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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Jo Ja Band 1977 Cold Winds

Genre: Southern Rock
Rate: 320 kbps CBR / 44100
Time: 00:40:08
Size: 91,79 MB

United States


"The hottest band in town." "Big fish in a little pond." "Savannah originals." Such descriptions were often used when people discussed the JoJa Band. Eight years of performances, two albums, and many, many lasting friendships, among band members and fans alike, are their priceless legacy. Following is a history of the friends and significant events that are the JoJa Band.

The 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.

From 1977 through 1979, the JoJa Band built its reputation as the hottest original music band in the region, but because of family and personal commitments, they were unable to tour in support of their recordings. Nonetheless, they drew standing-room-only crowds in Savannah clubs such as Beyond Duplication (later called The Roadhouse) and River Street's Port 'O Call, and they performed as the opening act or as headliners at concerts in the coastal region. A testament to the group's drawing power is the fact that they became the Port 'O Call's house band and played original music to packed houses five nights a week. Original bands today are lucky to even be booked more than two nights in a row at a single location. More importantly, few bands are so fortunate as to have the large number of enthusiastic and loyal fans who became close friends, and whose friendship has endured for thirty years. To this day, fans still trade CD burns and bootlegs (such as the live recording known to many as "Warts and All "); several fans have even produced and traded CDs complete with album graphics and liner notes.

By the time the JoJa Band recorded their second album, City Lights (1979), tragedy had struck three times. Road crew member Terry Polston drowned shortly before recording sessions for the first album began, Danny Williby became gravely ill with a malady which eventually proved fatal, and Danny's cousin Michael Williby, who had assumed the drumming role, died in an automobile accident several months after joining the band. Thus, Freddie Stringer became the band's third drummer, and, by the time the City Lights sessions began, Danny Branson had left once again, replaced this time by John Tiedemann on bass.

Steffens left the band at the end of 1979, and was replaced first by guitarist Ron Ray, and later by Donny Geddes. The JoJa Band eventually did go on the road again in 1980, but they were never able to drum up distribution or support for their two albums. John also left the band in 1980, and Danny Branson returned for his third stint as bassist. In 1981, the JoJa Band played its final gig, save for a few partial reunions some years later. After the band dissolved, most of the members continued to work as professional musicians, but the original lineup never performed together again.

Howard Jobe passed away in 2002, and it was at his funeral that the remaining original members first considered the possibility of a reunion. The idea was spearheaded to reality by singer-songwriter-guitarist Chief (Dennis Hinely), a long-time friend and admirer of the band. Largely due to Chief's efforts, the reunion concert of 2003 came to fruition. As a result of the reunion plans, the two JoJa Band albums have been re-mastered and compiled into a CD release entitled Sooner or Later: The Ragdoll Recordings.

There are rumors of new songs, new recordings, future shows and a myriad of other possibilities. But for now, nothing concerning the JoJa Band's future is certain save two undeniable facts: their friendships endure, and, whenever these guys play music together on stage in front of a crowd, the JoJa Band is still the hottest band in town. (


01 - Savannah Mama 04:57

02 - I Don't Know 05:51

03 - Better Days 03:55

04 - Keep On Movin' 03:50

05 - Sooner Or Later 03:33

06 - My Whiskey & My Blues 05:32

07 - Georgia Rag 02:43

08 - Cold Winds 09:47

Jo Ja Band here:

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Luc said...

A CD was released (2003) :"Sooner Or Later" with bonus tracks.

Savannah Mama
Sooner Or Later
Better Days
Keep On Movin
My Whiskey And My Blues
Georgia Rag
Cold Winds
When The City Comes Alive
Dark Is The Night
Lonely Woman
Cockroach Blues
Anybody Can Love That Way
Five After Two
City Lights Serenade

SouthernBluesRock said...

Hi Luc,

the bonus tracks are from their second album "City Lights"! If anyone had a link for this one ...?!

elvis70 said...

Thank you!!

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