records in Southern California, has joined this tour on stellar guitar with Wil Anderson on bass and Gene-Michael Abella on drums.

Blues harp enthusiasts, blues fans and Friends will discover they can get some of that high-energy West Coast stuff when the John Clifton Blues Band brings it to them all the way from California to the Manteno Sportsmen’s Club at 851 N. Main St., Manteno.

Cover charge is $10, and food and drinks will be available for purchase. As always, Friends of the Blues shows are open to the public.

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