Jimi Fiano – Sweat And Pray
Self Released

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2024

I have been a friend and fan of Jimi Fiano for as long as I can remember now. I believe the first time I ever saw him play was back in the early eighties. I had just moved to Florida, and while searching for local blues bands I discovered Kilmo And The Killers – with whom Jimi played guitar…..and man could he play the hell out of the blues. That said, I believe Jimi would be the first to agree with me when I say he’s not a bluesman. Being someone who is masterful at pretty much any genre he chooses to play, the lids need to be left off the many boxes he fits in.

Sweat And Pray is Jimi’s first release, and it contains three originals with two covers that I promise you’ve never heard done this way. For the project, Jimi – on guitar and lead vocals – is joined by: Steve Argy and John O’Brien on bass; Euvoski “Muff” Cunningham and Guido Marciano on drums; and Shaun Murphy – yeah, that Shaun Murphy – on background vocals.

The disc’s opening track, an original titled “Talkin’ Blues”, is a tongue-in-cheek (or at least I hope it is) comparison as to how some of today’s real young blues players have paid their dues vs what some of the more seasoned veterans have been though. As Jimi tells it, if being sent to your room; not being given your allowance; stressing over how many likes your posts on Twitter or Instagram are getting; and being slapped a little too hard by your mama are the only blues you’ve had to deal with; that’s just not cutting it, kid. On the other hand, when you’ve: had no place to stay at night; done things that in some states may cause you to swing from a rope, if caught; had to run from the cops; and getting your heart broken by a woman who now calls your best friend “Honey”; that’s when you’ve suffered enough to sing the blues. Musically, with Steve and “Muff” fueling the fire with a thunderous rhythm, and Jimi – fiercely pickin’ and strummin’ a Dobro then raising all hell on electric slide – it’s a totally relentless smoker.

The title track – Sweat And Pray – is typical Jimi Fiano fare, hard core blues lyrics with hard rockin’ instrumentation. It seems with never having enough money to keep his landlord off his back; and struggling to have enough gas in his car to get to work, only to be told by his boss that he’s a jerk; all Jimi ever does is sweat and pray his life away. Instrumentally, I don’t think it’s possible to get much more smokin’ than this. “Muff” and Steve are pretty much defining the term ‘frantic rhythm pace’ on the drums and bass, while Jimi is validating my “he’s not a bluesman” comment and totally rockin’ out on the guitar. Vocally, with a fabulous falsetto performance on the chorus line, Shaun Murphy creates a perfect contrast to Jimi’s gravely and growling baritone vocal runs.

Jimi very appropriately subtitled his interpretation of “Hey Joe” (Billy Roberts)”Hey Joe (Not Your Father’s Hey Joe)”. With it being a song made famous by perhaps one of the most idolized guitarists of all time – Jimi Hendrix – ya gotta know what you’re in for here…. and trust me, you will not be disappointed. Besides putting on one of his best vocal performances on the disc, for eight-and-a-half minutes, Jimi Fiano is going to razzle and dazzle you with a mind blowing, masterful guitar performance; have you asking yourself “Why have I never heard of this monster before?”; and validating what I said when I first saw him back in the day…”Man, could he play the hell out of the blues”.

“As The Years Go Passing By” (Peppermint Harris) – which was recorded live at Margaritaville in Hollywood, FL – is one of my all-time favorite blues songs, and from the number of artists who have covered it – I obviously have a lot of company on that thought. A few of my favorite versions were Fenton Robertson’s – who the song was actually written for back in 1959, Albert King’s, and of course, Gary Moore’s…..BTW, I just got back from YouTube where I just re-listened to all three of those – wow, wow and wow!…..All that said, let me now tell you about Jimi Fiano’s rendition – which also merits a wow! The track is eight-and-a-half minutes of him racing his fingers up and down his ax; bending the hell out of its strings; laying down long and scorching runs; and singing the hell out of the blues. Being the traditionalist that I am, this is hands down the disc’s best track. Additional kudos need to be given to John (bass) and Guido (drums) who – on their only performance on the disc – laid down the perfectly smooth rhythm that these slow blues songs call for.

Also on the disc, is another of Jimi’s originals titled “Strangled By The Hands of Time”.

To find out more about Jimi Fiano just go to his website – www.jimifiano.com – and if you haven’t yet received your copy of Sweat And Pray for airplay, please contact Jimi at – fianojames@yahoo.com. Of course, when you do so, please make sure you tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.

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