Here's what you need to know about Georgie!
"All I've wanted to be in my life is a cowboy and a singer." - Georgie Bonds
The average person would be content with fulfilling just one dream, but not Georgie Bonds. He has managed two. Having once been a prominent figure in Philadelphia's storied Black Cowboys organization, hard work and a twist of fate has brought Georgie to the heart of the blues scene nationally and internationally.
Born and raised in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, Georgie Bonds did not grow up listening to the blues or riding horses. While R&B records fed his musical inspiration since childhood, watching people ride in the park near his home sparked an interest in horses, and led him to buy his first horse at the age of twenty-one. This equine fascination led him to a livelihood in blacksmithing, a skill he trained for in Martinsville, Virginia. For fifteen years, he shod horses and continued to sing, while strumming on a guitar, making up songs for his own entertainment.
Georgie got his first taste of delta blues when a friend loaned him a Robert Johnson tape. There was something about the music that grabbed a hold of him and wouldn't let go. At that point he knew that the blues was what he needed. One night in the early 1990's, he stepped onto the stage of an open mic blues jam at "The Barbary," took a deep breath, and belted out "Stormy Monday," the only blues song he knew. Fortunately, blues legend Sonny Rhodes, who was hosting that night, took a liking to Georgie and became his mentor. Sonny introduced Georgie to more musicians, and taught him how to be a performer, not just a singer. Georgie's blues career was then well on it's way.
Then, in 1994, having put together a successful band, with gigs starting to pick up, everything came to a sudden halt as Georgie fell victim to a nearly fatal medication error, that practically incinerated him from within. The tragedy, with its long and painful recovery, could have destroyed his spirit, but remarkably, Georgie found grace through this trial. The test of that hardship has given deeper meaning to his musical career and his life, along with a renewed determination to succeed.
At Warmdaddy's, the preeminent blues club in Philadelphia, Georgie hosted the monthly, open mic blues jam, offering aspiring blues musicians the same support he received from Sonny Rhodes. As the house band, Georgie Bonds played with many Blues legends, such as Hubert Sumlin, Koko Taylor, Bernard Allison, Melvin Taylor, Kenny Neal, Mark Hummel, Slam Allen, Larry Garner, Bill Perry, Michael Hill's Blues Mob, Jimmy Vaughn, Carl Weathersby, Billy Branch and The Kinsey Report. And the list goes on. He has played in Europe and been invited for a return engagements.
The unusual and unlikely story of Georgie Bonds' life has led to some wonderful music. In 2001, Georgie independently released his debut CD, "Sometimes I Wonder" to significant critical acclaim. It took a while to overcome some health issues and a few other challenges that life threw at him, but Georgie was persistent and in 2013 Georgie released his second CD, "Stepping Into Time." Additionally, he was chosen for an acting/singing role in the Philadelphia production of the Broadway hit, "It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues," which was nominated for four Tony Awards and Best Musical and praised by the New York Times. Georgie has established himself as a world class singer, songwriter and blues entertainer and the best is yet to come. It seems as though the Blacksmith is blessed with the gift of making his dreams come true and his fans will reap the benefits of those beautiful dreams.
Here are a few videos featuring Georgie Bonds:
This video summarizes Georgie's journey leading up to the release of his 2013 album, "Stepping Into Time."
This is an ESPN Commercial from 2005 which promoted the game between the New York Giants and the San Diego Chargers. This game would be the first time Eli Manning would go to San Diego after refusing to play for the Chargers after they drafted him. He was subsequently traded to the Giants in exchange for Philip Rivers.
Here are photos from major event performances.
|Georgie's third album is another hard won victory, , released in October 2015 after he spent the first half of the year recoverying from multiple hip surgeries. The songs on this recording reflect many aspects of Georgie's personal blues journey. The first song, Pickin' Your Bones, is a tribute to Georgie's mentor who guided him as a fledgling blues singer – the great Sonny Rhodes. The last song, Another Year, is the first song Georgie wrote when, as a young man, he spent a couple years in a Federal prison. In between are songs of guilt and redemption, incarceration and freedom, toil and celebration, revenge and forgiveness, despair and wonder, loneliness and joy.|
This is Georgie Bonds' long-awaited second album. Georgie's powerful, soulful voice delivers heartfelt, emotional performances on every track as only he can. When Georgie Bonds sings a song, he owns it. His sweet but powerful voice delivers his pain, his joy, his passion, and his history with every song. It's genuine and you can't help but be moved. He's paid his dues by overcoming many difficult obstacles, some self-inflicted, arising along his life's journey. By refusing to yield and by conquering them, Georgie became stronger and wiser. It is our good fortune that his path led to this recording. This recording received significant critical acclaim. As Living Blues Magazine put it, "From seemingly out of nowhere, Georgie Bonds has emerged as a formidable, versatile bluesman with the potential to make a significant impact." This CD was nominated for Blues Foundation's 2014 Best Self-Produced CD competition by the Billtown Blues Association.
This is Georgie Bonds' first CD, released in 2000. It includes fresh Chicago and Texas style Blues along with R&B ballads. Each track delivers a very full and rich sound, with a legacy inherited from Georgie's mentor, Sonny Rhodes. Georgie's gut-wrenching vocals carry you back to your depth, and the band will bring you back to earth.
|Click on the CD images above for song samples at CDBaby.com|
Check out the full length versions of some representative songs from the Georgie Bonds catalog.
Below are a number of CD reviews and a collection of quotes about Georgie Bonds.
Georgie "The Blacksmith" Bonds has a right to sing the blues. Ever since Sonny Rhodes heard him sing Stormy Monday at Philadelphia's Barbary club in the early '90s, the self-proclaimed " Disciple of the Blues" served as his mentor. Bonds, a then-unknown Philadelphia black urban cowboy and blacksmith, dedicated his life to becoming a performing artist. After countless jam sessions during "open mic night" at Warmdaddy's (Philadelphia's most popular blues and soul food hotspot) the lessons Bonds learned from Rhodes have clearly paid off on his third album, Hit It Hard.
The 11 original compositions serve as a showcase for Bonds' myriad musical palette-he comfortably embraces an array of influences that permeate his own version of the blues hard-knock life. There's a little bit of a lot of things to like, from hard and straight shuffles (Butter Your Biscuit) to gritty New Orleans-flavored groove on Let's Get Down that feature lyrics and vocals reminiscent of the storytelling gifts of Robert Cray.
There's no shortage of warm harmonica riffs, hot guitar solos and cold-blooded song verses (on Deadly Poison) where Bonds warns about a wife's revenge on an abusive husband ("holding on to hate is the Devils favorite lie"). Bonds even makes it personal when sharing his insider knowledge regarding the woeful life of inmates doing time on both Paid Vacation and Another Year. Indeed, he knows of which he speaks-the latter tune was his very first original composition, and he wrote it while doing a two-year stint in prison.
