Georgie Bonds
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What the critics are saying about "Stepping Into Time"

Living Blues Magazine (February 2015)
Georgie Bonds has survived a hardscrabble childhood in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania, not Mississippi), a stint in federal prison and a harrowing series of health crises. Although he's still relatively young, his voice is deeply textured and rough-edged, and his material – much of it written or co-written by him –reflects a similar life-hardened toughness.

In The Blacksmith, a north Mississippi flavored modal blues, Bonds (who actually worked as a blacksmith for quite a few years) carries on the venerable tradition of boasting of physical prowess on the job as a metaphor for sexual prowess in bed. He also comes through with a riveting a cappella version of St. James Infirmary, making the time-tested New Orleans street-player's lament immediate and heart-rending. Elsewhere, he purveys more modernist-sounding fare, such as the funk-peppered Dyin' is the Easy Way (one of several songs here that Bonds did not write, but which sound as if they emanated directly from his heart and life) and the up-tempo, ironically jubilant Going Shopping, again fueled with funk, which finds Bonds inhabiting the role of a player with a fat bankroll who's nonetheless nursing a broken heart.

In I Need Somebody, in contrast, the singer stares down loneliness with steadfast fearlessness: it's elevated above run-of-the-mill, "lonesome lover" blues fare by acknowledging emotional, as well as erotic, hunger. Daily News finds Bonds summoning his most tender and vulnerable-sounding vocals to convey songwriter/guitarist Neil Taylor's tale of a world torn asunder by violence and despair. Hurricane Blues, penned by bassist Kenny Githens, continues another tradition- summoning images of climatological turmoil to evoke both existential and emotional dread.

Through it all, the band provides skin-tight, understated, but powerful accompaniment, drawing elements from rock and pop as well as standard blues to create vivid musical landscapes that complement, rather than overwhelm or smother, his leather-tough delivery and the eloquence of the songs' lyrics. From seemingly out of nowhere, Georgie Bonds has emerged as a formidable, versatile bluesman with the potential to make a significant impact.

- David Whiteis

Dave Rubin
Some blues artists channel tough times for street cred and some pay real dues like singer and poetic songwriter Georgie Bonds. His new album gives testimony to his immense emotional power in a magnificent musical accomplishment presenting the blues in its truest form.

10 originals and two classic covers are backed by Neil Taylor and Harry Jacobson (guitar) Andy Haley and Russ Joel (drums), Kenny Githens and James White (bass), Walter Runge (organ), Joe Stout (piano) and Buddy Cleveland (harmonica). Bonds' virtuoso, accapella "St. James Infirmary," has chilling poignancy beyond the mournful lyrics. The riff-driven, autobiographical country blues "The Blacksmith" exposes his lust with "The tongs are in my left hand, my fire's good and hot. Pump a little on the bellows, my hammer will find the spot." On the urgent, minor key shuffle "What More (Do a Poor Man Need)," Bonds reflects "I lived my life for fifty years, the way I thought I should. I've made my share of bad mistakes, that much I will concede. Three rooms and a good woman, what more do a poor man need?" as Jacobson solos sympathetically. The N'Awlins second line funk "Lord, Oh Lord" has Bonds pleading "Lord oh Lord, please stop raining down this hell on me…I hope someday that I can open up my eyes and see" joined by Taylor's crying slide guitar.

Bonds rages "A mother kills her children, a husband kills his wife. Brother killing brother, cut down in the prime of life. People keep on asking, what's giving me the blues. Read all about it, just pick up the daily news" on the slow, minor key "Daily News." A jazzy R&B groove drives "Dyin' is the Easy Way" containing the haunting "…I headed outa town to a shotgun shack. Went to meet my Maker but He sent me back, He said 'Get on with livin' 'cause you ain't gonna die today…cause dyin' is the easy way.'" The gently hypnotic "Calling Your Name" features Bonds' heartbroken "Girl I'm calling, calling out your name. I'm still falling, I'm falling all the same..." "Going Shopping" offers hard blues-funk to underscore "I've got plenty of money, I can't get anything I want. I've looked all over town, can't find something to fix her heart."

On the slinky slow blues "Out of the Fryin' Pan" Bonds decries "I turn on the TV, same thing every night. People trying to sell me stuff, so's I can get right. Things to make me beautiful, so I can climb that social ladder higher. Jumping from the frying pan, right into the fire." Taylor looses a torrent of notes on the funky "I Need Somebody" before Bonds roars "Well, I'm going back down South, gonna look for a woman there. Well, they're selling something sweet there, sure know how to love and care." The ominous "Hurricane Blues" contains Bonds delivering the warning "Storm clouds a'coming, times are getting dark. Did you see the trees shaking, you can hear the dogs bark. Some kind of moving, I can see him through the trees, better not get caught, 'cause he's coming after me." John Lee Hooker's classic "Dimples" officially ends the show with a muscular, ramped up version jolted by Taylor searing his frets, dynamic stop-time and Bonds fierce growl. Following, however, is a gritty acoustic take of "The Blacksmith" as a bonus song highlighting Bonds, Taylor and Cleveland on blues harp.

