Singer Ron Cartel was born and raised by Italian parents in Harlem so it may not be that
big a surprise that he is a fine blues performer. He lived in Switzerland for 11 years and
has worked with the likes of Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Tower Of Power, legendary drummer
Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, experimental jazz guitarist Sonny Sharrock and Doctor John.
That last name is probably the inspiration behind the spooky-sounding opener, leading
into a strong programme of contemporary blues – lend an ear to his rendition of George
Jackson’s classic and not yet overused ‘Last Two Dollars’, the Magic Sam inflected
original ‘My World’, or the slightly jazz tinged slow blues ‘I Hurt Everybody’. The title
track has a skipping country-pop feel, but Ron can also tackle Blind Willie Johnson’s ‘God
Moves On The Water’ very convincingly, whilst ‘Last Shirt’ has a church wrecking gospel
Two fine live bonus tracks are included – ‘Walking The Dog’ and Muddy Waters’ ‘She’s
Nineteen Years Old’. Ron has drafted in a lot of musicians to ensure each track gets the
right feel and individual attention – names I recognised include the aforementioned
Pretty Purdie, former Robert Cray bass player Richard Cousins, New York’s Danny
Dreher, and Tom “Bones” Malone. A lot of care has gone into this release and it certainly
repays that effort.

“It’s not who you know, it’s who you stay away from!”

On his first solo album Ron Cartel brings the 'Blues Boulevard Records' label, mostly original songs and an additional single studio / Live in NYC bonus tracks. Ron brings a mix of roots, soul, gospel and blues. The line-up is an exceptionally long series of twenty-two (great) musicians and no less than four different backings. The album opens with "Mojo Intro" for the actual "House Of Mojo" track, which runs from sultry slide guitar grooves. In the intro you hear some whispers (or call it what mumbling?) Cartel itself and much voodoo. Followed by Latin rhythms and percussion, complemented by piano, organ, and the grooves of the horn ... Or, if we are to use the words of Cartel:! "Welcome to the House of Mojo" "Last Two Dollars" is a quiet R & B and a very attractive number of R & B singer-songwriter George Henry Jackson. The three female backing singers, filling the charming melody here and make the song offs. Steve Tarshis, a guitarist from NY, wrote "Bluesville", a song with "blues man" Cartel, which allows the listener to hear that Ron a very talented singer. More blues we get "God Moves On The Water" , a song by Blind Willie Johnson, which shines by its simplicity and purity. "My World" is an autobiographical track with Ron's story about his world, where he wants to go and even want to fight. The arrangements are clever and especially the wah wah guitar Duncan James, who along with the blowers, introduces very handsome accents. Top track! Many tears, goose bumps and cracks in "I Heart Everybody" , with the alto sax Dave Feusi and Ken Levinsky on piano, who mourn them ... The title song "Do not Make The Monkey Drunk" is a song, which mainly is the (unique) songwriting. Cartel makes very clever comparisons and ironic jokes, but remains itself and especially very cool ... "Monkeys sitting in a Mercedes, you got the grease, so he got the lease ..." "Last Shirt" , a lively gospel with ditto clapping, the almost last regular track for the bonus tracks. "Put The Shovel In The Ground" is a studio bonus track, followed by two additional 'Live in NYC' tracks, which covers from Rufus Thomas and Muddy Waters. Album tracks: 1 "House Of Mojo Intro" - 2 "House Of Mojo" - 3 "Last Two Dollars" [George Jackson] - 4 "Bluesville" [Steve Tarshis] - 5 "God Moves On The Water" [Blind Willie Johnson ] - 6 "Chazz Is Dead" [Chuck Feravola] - 7 "My World" - 8 "I Hurt Everybody" - 9 "Sing & Shout" - 10 "Do not Make The Monkey Drunk" - 11 "All My Angels" - 12 "Last Shirt" - 13 "Outro" - Studio Bonus track: 14 "Shovel In The Ground" - Bonus tracks: Live in NYC: 15 "Walking The Dog" [Rufus Thomas] - 16 "She's Nineteen Years Old " [McKinley Morganfield, aka Muddy Waters].

Ron Cartel is a star cook. He serves us with his debut "Do not Make The Monkey Drunk" a very digestible blend of blues, with generous extras mojo roots, R & B, passion and deep dark soul. Everything tastes very intense, the occupation is taken care down to the small details and the backings are sweeter than sweets. For me, this album is definitely worth four stars! Therefore, as I do, "Get the Mojo! ..." ~ by: Eric Schuurmans

Blues News:
Don’t Make The Monkey Drunk
(Blues Boulevard, 69:47)