But that life, thankfully, is behind him now. Since his two previous albums, Sometimes I Wonder and 2013's Stepping Into Time, Bonds has surrounded himself with a first-rate support group of producer/musicians in Buddy Cleveland and Neil Taylor (to whom Bonds appears to have relinquished the guitar chair, at least for this outing). Their tag-team efforts are clearly aimed at keeping him off the troubled tracks and on the blues radar screen, as the former blacksmith from Germantown appears to be using his horseshoe as a lucky charm.
- Wayne Goins (Living Blues)
Hit It Hard is more than just title of the new album by Pennsylvania Blues hall of Fame vocalist Georgie "The Blacksmith" Bonds - it is a way of life. Born and raised in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, Bonds became a prominent figure in Philadelphia's storied Black Cowboys organization where he learned to shoe horses and became a real life blacksmith. Bonds traded his heavy hammer for a guitar and rose to be a pinnacle of the City of Brotherly Love's blues community. Bonds delivers high intensity performances that hit you hard in the heart with soul-stirring emotion. His third album is another hard won victory, released in October of2015 after Georgie spent the first half of the year recovering from multiple hip surgeries. The 11 tracks feature his good friends, music and song writing partners guitarist Neil Taylor and harmonica man Buddy Cleveland. Opening track, the funkified "Pickin ' Your Bones." is a tribute to Georgie's mentor; the great Sonny Rhodes, who guided him as a fledgling blues singer. From there Bonds and his crew deliver driving real blues tracks that cover the emotional spectrum from a Saturday night house party to a morning after hangover. Saxophonists Vanessa Collier and Dave Renz spar during "Let's Get Down." Cleveland certainly should be considered for several songwriting awards for penning the new classic "Sentenced to the Blues." Bonds digs deep into the covers of Sam Taylor's "Not Tired of Living," and the Blind Willie Johnson gospel blues "The Soul Of A Man," making them his own sworn testimony. Bonds offers sage advice to "Butter your biscuit if you want that dough," and to never drink the "deadly poison" of hate. The final track, "Another Year," laments the prospect of spending another year in jail, and this was the first song Bonds wrote as a young man during a two-year stint in a federal prison. Hit It Hard has many poignant reflections on the harsh realities of life and shows that these difficult experiences can often result in high art and exquisite beauty.
- Rick J Bowen
I just received the newest release, Hit It Hard, from Georgie Bonds and it's a mover! Opening with Pickin' Your Bones,the band is hitting it hard with Buddy Cleveland on harp, Andy Haley on drums, Walter Runge on organ and Neil Taylor on guitar, Bond is leading the way on lead vocal. Great opener. Funky, Let's Get Down, has a great groove with Runge on piano backing Bonds' lead vocal and Vanessa Collier and Dave Renz trading sax solos. Corey Paternoster and Haley jazz it up a bit with some jazzy rhythms as well. Sentenced To The Blues is a solid down the middle slow blues and has the best of Bonds' vocals. Runge's organ work creates tension in the track, Cleveland lays out a really nice harp solo and Taylor hits a stiff guitar solo of his own. Very nice! Shuffle track, Not Tired Of Living, has an almost Elvin Bishop strut. Bonds has a cool swing and Taylor's guitar work, coupled with Cleveland's harp highlights leads to a full group chorus by Cleveland, Collier, Gina Burnett and Mike Bardzik. Come Back Baby is a blues fused rocker with a great bass line from Prince. Bonds vocals are inspired and Cleveland trades harp riffs with Runge on piano for a cool track. Ballad, The Soul Of A Man, is a really nice composition with Bonds' solid vocal work trimmed by Cleveland on harp. The use of Wurlitzer by Runge on this track was a nice choice accenting the feel of the track. Taylor plays a nicely articulated solo of his own giving the track a blusier feel. Very nice. Butter Your Biscuit and a cool shuffle with Bonds' vocal just off the beat. I really like when someone does this well and Bonds hits it perfectly. Taylor steps up with some of his coolest riffs on the release and Cleveland lays it out flat, backed by Runge on keys making this one of my favorite tracks on the release. Deadly Poison has a cool back beat and nice bass lines by Prince. Again, Runge chooses Wurlitzer for the perfect effect and Bonds, working with Collier and Matecki get the vocals spot on. Lumbering blues, Paid Vacation, sets a nice pace and solid bass lines by Prince and the freewheelin' vocals by Bonds really opens the door. Harp work by Cleveland and guitar work by Taylor makes this a super track. R&B track, Blues Job, is quick paced and reinforced by the sax work of Renz and Collier. Taylor steps up with some nice fluid guitar riffs on this track and ultra sassy sax lines make this another of my favorites on the release. Wrapping the release is Another Year, a quiet ballad featuring soft blending of Taylor's guitar work, Bonds vocals and Cleveland's harp. This is a nice conclusion to a cool release.
- Bman's Blues Report
We can attest to the fact that sometimes a lengthy hospital stay is a necessary evil to return you to some measure of good health and get you back into things you love to do. Thus, it is great to see singer Georgie Bonds recovered sufficiently from his recent hip surgeries to be back onstage to follow his credo to "Hit It Hard," which just happens to be the title of his latest album.
It's a look at life, love, trips down to the Crossroads and back, and the ultimate redemption that follows, all thru the eyes of a man that's been there and has a story to tell us all. He leads this one off with a boisterous shuffle done as a tribute to his mentor, Sonny Rhodes. Neil Taylor lays down the guitar over Buddy Cleveland's harp in the story of a no-good woman who'll end up "Pickin' Your Bones 'til Kingdom Come!" Sometimes we all get that feeling that our lives are a mundane grind, and we might be stuck in a "Blues Job," but we all "gotta make some dough!" This one features some punchy sax from Dave Renz and Vanessa Collier. And, every worker looks forward to Friday at 5 PM, where we can all 'get down with the gettin' down," a solid shot of dancefloor funk that is "Let's Get Down."
Georgie made some mistakes in his youth, owned up to them, and paid his debt. That period in his life is detailed in two songs. First up is a humorous look at his "Paid Vacation, at the State Penitentiary!" Neil's slide runs are all over this one, too. The set closes with the first song Georgie wrote, a somber look at spending "Another Year" behind bars, with Buddy adding a mournful harp.
We had two favorites, too. "Renting space in your soul to haters is just like drinking Deadly Poison, wanting someone else to die," is a stark reminder that holding a grudge leads only to trouble. And, a nothin-but-a-good-time shuffle is more of Georgie's words to live by—"you gotta Butter Your Biscuit if you want that dough!"