A stretch in stir and 14 years shoeing horses has given Georgie Bonds' blues realism and believability that cannot be invented. It is a life few would want, but a thrill experienced vicariously on his album.

- Dave Rubin, (2005 Keeping the Blues Award winner in Journalism)

Blues Blast Magazine (December 2014)
Georgie Bonds' back-story reads like something put together by a Hollywood scriptwriter. Born and raised in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, he has been incarcerated; spent 15 years working as a blacksmith; nearly died from a medication error that caused significant internal damage; and he has discovered a late-flowering gift for singing the blues. As part of the house band at Warmdaddy's, a blues club in Philadelphia, Bonds has shared the stage and played with the likes of Hubert Sumlin, Koko Taylor, Larry Garner, Bill Branch and The Kinsey Report. And, in 2013, he won an acting/singing role in the Broadway success, "It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues", which was nominated for four Tony Awards.

Stepping Into Time is Bonds' second album, following 2000's independently-released Sometimes I Wonder, and features 10 original songs written by Bonds or one of his band-mates, together with two classic but superbly done covers.

The album opens with one of the covers, a short, a capella version of the traditional "St James Infirmary", where Bonds' voice beautifully captures the poignant edge behind the lyrics. It is a bold way to open an album, but it works superbly, especially when followed by the modern country blues of "The Blacksmith". Bonds' powerful, soulful voice is given free rein to express the protagonist's lust as he sings "The tongs are in my left hand, my fire's good and hot. Pump a little on the bellows, my hammer will find the spot. They call me the Blacksmith, and that's what I am. I got the fire deep inside me and my hammer in my hand."

Bonds is backed by a top quality band, featuring Neil Taylor and Harry Jacobson on guitars, Andy Haley and Russ Joel on drums, Kenny Githens and James White on bass, Walter Runge on organ, Joe Stout on piano and Buddy Cleveland harmonica. Dave Renz also adds tenor saxophone to the upbeat shuffle of "What More?" Each of the musicians adds spice to the music without ever getting in the way of the song. Runge's organ, in particular, adds some lovely touches, such as in "Dyin' Is The Easy Way". Neil Taylor, in addition to contributing to the writing of several songs, adds haunting, hanging single notes to the verses of Githens' "Hurricane Blues" and some stellar slide guitar to the funky blues of "Lord, Oh Lord", which also features some lovely honky tonk piano by Runge.

The slow, minor key "Daily News" captures the concerns and worries of so many at the current state of society. There is a palpable anger to Bonds' voice as he wails: "A mother kills her children, a husband kills his wife. Brother killing brother, cut down in the prime of life. People keep on asking, what's giving me the blues? Read all about it, just pick up the daily news."

The second cover on the album is John Lee Hooker's "Dimples". Bonds' version does not have the sly undercurrent of the original, but instead acts as an irresistibly muscular celebration of love and the sexual act. Then, just as the listener expects the album to end, a child's voice plaintively says "OK, Dorothy. That's it. Time to go home. Oh, wait. There's more." The secret song starts with beautiful finger-picked acoustic guitar. A slide is added, then Bonds' voice comes in just before the harmonica. It's an acoustic reworking of "The Blacksmith" and is a wonderful way to end a thoroughly enjoyable album.

Stepping Into Time is a very enjoyable slab of modern blues. Great songs, fine playing, crystalline yet warm production (kudos to Neil Taylor) and superb singing. What's not to like?

- Rhys Williams

Making A Scene (
Georgie Bonds grew up in the Germantown section of Philadephia. Bonds liked Rhythm and Blues but he loved horses even more and he dreamed of being a cowboy. He purchased his first horse in 1975 when he was 21 years old. Unfortunately a year later he got into trouble with drugs and wound up doing three years in a minimum security federal prison. In prison Bonds obtained his GED and started writing songs. Upon his release Bonds got a job at a horse stable and went to school to become a blacksmith. When he returned to Philadelphia he became the village smithy.

Bonds also began to perform at open mic blues jams. One night he sang "Stormy Monday" and bluesman Sonny Rhodes heard him and took him under his wing. Then in 1994, due to a medication error, Bonds got gravely ill. Bonds lost a kidney and had to undergo hip replacement surgery. His blacksmith career was over.

Bonds began to host the open mic blues jam at Warmdaddy's. He formed Georgie "Gatormouth" Bonds and The Blueskeepers and over the years he shared the stage with Hubert Sumlin, Koko Taylor, Bernard Allison, Melvin Taylor, Slam Allen, Larry Garner and many others. In 2001 Bonds released his first cd "Sometimes I Wonder" to critical acclaim. Health issues again sidelined Bonds.

