Not every blues artist can create a cohesive sound in the genre by weaving in a diversity of other influences, but guitarist and vocalist JP Soars is obviously not just any blues artist. A 2009 winner of the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN with his band the Red Hots (and the festival's Albert King Award winner as best guitarist to boot), the Arkansas native toured extensively through the United States, Canada, South America and Europe with metal bands after relocating to South Florida, and is one of the few guitarists also capable of adding nuances of his long-standing, Django Reinhardt-inspired "Gypsy jazz" side project.
It all coalesces on Soars' upcoming fourth CD, Southbound I-95, recorded at the familiar Studio 13 in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Dotted with special guests, its sessions reveal hints of soul, R&B, surf, reggae, roots and country music on both Soars originals and a sprinkling of surprising covers — all of which enhance and modernize, rather than take away from, the disc's traditional blues undercurrent.
"I like T-Bone Walker, Wes Montgomery, Django Reinhardt, Pete Fountain, Louis Armstrong, Guitar Slim, Muddy Waters, and Howlin' Wolf," Soars says. "But at the same time, I also love Willie Nelson, George Jones, Tito Puente, Black Sabbath, and old Metallica. If it moves me, I dig it."