Georgie Bonds does a great read on Blind Willie Johnson's gospellish-blues that begs the musical question, "What is The Soul Of A Man?" We feel that listeners can find the answer to that elusive question within the depth and breadth of the grooves in "Hit It Hard!" Thanks for a great set, Georgie! Until next time…
- Sheryl and Don Crow (Nashville Blues Society)
Veteran blues singer Georgie Bonds delivers 11 songs with plenty of soul on this, his third album as leader. His clear voice remains prominent as he fronts a blues band with a big sound that takes its influence from keyboards, guitars, horns and rhythm. Backup singers play a hearty role on this session in order to balance Bonds' lead eloquently and with informal lines. The band moves in and out of the picture, taking occasional interludes from each direction; of particular interest is the harmonica of Buddy Cleveland who gives the program considerable pizzazz.
A slow and meaningful blues, "Sentenced to the Blues" allows Bonds to tell some of his life experience. He served time (just a bit) and found himself in need of some warm blues to pick himself back up. Harp master Cleveland lays it on thick as molasses in a lengthy sequence that lets them "preach" the blues like it was in the times of Robert Johnson and Elmore James.
Elsewhere, Bonds prefers to vary the mood from slow and soulful to fast and furious. He expresses each theme meaningfully, but he does so with various moods. There's sadness in his music and there's also a joyful approach. It all fits well under the umbrella of the blues..
- Jim Santella (Southland Blues E-weekly Newsletter)
So far, Georgie Bonds' life itself stands as a pretty vivid picture of the blues. Serving time in jail as a youth, he became a blacksmith upon release and straightened his life out. He eventually started performing as a singer in the 90's, after being inspired by a Robert Johnson cassette someone loaned him, but soon began battling a series of health issues (including a series of hip surgeries earlier this year), but has persevered through it all, recently releasing his third CD, Hit It Hard (Roadhouse Redemption Records).
I don't remember noticing this when reviewing Bonds' last CD (Stepping Into Time), but the singer's vocals are reminiscent of Robert Cray at times, the right amount of silk and grit. The setting of most of the songs is a bit more rustic than Cray's usual fare, however, since many of the tracks feature Buddy Cleveland's harmonica. Despite the similarities in vocal style, Bonds is very much his own man as a singer.
The opening track is "Pickin' Your Bones," written and previously recorded by Sonny Rhodes, and serves as a tribute to Bonds' musical mentor. "Let's Get Down" is a nice slice of New Orleans-styled funk, while "Sentenced To The Blues" is a fine original slow burner penned by Cleveland with a heartfelt performance from Bonds and strong work from Cleveland on harmonica and guitarist Neil Taylor. Cleveland also wrote the smooth shuffle "Butter Your Biscuit," and Taylor wrote the revenge tune "Deadly Poison."
Bonds contributes a few songs of his own, the highlights being a pair of tunes about time in prison ("Paid Vacation" and "Another Year," which was the first song he wrote while in prison). He also covers tunes from Sam Taylor ("Tired of Being Alone") and Blind Willie Johnson. The Johnson cover is "The Soul Of A Man," which comes off like a deep soul classic in Bonds' hands.
Providing superlative backing on the disc, in addition to Cleveland (harmonica/backing vocals) and Taylor (guitar/backing vocals) are Andy Haley (drums), Rick Prince (bass), Walter Runge (keys), Dave Renz (tenor sax), Vanessa Collier (sax/backing vocals), Corey Paternoster (percussion), Mike Bardzik (percussion), Paul Matecki (vocals), and Gina Burnett (vocals).
If there's any justice in the world, Hit It Hard will be a big success for Georgie Bonds. All the ingredients are in place…..a great set of diverse tunes and outstanding vocal and instrumental performances, so hopefully, this underrated singer will be able to kick his recent health issues and capitalize on this excellent release.
- Blues Bytes
It's almost Christmas time! Do your friends a favor and get them a copy of Georgie Bonds newest CD "Hit It Hard." No lie. Great stuff. Georgie just plays the blues and doesn't apologize. I love his energy and just downright funkiness, and grit! It mean put it in the car, crank it up, and go ahead on with your bad self. This is Georgie's third album and it's been a tough year. Georgie went through several surgeries, and recoveries, and still managed to get out some fine blues like this! To me, this is just throw back, real hard, hammer down, blues. Speaking of hammer, Georgie was a blacksmith in Philadelphia for 14 years, but never gave up on his blues guitar. He blazes guitar and sings from the soul, as we want him to. Also featured are his great buddies, and songwriters Neil Taylor on guitar, and harp player Buddy Cleveland. No friends like old friends I always say. With eleven cuts Georgie really gets to unload on that guitar and sing his heart out. Buddy blows some great harp, and top to bottom, it's just fun stuff. I can just see him playing. The cover art is by a friend Dane Tilghman and it shows Georgie "Hitting It Hard." Go here and look around GEORGIEBONDS.COM. He's on Facebook, he's on youtube, get some of it. It's fun, it's good, it's not pretentious, it's just the blues. Blues is a Healer! Ask Georgie, I know he feels better. You'll feel better too! Pass it along.
- Blue Barry (Smoky Mountain Blues Society)
Good back story, good music, what more do you want? Bonds might have never picked cotton but he was a blacksmith before putting down his hammer and picking up the mic. Recovering from several hip surgeries, this Pennsylvania blues hall of famer might be Germantown throughout but he knows his west side Chicago sound. Gritty and honest, this from the heart recordings is a must for contemporary, electric blues fans that want to raise the roof. Hard core, hot stuff, this set is easily a winner throughout. Check it out.
- MWRBlog (Midwest Record)
Track 1. - "Pickin' Your Bones". Written by Bob Greenlee and C.E. Smith.
Funky Bluesy intro to the album with Bonds displaying his impressive voice. A voice that is gruff and well weathered indeed but for me that is the appeal. Cleveland wails on harmonica as the band groove underneath him with Prince's bass shining. Taylor provides a very tasty guitar to this one. A solid intro into the feel and sound of one Georgie Bonds.
Track 2. - "Let's Get Down". Written by Neil Taylor.
Bass and brass led intro herald in a big bold sound that has an expressive but restrained Bonds singing a story of getting down and having fun with some of the greats of Blues. The call and response with the backup singers provide a joyous feel to this one as very bold brass accentuates the feel along with some amazing percussion from Paternoster and Bardzik. This is certainly one very talented and versatile band. So much to savour.
Track 3. - "Sentenced To The Blues". Written by Buddy Cleveland.
Solid Blues ballad with Bond's impeccable vocals underscored by long time friend harpist Cleveland. Very Chicago in feel with strong haunting organ from Runge. This is one classy offering from a talent laden outfit.
Track 4. - "Not Tired Of Living". Written by Sam Taylor.
By now the listener is well attuned to the impeccable harp playing of Buddy Cleveland and here again we have his harp intro-ing this mid tempo power packed offering. Taylor's guitar is stinging as it is expressive, perfect really. Bond has a real upper reach in his voice as he sings right up to his limit that gives his voice a fragility that is highly appealing and entertaining. Full compliment of Bond's outfit on this one finishing with his now omnipresent backing vocalists.