Bonds released "Stepping Into Time" in 2013. The band on this recording includes Bonds, vocals; Neil Taylor, rhythm and slide guitar; Kenny Githens or James White, bass; Andy Haley or Russ Joel, drums; Walter Runge, keyboards; and Buddy Cleveland harmonica. The album is co-produced by Bonds and Cleveland.

The album opens with the traditional "St. James Infirmary" sung without accompaniment by Bonds. Bonds emotive vocal displays his beautiful baritone.

Then the band kicks it up. The "Blacksmith" is the first of five songs written or co-written by Bonds. Written with Taylor, Bonds tells us his story, "there's a fire deep inside me and my hammer is in my hand". The rhythm section of Githens and Haley provide the foundation for Taylor's guitar, Runge's organ and Cleveland's harp. Also co-written with Taylor is "I Need Somebody". Bonds has also written the New Orleans sounding "Lord, Oh Lord" with its second line beat; "Calling Your Name", and "Going Shopping". The latter of which is receiving a fair amount of airplay.

Taylor also contributes "What More?" featuring a great sax solo from Dave Renz; the topical "Daily News" and "Out of the Fryin' Pan". "Dyin' Is the Easy Way" is from Joey Stout and Neil Taylor.

My favorites include Bonds' version of John Lee Hooker's "Dimples", which closes out this excellent album, and the hidden track which is a fabulous acoustic version of "The Blacksmith" featuring Taylor's guitar and Cleveland's harmonica.

Bonds' is a joy to listen to.

- Richard Ludmerer

Reflections In Blue
Bonds, like those bluesmen who came before him faced his inner demons and came out fighting. Through it all, he had a dream and that dream sustained him through the tough times. In his case, dreams became reality. On this album, all but two of the tunes were written by him or members of the band and, frankly they are pretty good. The two covers, the traditional "St. James Infirmary" and John Lee Hooker's "Dimples" are blues standards but Bonds pours heart & soul into them, essentially making them his own. His rendition of "St. James Infirmary" is probably my favorite tune on the disc. Bonds has a strong voice, well-suited for the genre and a great sense of delivery. The result is a sound that is hard not to like. With the backing of a dynamic band, both instrumentally and vocally strong this one sails right along. "Stepping Into Time" is a prime example of blues in the role of the song of the victor. What we have here is strong R&B with a touch of finesse and a beat that has the dance floor filled from the minute the music starts. Bonds has worked as a cowboy and a blacksmith and finally taken that experience for material for a career in music. The result is a mix of storyteller and soul singer. In my area Bonds is a regional act so I would suggest catching the show live. Georgie Bonds is a party waiting to happen. His CD is readily available so, if nothing else, support local and regional talent. Memphis, Chicago and New Orleans are great places to see good bands but they are a bit far to walk. Give "Stepping Into Time" a listen. If you like it you have a great addition to your collection...if not, you made a contribution to keep blues available in your area. Either way you come out a winner.

- Bill Wilson

Smoky Mountain Blues Society
I'm sitting here for about the 10th time listening to some good blues. Make that GREAT blues. Let me tell you about it! Georgie Bonds "Stepping Into Time," is knocking me out. Hailing from the Germantown section of Philadelphia, George has no doubt seen and heard it all. I've been there. As a horse lover he learned to be a blacksmith, shoeing horses for 15 years. Talk about hard work. He was also a music lover since a child! After hearing an old Robert Johnson record the caught the " blues bug." After playing "Stormy Monday," at an open mike in the 90's, he was mentored by blues legend Sonny Rhodes, and now here we are! This is his second CD, after some tough times, and he has more than arrived. Georgie was chosen to appear in the Philadelphia production of the Broadway hit, "It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues," as an actor and singer! The show was nominated for four Tony Awards and Best Musical in the New York Times. Dang……now to the CD. With ten originals and two ace covers Georgie has surrounded himself with excellent musicians to compliment his most, most, soulful blues vocals. His band includes Neil Taylor and Harry Jacobson on guitar, Andy Haley and Russ Joel on drums, Kenny Githens and James White on bass, Walter Runge on organ and Joe Stout on piano. Were not done yet. Buddy Cleveland plays wonderful harmonica as well. The CD opens up with the classic "St. James Infirmary." Only difference is Georgie sings it accapella. That's right, no instruments added. This only sets the vibe for the rest of the CD! With twelve cuts on the CD his shows he can sing any style. The guitar work is brilliant. Not too much, just the right amount. No one gets in each other's way. It is a joy to listen to from top to bottom. We're talking guitar, and slide, piano, organ, great harmonica, no lead drums, just soulful beats to soothe you. I have really enjoyed it. With several slow minor blues, and a version of John Lee Hooker's "Dimples" he just has way too much fun. Please give a listen to Georgie Bonds new CD "Stepping Into Time." Go to www.georgiebondscom and see what he's got. He's got it all. I like it! Oh yea Georgie….and it's time to go……with a lovely outro acoustic slide number at the end……love it! (It's not even mentioned on the CD cover.) There's a Philadelphia trick for you.

- Barry Faust


Georgie Bonds