Material: Johnny Spark & the Boys deliver a timeless brand of music that wears its roots proudly on its sleeve. This is Detroit born and bred rock ‘n’ roll that puts the emphasis on power chords, tight compact hooks and over the top showmanship. The MC5, Stooges, and even early Mitch Ryder, all factor into the JSB sound. Songs of note include “Chance for Your Love,” “Bad Ass Bone” and “Heart in Hand” igniting the set.
Musicianship: This is certainly a veteran outfit, with an interesting dynamic that pits the high energy of frontman Enforcie against the backdrop of solid, albeit pedestrian, support. Spark and Charboneau flank the stage like bookends and create a wall of sound in the process. Spark appears more calculated in his leads, and offers a predominance of chordal framework, while Charboneau seems a lot more freewheeling and up in the mix. Landini provides plenty of warmth and intricate walking lines that roll out the carpet for Kaster’s no nonsense four-on-the-floor grooves.
Performance: The band’s nine-song set flowed fairly effortlessly from one tune to the next. Enforcie hit the stage on the opener “This City” and was a whirling dervish of activity for the next thirty minutes. He had a very theatrical approach that seemed to draw from touchstones like Iggy Pop, Glenn Danzig and David Johansen. Spark provided some strong backup vocals, although he occasionally appeared low in the mix. Overall, the band was in sync and the interaction was good, but they really hit their stride about two songs in. The capacity crowd appeared to pick up on that fact and responded in kind.
Summary: Johnny Spark & the Boys is an act with a history that spans over three decades. Their unabashed and unapologetic rough and ready onslaught has held up very well, with the addition of guitarist Charboneau and lead singer Enforcie. Veteran members Spark and Landini hold down the fort with strong songs that have stood the test of time and still sound fresh. With, what seems like, a mild resurgence in “real” rock & roll hitting the airwaves today, JSB’s classic attack might be just what the
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The Players: Johnny Spark, guitar and vocals; Billie Enforcie, lead vocals; Tom Landini, bass; Jason Charboneau, guitar; Mark Kaster, drums.