Track 5. - "Come Back Baby". Written by Georgie Bonds.
Rockin' Blues shuffler with a Texas feel about it. Bond is comfortable with this style as he pleads and wails his story over Cleveland's stunning harp. Not to be out done Runge pounds the 88's with abandon adding a wonderful rockin' feel to this one.
Track 6. - "The Soul Of A Man". Written by Willie Johnson.
Sensual, lithe ballad oozing sex appeal has Bonds in a vulnerable state of mind and soul. Here he pleads his case over a rather subdued band but with Cleveland again weaving his magic with his harp ably assisted by Runge's Wurlitzer and Taylor's guitar. The rhythm section of Prince and Haley is solid and precise. Certainly a moving emotion laden gem of a track.
Track 7. - "Butter Your Biscuit". Written by Buddy Cleveland.
Oh yeah, let's get down and boogie. Bond providing plaintive vocals and enjoying a call and response refrain with all of the back up singers. Taylor's guitar has a joyous sting to it as Runge works over the Wurlitzer to great effect. Now this is one party track for Cleveland to continue weave his magic on. An all round great track that everybody will fall instantly in love with.
Track 8. - "Deadly Poison". Written by Neil Taylor and Georgie Bonds.
A grinding dark ballad about just how nasty she can be has Bond in a controlled style that is not overly expressive but rather more forthright. Collier and Matecki provide the stunning backing vocals that accentuate Bond's voice. Runge plays a combination of organ and the Wurlitzer to great effect as he provides a wall of sound for Taylor's guitar to dance around. This is one fantastic mid tempo grinder. Very tasty indeed.
Track 9. - "Paid Vacation. Written by Neil Taylor and Georgie Bonds.
Story telling from Bonds written with Taylor is a pleading Blues. Bond's voice is expressive as he speaks his case for a vacation. Cleveland underscores the vocals and band in a stunning way that one can now understand that Buddy Cleveland is most definitely in the upper echelon of modern contemporary harpists. His control, inventiveness and reed are simply superb! Dark at times but the power and passion are tangible to say the least.
Track 10. - "Blues Job". Written by Neil Taylor.
Here we go up country on this one written by Taylor. Memphis style brass accentuate the rhythm and blues style backing as this one moves along in a take no prisoner style. Taylor wails on his guitar as the rhythm section of Haley and Prince keep the band moving along. Renz and Collier lay down some mighty fine reed work with the sax's. Once again Bond's vocals have a frantic almost spoken word feel about them but man it works and sounds mighty mighty fine indeed.
Track 11. - "Another Year". Written by Georgie Bonds.
Beautiful subdued intro for this powerful Blues ballad from Taylor and Cleveland. Here Bond is at his fragile best with vocals that are right on the edge. Taylor's guitar is expressive, powerful and stinging to the soul as he underscores this incredible offering from Bond and his band. This song has a wonderful vulnerability about it that is full of pathos and the phrasing by Bond is impeccable.
Where does one start with such a 'pretty' album? Yeah, yeah l know that pretty is not a word you use to describe a Blues album but this one is sublimely beautiful in it's structure, composition, instrumentation and performance. Bond may not have the strongest voice but it has that certain something about it that you just can't put your finger on just what it is. Needless to say that this is an album that needs to be heard in it's entirety to appreciate the sheer beauty contained within. I very much enjoyed this album and l believe that our listeners will feel the same. Philadelphia native Georgie Bonds is certainly a mighty fine singer who has surrounded himself with an extraordinary good band jam packed with amazing artists in their own right. Congratulations to all concerned, you have produced an absolutely wonderful album.
- Peter Merrett (PBS 106.7, Melbourne, Australia)
Last year, Georgie Bonds teamed up with producer Neil Taylor to cut Stepping Into Time, a fine album of rhythm and blues that I was lucky enough to be able to review in these pages (13 December 2014) and which I loved. Now Bonds is back with Hit It Hard, again with Neil Taylor handling the production. The result is every bit as good as its predecessor.
Bonds has one of those Jimmy Witherspoon or Big Joe Turner voices, big, buoyant and honest, a husky, hard-won way of singing that gets at the truth of a song, so that when it ends you're as likely to think "That's the truth, that's honest," as you are "That was good." You'll also be impressed with the sheer joy Bonds gets out of the physical act of singing. He is as happy a singer as Mick Fleetwood is a drummer and if there's one thing that characterizes Fleetwood's drumming, it is the sheer delight that you feel in his work. You feel that same delight in Bonds' vocalizing. It's obvious that he loves the art of singing and is only too happy to share his love with an audience, either close up on a live show or more remotely, as on a CD.
I might be stretching here but Bonds says he has been through some serious health problems in the past year -- among the credits is a thank you to the doctor who performed his surgeries recently -- so it might be that his delight comes from the simple fact that he still well and able to perform.
Once again, he is teamed with Neil Taylor, who is his perfect musical partner. Taylor, who wrote a few of the songs on the disc and co-wrote others with Bonds, has a strong affinity for Bonds' vocals and knows how to cradle them in a strong horn and harmonica based arrangement. He accomplishes the difficult task of supporting Bonds, making him shine as an individual while also making sure he is part of a strong ensemble. Each song, instead of being shoehorned into a pre-existing blues structure, is allowed to find its own way, achieving a sort of organic form that renders it original and unique. The arrangements always suit the song and feature one of the tightest, cookingest bands around.
Hit It Hard does just that. It hits hard.
- Michael Scott Cain (Rambles.NET)
Georgie Bonds has seen his share of hard times and managed to pull through and become a "better man" in the process...tackled his demons and built a life for himself that he can, and should be proud of. He has worked as a blacksmith and, now, due to circumstances beyond his control, he is playing blues...something he does with all the fervor that he approached his blacksmith work with. A no-nonsense kind of guy, he puts 100% into everything he does. With the aid of musical friends Neil Taylor and Buddy Cleveland from the Philadelphia area's "Pork Roll Project" on guitar and harmonica, Andy Haley on drums, Rick Prince on bass, Walter Runge on organ and more, he manages to pull off a set of contemporary blues that is upbeat and danceable, a factor that makes the band popular in clubs wherever they chose to hang their hats. He has also called in a number of background vocalists and friends Vanessa Collier and Dave Renz to give an assist on sax. The result is a blend of blues, soul, rock and pop that makes this a top-notch bar band. I found the band reminiscent of "Traffic", particularly on their cover of Blind Willie Johnson's "The Soul Of A Man." This band is tight and Bonds delivers the blues with power and authority. While I prefer my blues in a more traditional style, I have to acknowledge the talent of the band and the passion with which Georgie delivers his vocals. This is a performer who has tremendous potential and the drive to do whatever he wants. He has been inducted into the Pennsylvania Blues Hall of Fame as well as the America's Music Festival Series Hall of Fame in Media, Pa...and he is just getting started. This is someone to keep an eye on. Soar like an eagle or fall flat on his face, Georgie Bonds is in it for the long haul...nothing gets done half-way.
