Journey On

CD: BG 8020

1997

Hans Theessink: voc. guitars, mandolin, harmonica
Jon Sass: tuba
Ali Thelfa: drums, percussion, back.vocals
Richard Bell: organ / Angus Thomas: bass
Cindy Cashdollar: dobro
Dave Pearlman: pedal steel
Christian Dozzler: accordeon
Dorretta Carter: back.vocals / Terry Evans: back.vocals
Ray Williams: back.vocals
Dana Gillespie: back.vocals

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The cover shows him barreling a Cadillac convertible through a flatland sunset with his National Steel in the passenger seat. The disc reveals a man as laid-back as the landscape he traverses, singin‘ the blues with a voice the texture of black molasses and playing guitar as if he were born to it. The overall feel of  the music is deeply acoustic, devastating competent and perfect for rural Cadillac driving, though barbs in the lyrics banish any complacency. Deeper listening reveals the care that has gone  into the arrangements, resulting in a work that is disarmingly straightforward at the onset, but reveals new treasures at each subsequent listening. In short, it’s a diamond. Theessink is deservedly outstanding in his field – Nobody living does it better.
Alan Rose, The Living Tradition, UK,  September 98

Here are some very tasteful and well produced tracks, including seven striking originals that illustrate that Theessink can write evocative and poetic lyrics. He has a great art of weaving traditional material around his own to create a distinctive and personal sound. This is a highly enjoyable set.
Bob Tilling, Blue Print, UK, May 98

Taking his cues from the ’70s output of Ry Cooder, there is nothing in the sound of the Dutch-born and raised Hans Theessink that would indicate he learned his craft from albums and not from being raised in the swamps of Mississippi. His dusky baritone, greasy slide licks, and soulful male backup singers (led by Cooder vet Terry Evans who turns in a stunning performance throughout) plant him firmly into the deep South. The gospel feel of the title track, along with its subtle shuffle beat and rousing yet mellifluous supporting vocalists, sounds as natural as if he spent his entire life soaking up the spirits of the bluesmen he obviously adores. When he and the elegant singers harmonize on “Set Me Free,” with pedal steel crying and longtime cohort John Sass’ tuba counterpointing the bass, you can almost feel the flies buzzing around your head as you sit beside the banks of the mighty Mississippi. The ghost of Robert Johnson haunts this graceful music, yet the feel is less of the raw Delta blues than of a shimmering, daydream inhabited by the spirits of the swamp. Similar to J.J. Cale, Theessink finds his soul hovering through the backwoods, and with his sympathetic band, he has created an album that is hypnotizing in its intensity. Jaunty covers of Willie Dixon’s humorous “29 Ways,” Rufus Thomas’ classic “Walking the Dog,” and Leadbelly’s “Bourgeois Blues” all get similar treatment, as Theessink nudges these often-covered tunes into the marsh and mud, wrapping his voice around them and providing interpretations so unique and distinctive it seems he’s re-written the songs. An album-closing solo turn on Muddy Waters’ “Feel Like Going Home” is a beautiful, sad coda, as the guitarist takes his time languidly unspooling the track, as if he’s playing at home alone. In fact, the entire disc sounds comfy and cozy, with Theessink secure in his talents and especially those of his remarkable band. This is an artist steeped in the blues, but like Ry Cooder, one who successfully interprets it in his own characteristic fashion, which is what makes Journey On so consistently engaging, on so many levels.
Hal Horowitz, All Music Guide USA

Er ist wirklich ein kleines Ein-Mann-Wunder, dieser Hans Theessink. Der Holländer mit Wahlheimat Österreich, der sich aber mit Vorliebe im Süden der USA herumtreibt, mixt sein persönliches Gebräu aus erdigem Country-Blues mit würzigen Gospel-Kräutern so überzeugend, daß beim unvorbelasteten Hören niemand auf die Idee käme, einen Europäer zu hören. Auch auf “Journey On” klingt seine Stimme wieder lässiger, träger selbst als die von J.J.Cale, tiefer als die von Barry White und so welterfahren wie die von B.B.King. Seine famose amerikanische Band spielt ihr Können mit ähnlich lässiger Kraft aus. Wenn Theessink grummelt “Roll on, mighty Mississippi, roll on…..”, Jon Sass seine ultra-fetten Tuba-Baßlinien drunterschiebt und im Hintergrund eine Steelguitar schluchzt, dann geht wirklich der Mond auf !
C.St., WOM-Journal (D)

Mit vom Staub endloser Highways geschmirgelter Stimme singt HT melancholische Blues-Balladen, wie sie schwermütiger selbst Van Morrison nicht interpretieren könnte. Dann wieder pendelt er mit der coolen Lässigkeit eines J.J.Cale zwischen Cajun-Klängen und swingendem Rhythm ‘n Blues oder zupft tiefschwarzen Delta-Blues auf seiner Resonator-Gitarre.
Musik Express/Sounds, D

Seine Vita – in Holland geboren und in Österreich ansässig – liest sich nicht gerade „bluesig“. Dabei präsentiert sich Theessink nicht nur stilecht als Meister des Slide-Röhrchens und der Resonator-Gitarre, sondern er singt wirklich cool mit sonorer Baß-Stimme. Seine Blues-Vorbilder hat der Holländer sorgfältig studiert, so daß er auf seinem fünfzehnten Album ohne falsche Bescheidenheit Beiträge von Muddy Waters und Rufus Thomas covern darf. Dabei legt er soviel Delta-Blues-Authentizität an den Tag wie kaum ein zweiter weißhäutiger Kollege.
PB, Soundcheck, D