JoJa Band – Cold Winds (1977)

frontcover1The JoJa Band’s roots stem from two earlier groups:  The Easywalkers and JoJo.  The Easywalkers grew out of informal jam sessions held during 1972 in the basement of Savannah’s downtown YWCA.  John Clark (bass), Steffens Clark (guitar), Bobby Hanson (harp and vocals), Jesse Jordan (drums and vocals), Jimmy Maddox (keyboards, sax, and vocals), and Gene Weatherford (guitar and vocals) participated in these sessions.  After Steffens had moved to Atlanta for a brief period, the others moved to a farmhouse in Register, Georgia to rehearse and write original material.  With the addition of Michael Amburgey on guitar, the Easywalkers moved back to Savannah and became the house band at the Hershey Bar on Congress Street, where they played a combination of R & B covers mixed with original songs.  Many of the songs written by Bobby and Jimmy during the Easywalkers days would become material for future JoJa Band recordings.

The first incarnation of JoJo was formed in 1973 by Steffens, Danny Branson (bass and vocals), Danny Williby (drums), and Chuck Womble (keyboard). Under various band names, Steffens and the two Dannys performed together for some time, both on their own and as a backup group for other artists, most notably for Sam “The Sham” Samudio.  When singer Howard Jobe joined in 1974, the band re-named itself JoJo, at the insistence of legendary booking agent Don James.  (JoJo was Howard’s nickname, and Don correctly believed that club owners already familiar with Howard’s work would be interested in booking the group immediately.)  In various forms, this band toured the eastern U. S. for several years, playing mostly their own arrangements of rock, R & B, roots and pop music covers.  After Chuck left to return to college, several other keyboard players filled in with the group until Jimmy Maddox joined in 1975.

After nearly two years of touring, the band returned to Savannah for a break. By the time they hit the road again a few months later, Danny Branson was unavailable, and Phil Alaimo took over on bass.  Varying versions exist of exactly how and when the band name morphed into JoJa from JoJo, but by 1976 the band was working under the new name.  Phil retired from the road a few months after joining, and Danny Branson became the group’s bassist again.

In 1977, the band returned to Savannah, and, with the addition of Bobby Hanson, recorded their first album, Cold Winds.  The recording lineup included Danny Branson, Steffens Clark, Bobby Hanson, Howard Jobe, Jimmy Maddox, and Danny Williby; many people consider this to be the “original JoJa Band.”  Recorded at Rocky Evans’ Ragdoll Studios on a shoestring budget, the album solidified the group’s regional following but got little distribution or airplay.  Talks with Capricorn Records proved useless when the label faltered shortly after the Cold Winds recording sessions. (by http://www.jojaband.com )

“We were the thinking man’s southern rock band,” Jimmy Massix recalls. Mixing lush ballads and jazz rhythms with lowdown blues and country harmonies, this effort culminated in two critically acclaimed albums” (by http://jimmymaddox.com)

Listen to this very rare piece of a more or less unknown southern rock band !

jojabandPersonnel:
Danny Branson (bass)
Steffens Clark (guitar)
Bobby Hanson (harmonica, backbround vocals, vocals on 07.)
Howard Jobe (vocals)
Jimi Maddox (keyboards, saxophone, strings, background vocals)
Danny Williby (drums, percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. Savannah Mama (Maddox) 4.52
02. I Don’t Know (Maddox)  5.47
03. Better Days (Jobe/Branson) 3.54
04. Keep On Movin’  3.46 (Maddox/Branson)
05. Sooner Or Later (Maddox) 3.32
06. My Whiskey & My Blues (Maddox/Branson)  5.29
07. Georgia Rag (Maddox) 2.38
08. Cold Winds (Maddox) 9.44

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