- Bill Wilson (Reflections In Blue)
Long live the indomitable spirit of blues vocalist Georgie Bonds! I've listened to him describe the incredible series of hardships in his life first-hand, while maintaining a very upbeat, gracious attitude about it. That was a few years ago, and since then Georgie has had multiple hip surgeries, but again, bounced back. As I listen to his music, I think of his infectious smile and sheer love of singing. The former blacksmith is again hosting the Tuesday night blues jam at Philly's long-running blues club Warmdaddys, and with the help of songwriting partners, guitarist Neil Taylor and harpist Buddy Cleveland, Georgie delivers his third album. For the most part he is supported by his five piece band, but local sax favorites Vanessa Collier and Dave Renz join the proceedings on several tracks, mostly notably in dueling fashion on "Let's Get Down."
It's impossible to capture Bonds' turbulent journey in one album, but he does represent some of it on these tracks. "Pickin' Your Bones" is a tribute to his mentor Sonny Rhodes, who helped a scuffling Georgie get started. "Deadly Poison" refers to his near fatal reaction to prescription medicine after suffering from severe burns. The final track, "Another Year," has the protagonist facing another foreboding year in jail. This is the first song he ever wrote, done during his own two year stint in Federal prison. Today Georgie is a beacon of optimism, and one who can always count on support from his ever growing community of friends. He sings straight from the heart and soul. Feel it, and count your own blessings.
- Jim Hynes (Elmore Magazine)
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 (Living Blues Magazine)
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)
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, (Blues Blast Magazine)
This album opens with a short a capella version of "St James Infirmary" which immediately establishes Bonds' credentials as a tough, gritty soulful and rich baritone vocalist with plenty of depth and emotion. Bonds is from Philadelphia and spent fifteen years working with horses before a friend loaned him a Robert Johnson tape and the delta blues grabbed him. Bonds tells his story in the autobiographical country blues "The Blacksmith" which features heavy riffing slide guitar from Neil Taylor and superb wailing harmonica from Buddy Cleveland. The jazzy swing shuffle "What More?" features spicy sax from Dave Renz and a tasty guitar break from Harry Jacobson. "Lord, Oh Lord" is a funky N'Awlins style second liner driven by drummer Andy Haley and Taylor's fierce slide guitar plus bar-room piano from Walter Runge. Angry, but soulful, vocals dominate the lengthy minor key blues ballad "Daily News" as Bonds bemoans the current state of society. Centrepiece of the album is the organ driven "Dyin' Is The Easy Way" which features funky bass from James White, upbeat vocals and a screaming guitar solo from Taylor. A complete change of pace comes with the gentle soul ballad "Calling Your Name" featuring Bonds' crooning taking centre stage. Other highlights are a pair of funky blues-rockers "Going Shopping" and "I Need Somebody" and the heartfelt "Hurricane Blues." Closer is John Lee Hooker's perennial stomper "Dimples" with Bonds' growling vocals and Taylor's tasty guitar leading the way home. There is a bonus track with a stripped down version of "The Blacksmith" featuring acoustic guitar and wailing harp behind Bonds' raw vocals. This is a cracking album which I thoroughly enjoyed and comes highly recommended.
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 (Making A Scene, makingascene.org)
Georgie was born in Germantown in Philadelphia, the now 62 year old musician has carried on the musical heritage that his father and grandfather had perpetuated as jazz men (another musical connection within the family is that his cousin 'Bootsy' was the lead vocalist with The Silhouettes who had the hit record "Get A Job," ).
Originally he wanted to be a cowboy and his love of horses led him to owning and riding his own steed, unfortunately at the same time he had an equal love for illegal pharmaceutical products and he decided to go into business for himself, equally unfortunate was the fact his very first customers were F.B.I. agents and this led him into a jail term of just under three years in 1976.
Whilst in jail Georgie had plenty of time to ponder his future and while gaining himself a formal education he passed the time by learning the guitar and writing his first blues number entitled "Another Year," based upon his life in prison, although, he possessed little or no knowledge of the blues he with the encouragement of other inmates pursued the potential of performing as a future career.
After his release from jail and armed now with his twin passions he embarked upon a career as a professional farrier (blacksmith) gaining over time the necessary qualifications to work full time with the animals he loved. At some point during his fourteen years as a farrier time he borrowed a tape of Robert Johnson recordings and this in turn led directly to Georgie's first performing foray into the blues world at the Barbery Club on Delaware Avenue in 1990, singing "Stormy Monday," (the only blues number he knew) after this performance an intrigued host, the legendary Sonny Rhodes decided to become Georgie's mentor guiding and tutoring him in the right direction and in turn, to meeting other established blues musicians, leading him to where he is today.
Sadly, his rise was halted in 1994 by an attack of gout and Lyme disease, complications occurred, due to incorrect drugs being prescribed which led to nearly life ending third degree burns, kidney failure and later two hip replacements. After time and suitable compensation Georgie became able to continue his musical career (his new hips halted his horse riding days) which has allowed him to become not only the host of Warmdaddy's the newest blues club in the oldest part of the city of Philadelphia but, the leader of his own band The Blueskeepers, who are also the resident club band. He has also trod the boards of Broadway as a cast member of the Tony nominated musical "It Ain't Nothing But The Blues,"
The rich, warm emotional baritone tones of Georgie are well suited to his opening a cappella version of "St James Infirmary," he creates a vivid atmosphere of painful desolation, grief and sorrow. Of the of the eleven other numbers only one is a cover, that being John Lee Hooker's "Dimples," which is an open, almost tactile rumbling drum driven coaster with rich searing guitar surfing the rufty, tufty percussion while over the top Georgie growls with love and impudence.
A surprise bonus number is a fine drawling steel guitar and harmonica slowburn version of "The Blacksmith," with Georgie's commanding vocal searing and branding the airwaves. The earlier version of the autobiographical "The Blacksmith," is a sturdy, growling organ / slide driven pumper with Georgie duelling with a harsh and barbed bouncing guitar under attack from a raw, rasping harmonica. The New Orleans infused romping "Lord, Oh Lord," has that highly infectious martial strut, with piano and drum beating a path to salvation and a lighter load, the rich sliding guitar and jollifying piano are almost as plaintive as the pleading vocals of Georgie.
The mournful slow burning harmonica duets with Georgie over the top of a even more mournful organ as he laments upon our downwardly spiralling morals, as in the "Daily News," tales of sad and unnecessary daily deaths and atrocities that people inflict on each other for no apparent rhyme or reason. The grooving, strutting, funky guitar joins the riding urban organ roller that is "Dyin' Is The Easy Way Out," which deals with the simple fact that no matter how hard life has become, death is not a serious escape option.