Erst im bereits deutlich fortgeschrittenen Mannesalter
machte sich der gebürtige New Yorker an sein spätes
Solodebut und vielleicht ist es gerade diesem Umstand
geschuldet, dass dabei gleich ein aufs Feinste
groovendes kleines Meisterwerk herausgekommen ist,
dessen sattes Soundkostüm bei der Mehrzahl der Tracks
noch durch den Einsatz diverser Bläser und Backing-
Vokalist(inn)en aufgepeppt wird. Begleitet wurde der
Sänger, Songschreiber und gelegentIiche Handclap-
Perkussionist im Studio von einer entsprechenden
Anzahl erstklassiger Musiker/-innen. Darunter
Fankhauser-Keyboarder Hendrix Ackle und Cray-
Bassmann Richard Cousins, und ähnlich wie bei deren
etatmässigen Bandleadern ist auch Ron Cartels
musikalischer Ansatz im Spannungsfeld von urbanem
Blues, R&B und Soul zu verorten. Als eine Art
Kontrastprogramm gibt es mit den beiden ebenso wie
auch die meisten übrigen Titel aus eigener Feder
stammenden, mit Voodoo-Mythen spielenden Miniaturen
am Anfang und Ende der regulären Tracklist sowie dem
Blind Willie Johnson zugeschriebenen Klassiker "God
Moves On The Water" zudem drei nicht minder
überzeugende Slide-betonte Akustiknummern. Besser
weglassen sollen hätte man allerdings vielleicht die
beiden mit einer anderen Begleitmannschaft in New York
eingespielten Live-Bonustracks, die gegenüber dem
Studiomaterial doch etwas abfallen, was dem äußerst
positiven Gesamteindruck jedoch letztlich keinerlei
Abbruch zu tun vermag. (ms)

Bluestime Italy:

Ron Cartel. "Dont make the monkey drunk"
Blues Boulevard
Una piacevole scoperta, la nuova proposta di Blues Boulevard; Ron Cartel è cantante ricco di soul
e di una vocalità penetrante ma mai scomposta; di origini italiane, nato negli
States e catapultato nel circuito che conta, quello dei vari Bernard Purdie,
Steve Gadd, Dr. John, Matt Guitar Murphy, in costante bilico tra New York
City, NOLA e Los Angeles, dopo 4 decadi di copioso vagabondare Cartel si
stabilisce in Svizzera dove insieme agli House of Mojo, diventa il Johnny
Adams elvetico. Una produzione - Don't make the Monkey Drunk - che
cattura l'ascolto, senza trucchi ma utilizzando la forza della musica e del soul che questo artista
elargisce con grnde generosità;God Moves on the Water con la slide maligna a recitare atmosfere
di McDowell memoria, o ancora Chazz is Dead che fà il verso a Dr. John. Uno dei migliori ascolti
Gianandrea Pasquinelli

Distrito Jazz, Spain:
Escuchar este disco y rendirse ante él es todo uno. Grabado tanto en estudio como en vivo, las
dieciséis canciones que componen este ‘Don’t make the monkey drunk’ (Blues Boulevard
Records) no desmerecen su presencia.
Pero por partes. Ron Cartel es un cantante americano que en la actualidad reside en Suiza, y que
tiene tras de sí una larga carrera como cantante y corista masculino en las bandas de Steve Gadd,
Dr, John, Matt Guitar Murphy, The Tower of Power o The Blues Brothers Band. O sea, que algo
sabe del asunto que se trae entre manos.
Aunque Cartel se mueve sobre todo en el blues, también le hace guiños al jazz, al soul, la música
de Nueva Orleans, e incluso al gospel. Y es que este hombre vive intensamente las músicas de
raíz americana.
A la bondad de este disco colabora en gran medida la enorme y poderosa banda que le
acompaña, arropa, da suntuosidad y brillo. La sección de vientos se nota pero en modo alguno
tapa al cantante, mientras que las coristas redondean la voz del cantante. Un perfecto ejemplo de
todo ello es ‘Last two dollars’, que si hubiera decencia musical en este país sería un
Y poco más se puede decir de este sobresaliente disco, pues lo que hay que hacer con él
es disfrutarlo. Merece, y mucho, la pena.

More opinions:
“Seriously Good”
Nick Dow, BBC Radio „Bluenotes UK

“Delivers the Blues with a generous mixture of passion & soul”
Mark Stenzler, The Blues Zeppelin: Radio RaBe, Switzerland

“Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant!”
Reed & March, Soulscope: Northside FM Radio, Australia

“Completely unique, wonderful & imaginative, much more than just the Blues, Ron Cartel
actually does what so many artists try to do today”
Sports Bar Bubba, iTunes Store, USA

“Funky, Swinging & Delicious, sit back and let him come and get you!”
Frank Van Engelin: Blues Magazine, Netherlands

“Well presented, tasteful and extremely musical”
A.J: The Hub, UK

“High class Blues”
Brian Heywood, The Scene: News Gazzette , UK

Rick Lacey, BBC Radio: Bluenotes, UK