- Brian Harman (bluesinthenorthwest.com)
Philadelphia bluesman Georgie Bonds has a history as interesting as his music. An early fascination with horses led him to buy one at the age of 21 and become a member of Philadelphia's famous Black Cowboys. His immersion into horse culture led him to train as a blacksmith in Martinsville, West Virginia, and for 15 years he made his living that way, while playing guitar and singing for his own amusement.
Then he heard Robert Johnson.
Like so many other blues performers, hearing Johnson turned his head around, made him want to do that himself, so he began playing and singing the delta blues, winding up in the house band at Philadelphia's prime blues club, Warmdaddy's, where he backed up such artists as Hubert Sumlin, Koko Taylor, Jimmy Vaughn and Bernard Allison. It was just a step from there to become a recording and touring artist.
So how is his music? In a word, wonderful.
The album opens with an a capella version of "St. James Infirmary," which proves that all you need for the blues is a great song and a great voice. It's a mesmerizing take on a familiar song, makes you hear it anew and makes you want to hear more of Georgie Bonds. It's followed by "The Blacksmith," which features some slashing Muddy Waters-style slide guitar and Bonds turning a story of blacksmithing into 5 minutes of sexual innuendo.
Bonds and main producer Neil Taylor have assembled a first-rate band, who drive these arrangements, push them forward, so that the record cooks; the arrangements follow standard blues riffs, but bring an original kick to them, so that it is all fresh and new. And through it all Bonds unique and distinctly his own voice is foremost.
It has taken Georgie Bonds a long time -- poor health slowed him down -- and a lot of work but he is ready to emerge as one of the blues' major artists.
- Michael Scott Cain (Rambles.NET)
Georgie Bonds didn't start out as a blues singer. Even though he loved R&B music when he was growing up, he was fascinated with horses, eventually becoming a blacksmith even though he continued to sing for his own entertainment. He fell in love with the blues after listening to a friend's cassette tape of Robert Johnson and attracted the attention of blue legend Sonny Rhodes at a open mic blues jam. Rhodes became a mentor to Bonds and helped get him started on his career as a blues singer.
Bonds' first CD, "Sometimes I Wonder," was released in 2001 to critical acclaim, and he was chosen to appear in the Philadelphia production of the Tony-winning "It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues," but his career was sidelined due to health concerns. Fortunately, Bonds has recovered and just released "Stepping Into Time" (BGB Music), a magnificent showcase for his powerful vocals which should propel him into the upper echelon of blues singers. Backed by a stellar band that includes producer 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 on harmonica, Bonds just rips through this twelve-song set (ten originals, two covers) like a man on a mission. The opening cut, an a cappella reading of "St. James Infirmary," lets you know that Bonds is no ordinary blues singer. His haunting vocal on this track will stay with you for awhile.
The autobiographical track, "The Blacksmith" appears in two versions; first as a tough country blues rocker, then as an epilogue as a bonus acoustic version. There's plenty of good blues here with songs like the pleading shuffle "What More," "Lord, Oh Lord" is a New Orleans-styled second-liner. "Daily News" finds Bonds deploring the state of affairs in the world. "Dyin' Is The Easy Way" has an R&B feel with a "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" theme, and "Calling Your Name" is a gentle soulful ballad.
Other standouts include the slow blues "Out of the Fryin' Pan," and a pair of funky blues rockers ("Going Shopping" and "I Need Somebody"). John Lee Hooker's "Dimples" is the unofficial closer, and Bonds really outdoes himself with his reading of the classic. "Stepping Into Time" shows that Georgie Bonds could develop into a force to be reckoned with on the blues scene if things start going his way. Vocal gifts like his only come around once in a while, so blues fans are encouraged to give this one a listen.
- Graham Clarke (Friday Blues Fix Blog, Blues Bytes)
Georgie Bonds grew up in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, finding a fascination with horses who were ridden by folks in a nearby park, so much so that he purchased his own horse at age twenty-one. He even took up blacksmithing as a trade, becoming, indeed, a modern-day "urban cowboy."
He also learned to play guitar and sing for his own entertainment, until life got in the way, as it always does. A near-fatal reaction to some prescription drugs nearly did him in, but he persevered, even thru some subsequent jail time. This man has some serious "street cred," (as if he needed any!), and his practice has paid off with the release of "Stepping Into Time," ten originals and two covers that find him expounding on love, life, his livelihood, and topical looks at the decay of today's society, his powerful vocals and tasteful backing musicians bringing it all home.
You gotta love the double-entendres' that ride over the slide of Neil Taylor and Buddy Cleveland's harp as Georgie's swagger lets us know that his tongs are in one hand and his hammer will find the spot! A jazzy riff crafted by Dave Renz' sax has Georgie admitting that he had some past transgressions, but once you get "three rooms and a good woman, What More does a poor man need?"
The brooding, minor-key slow-blues of "Daily News" tells a sad tale of our own moral decay, on display each night on TV. "Hurricane Blues" can be added to that same metaphorical list, as Georgie warns of those "storm clouds comin' and the skies are getting dark!" The set closes with Georgie taking an adventurous romp thru the stop-time endless boogie of the Hook's "Dimples." (Please continue to listen after it's over for a bonus cut…).
We had two favorites, too. Hard-core funk rocks the tale of poor Georgie, who has all the money he needs, but "still can't find nothing to fix my heart." And, curiously, Georgie opens with perhaps the most poignant cut on the set, an a cappella version of "St. James Infirmary. This is a maudlin song indeed, and Georgie's sparse, jaw-dropping vocal read only adds to the power of the performance.
Georgie Bonds has lived to realize two dreams—to be a cowboy and a singer. Add to that the fact that he's overcome more adversity than most people can imagine, making "Stepping Into Time" a highly-personal statement and an excellent set of blues!
Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow (The Nashville 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 (Smoky Mountain Blues Society)
And the rappers talk about keeping it real? Bonds spent way too many years in jail and then got the best job he could---shoeing horses. You tell me that ain't a prelude to the blues. Writing and singing from a place in his gut most of us will probably never find on our own (thank the Lord), this is traditional blues that ain't from the cotton fields. Forget Delta, Piedmont and all that, this is stuff you can feel down to your toes with thoughts the best newspapers used to publish when they were still in the news business. Killer stuff that'll grab you no matter what your musical taste.
- Chris Spector (Midwest Record)
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 (Reflections In Blue)
I just received the newest release, Stepping Into Time, from Georgie Bonds and it's smooth. Opening with the classic St. James Infirmary, Georgie Bonds, singing a capella establishes himself immediately as a solid soulful vocalist. Joined on The Blacksmith, a Robert Johnson rooted blues track with cool rhythm and slide work from Neil Taylor as well as Kenny Githens on bass,Andy Haley on drums, Walter Runge on organ and with a gritty harp solo from Buddy Cleveland this is a real nice track. On swing jazz track, What More?, Bonds really takes the track for a ride and sax work from Dave Renz adds a heavy warmth. Harry Jacobson whips down a slick guitar solo as well. On New Orleans influenced Lord, Oh Lord Haley and Runge really set the tempo and Buddy Cleveland punctuates Bonds fine vocal work. Daily News is a bluesy ballad and Bonds is certainly up to the soulful task. Neil Taylor plays a well heeled guitar solo over the solid organ work of Runge and still regiment of Haley. Very nice! On funky organ track Dyin' Is The Easy Way, Runge and Joey Stout on piano set a nice pace. Bonds is certainly up to the challenge, James White plucks some fine bass riffs and Taylor rips it wide open with a screaming guitar solo. Another strong soul ballad, Calling Your Name is a cool spotlight for Bonds on vocal. A slow dancer this track has basic backing from Runge on piano and Haley on drums. Kicking it up to full funk blues, Going Shopping is pushed along by funky riffs by Taylor, Haley, and Kenny Githens on bass. One of the hottest tracks on the release it features a cool organ solo from Runge and nicely articulated solo from Taylor as well. A fine slow blues, Out Of The Fryin' Pan gives Bonds to really show his blues vocal chops. Taylor lays up a nice guitar solo heavily supported by Runge and Stout on keys. James White is tight on bass and Haley never misses a beat. I Need Somebody is a funky rocker with a Bonds on top and cool harp additions by Cleveland. On Hurricane Blues, Taylor rips some pretty hot riffs supporting Bonds solid vocals and cool bass riffs from Githens. Wrapping the release is John Lee Hookers, Dimples, with a bit more polish than Hooker but still with a nice rawness and broken delivery. I like Russ Joels drum work on this track and think Taylor does some of his most aggressive yet bluesy guitar work complimented by Cleveland on harp and bringing out the rawest vocal delivery by Bonds on the release. A rudimentary delta style track with harp and acoustic guitar take it home. Very Nice!
- B'man (www.bmansbluesreport.com)
Track 1 - "St. James Infirmary"
A stunning breathtaking introduction to this album has Bond delivering a heart wrenching take on Irving Mills classic Blues. Bond displays his amazing voice a cappella with masterful phrasing and control. Sublime!
Track 2 - The Blacksmith"
Riff driven Blues that pounds along with the whole band on display as they weave around Bond's strong vocals which again displays a maturity honed from years of paying his "dues". The Blues is layered and textured into a tapestry of a Country Blues ramble that may be autobiographical.
Track 3 - "What More (do a poor man need)"
Here we have a minor key jumper that burbles along with a solid rhythm section and spicy keys and Jacobson lays down some tasty guitar. This is a love story Bonds style that is take no prisoners as what more does a poor man need than just the basics.
Track 4 - "Lord, Oh Lord"
Time for a second line down Rampart street N'Awlins, a funky gumbo indeed. Great slide from Taylor and that wonderful omnipresent rhythm section are again at the forefront of this one Joe Stout's piano keeps that N'Awlins feel authentic. Bond be cries he just wants life to improve and stop the ran from raining down.
Track 5 - "Daily News"
This is a powerful insightful interpretation of what we have in life today. A slow minor key Blues that smolders as Bond's deliverers a bleak look at life and what we are doing to ourselves. It surely does give you the Blues.
Track 6 - "Dyin' Is The Easy Way"
R&B grooves drive this one as Bond growls and roars his story. Stunning percussion and keys from Runge highlight this one along with the guitar of Jacobson. We just have to get on with living and ain't that the truth. Catchy and funky.
Track 7 - "Calling Your Name"
Soulful slow Blues has Bond in a chilled laid back incantation of himself as he displays a softer side. Sophisticated is a word that comes to mind with this one as he lays his heart on his sleeve and of course there has to be a lady involved with this one. A balladeer he is and not just a Blues shouter.
Track 8 - "Going Shopping"
Oh yeah, funky driving keys laden Blues. Frantic and jumping hard. Hey he has the money but can he find what he needs to fix her heart. I can see this as a popular live track. Don't blink or hold your breath or else you a going to miss something here as all the bases are loaded!
Track 9 - "Out Of The Fryin' Pan"
Bond again displays his ability to interpret in song all that is happening around us. Slow, slow mournful Blues with understated backing that again weaves a magical web around Bond's vocals. I suppose we would all agree that the grass is always greener in another man's yard but at what cost? This one has that special "feel" that is nigh impossible to place ones finger on but damn it's good.
Track 10 - "I Need Somebody "
After the previous heavily orchestrated gems we go back to Bond's growl and a more stripped bare bones sound with Taylor/Jacobson laying down some solid guitar and Cleveland playing the "Mississippi Saxophone" with stunning tonality.
Track 11 - Hurricane Blues"
Bonds delivers with a hurricane in his voice as he preaches as what we have to do to stay out of the "Hurricane Storm". The adaptability Bond's has in his voice is a standout that can be ever so sweet but also dark and cutting. Jacobson riffs menacingly to great effect!
Track 12 - "Dimples"
Yeah l can see Mr. Hooker standing back stage, nodding in approval as Bonds lays down Hookers down home classic. Oft recorded l agree so there is a need to stamp oneself all over the song but also not insult Mr. Hooker. Bond does so splendidly with a power packed rendition. The band really work out on this one with Taylor searing his strings and it is a perfect conclusion to an outstanding album and one l am so happy to have had the pleasure to hear. This album got me rockin' and smiling the Blues, one way l know when l am really digging it. Trust me when l say the Georgie Bonds is a Blues dynamo that deserves to be heard and heard all over the world! He will be getting that exposure here in Australia and like me the Blues cats are going to really dig this guy. Have a listen and you will start smiling and rockin' too!
The wait for this one was more than worth it. I have longedly looked at this on the release page wondering just what it would sound like and now l am excited at the prospect of us playing this on air. He is the epitome of a Blues man and a great song writer along with it who has assembled an amazing band. As always thanks for this one, Top shelf indeed.
- Peter Merrett (PBS106.7, Melbourne, Australia)
Living Blues Magazine
"This is a very solid debut for Bonds, called "Gator Mouth." Bonds has a big, shouting voice. The playlist, apparently all originals, brings out touches of Albert King, Luther Allison, and Magic Slim. Some of the best moments, though, come on Killing Me, a very fine soul ballad that recalls Luter Ingram's If Loving You is Wrong (I Don't Want To Be Right)."
Mark Smith, the Blues Pilot, 88.9 KJLU Jefferson City Missouri
"[Sometimes I Wonder] will be included in heavy rotation. Very tasty ear candy that strikes you deep intor your blues roots, with a touch of funk and kind of reminiscent of the Stax R & B days. Guaranteed to make the blues world take notice."
MSSHD - Bob's Pic's of the Month
"Here we have one of the most traditional blues singers an dplayer to come along for some time. It just reminds you of BB Kind but (no disrepect to BB) he seems to rock a bit more. Maybe it's the band. The're a tight unit and I like the sound the emit. At least four songs on this collectio are going to make you get out of your chair and start dancing. The rest will just make you listen. I think Georgie ways it best. 'We've always got some blues for your soul and soul for yor blues.' Sorry Baby is my personal favorite. It's hot! Get your copy today."
Richie Babb, Program Director, WFOS-FM, Chesapeake, VA
"I just got the Georgie Bonds CD this week. I love it. I added several cuts today. Billy Diamond Down, Sometimes I Wonder, Tell Me One More Time, Killing Me, and Don't Ask Me for No Money are in regular rotation. Sorry Baby is in hot rotation. This CD will definitely make our January Top 25 report to Living Blues… Keep up the good work."
The Blues Authority, Bucks County Blues Society
"With his marvelous voice, equally infused with joy and pain, and his excellent, aptly named band, Georgie Bond's desire to sare the legacy comes through in each performance."
Jos Van Den Boom, Crossroads, Brto-radio, Holland
"…all very soulfull, played with a lot of horns, and sung by Georgie himself with his fantastic, powerfull voice. Unlike most other bluesmusicians Georgie's sings not to dwell on his misfortunes, but to celebrate his survival. So, his device is: we've always got some blues for your soul, and soul for your blues! Maybe because of that, the music of Georgie Bonds is more accessible to the general public."
Here's an interview with Georgie Bonds conducted by the primary Blues community and web site in Greece, Blues.Gr:
Georgie "The Blacksmith" Bonds orn and raised in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, Georgie Bonds did not grow up listening to the blues or riding horses. Georgie got his first taste of delta blues when a friend loaned him a Robert Johnson tape. There was something about the music that grabbed a hold of him and wouldn't let go. At that point he knew that the blues was what he needed. One night in the early 1990's, he stepped onto the stage of an open mic blues jam at "The Barbery," took a deep breath, and belted out "Stormy Monday," the only blues song he knew. Fortunately, blues legend Sonny Rhodes, who was hosting that night, took a liking to Georgie and became his mentor.
Then, in 1994, having put together a successful band, with gigs starting to pick up, everything came to a sudden halt as Georgie fell victim to a nearly fatal medication error, that practically incinerated him from within. The tragedy, with its long and painful recovery, could have destroyed his spirit, but remarkably, Georgie found grace through this trial. The test of that hardship has given deeper meaning to his musical career and his life, along with a renewed determination to succeed. At Warmdaddy's, the preeminent blues club in Philadelphia, Georgie hosted the monthly, open mic blues jam, offering aspiring blues musicians the same support he received from Sonny Rhodes. As the house band, Georgie Bonds shared the stage and played with Hubert Sumlin, Koko Taylor, Melvin Taylor, Mark Hummel, Slam Allen, Larry Garner, Bill Branch and The Kinsey Report and the list goes on. In 2001, Georgie independently released his debut, "Sometimes I Wonder" to significant critical acclaim. It took a while to overcome some health issues and a few other challenges that life threw at him, but Georgie was persistent and in 2013 Georgie released his second CD, "Stepping Into Time." Additionally, he was chosen for an acting/singing role in the broadway hit, It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues, which was nominated for Tony Awards and Best Musical and praised by the New York Times. Georgie has established himself as a world class singer/songwriter and blues entertainer and the best is yet to come. It seems as though the Blacksmith is blessed with the gift of making his dreams come true and his fans will reap the benefits of those beautiful dreams.
What do you learn about yourself from the blues and what does the blues mean to you?
I first heard the Blues when a friend mine gave me a tape of Robert Johnson songs. As soon as I heard that music I felt a sort of life connection to it. As I learned more about the trials and tribulations of those older Blues men, I felt a connection to the trials I've endured in my own life. I think the Blues have a healing property. Singing the Blues always lifts me up when I'm feeling down and that must be why those old Blues guys sang the Blues.
How do you describe Georgie Bonds sound and songbook? What characterize your music philosophy?
I guess my sound is similar to the electric Blues sound from Chicago but with a little R&B and funk mixed in. I like to say my music is "Blues for your soul and soul for your Blues." I don't really have a philosophy about my music. When I write a new song, I don't really control what it's going to be in the end. It's just what occurs to me naturally.
"Blues music has a devoted following because it tells the truth."
Which is the moment that you change your life most? Is it easier to write and play the blues as you get older?
Well, as I said, my outlook on music changed when I heard the Blues for the first time. I felt a connection to the Blues that I never had with any other type of music. As I get older it does seem to get easier for me to express how I really feel about things.
Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What is the best advice ever given you?
I’d have to say that meeting Sonny Rhodes was very important for me. Sonny was the first actual Blues man that I met in my life. He became my mentor and gave me lots of encouragement and advice when I was starting out in my career as a Blues singer. Most of the members of his band later became members of my first band and that really encouraged me and gave me confidence.
Are there any memories from Sonny Rhodes, Hubert Sumlin, and Koko Taylor which you’d like to share with us?
I probably have the most memories from my time with Sonny Rhodes. When I first started singing, I was pretty nervous and pretty stiff on stage. I usually had my hands in my pockets and my eyes closed. Sonny would tease me and say, “Blacksmith! Get them hands out of your pockets,” and “Hey, open your eyes so you can see where the bottles and cans will be coming from.” He was teasing me but it was good advice too. Once I came into the club with a baseball hat on backwards. Sonny hollered, “Blacksmith, are we thinking backwards tonight? Turn that hat around!” I haven’t worn my hat backwards since.
What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of the blues?
I don’t think I miss anything from the Blues of the past. There’s lots of good new stuff coming out all the time and you can still hear the good stuff from the past in today’s Blues music. I think as long as people listen and understand the meaning and truth of the Blues, the music will have a following that will continue to expand.
If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
Mainly, I’d like to expose more and more people to the Blues and the power of the music. Most people like it when they hear it but often they don’t realize that they’re listening to the Blues.
What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues with Soul and continue to Gospel and R&B music?
Soul, Gospel and R&B music have the same sort of spiritual meaning and healing power as the Blues do.
What has made you laugh lately and what touched (emotionally) you from the local music circuits?
The lyrics of Blues songs always touch me and often make me laugh. Not just because they might be funny but also because of the joy I feel when I sing the Blues. When I play with my band, we spend a lot of time laughing because we’re just enjoying it so much.
Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day?
I’d love to go back to Chicago in the 1950’s to meet and hear and maybe play with those guys who started the electric Blues, like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Willie Dixon. That would be a great day.
Here's Georgie's current performance schedule:
If you are interested in booking Georgie or would like any addtional information, you can contact him by any of the following means: