Tiny Wibaux, population 461, boasts a brewery, a concert theatre, and a rockin’ band, and here’s their first CD. Mighty Big Jim is led by Jim Devine (and yes, he’s a big fella) on lead vocals and rhythm guitar; he’s joined by Casey Malkuch, lead guitar, mandolin and vocals; Jayson Eslick, drums and vocals; Jon Redlin, bass; and Katelynne Eslick, vocals. Jamie Sharples guests on organ and keys, and Randy Leago adds saxophone.
The purveyors of “good time” music power through 11 Americana originals on their debut album, written mostly by Devine and his writing partner, Charlie Denison of Lewistown. Devine also opened Wibaux’s Beaver Creek Brewery in 2008, and was head brewer there for a while. He renovated the next-door historic Gem Theatre with his business partner, and that’s where the band plays.
This album was recorded there; it’s replete with ballads, rockers and country dancers.
Devine, who has traveled to Nashville a couple times a year to write, also has a fondness for “The Big Easy.” “Down the Riverwalk” is a romantic and delicate love song that takes place in New Orleans. Katelynne Eslick sings high harmony to complement Devine’s pleasing baritone on the slow dancer; sweet saxophone permeates the tune.
“Henry” is a half-serious story; Malkuch and Katelynne Eslick’s husband Jayson helped pen this one. Devine says it stems from hearing things late at night after partying, perhaps from an unseen entity. It’s kind of a rocker with fuzzed-up guitar; Katelynne sings in high unison.
“Memphis,” by Devine and Malkuch, is a mid-tempo rocker that shows unabashed love for the city, the birthplace of so many American musical styles. Elvis, legendary producer Sam Phillips and Sun Records, country rhythm and blues, it’s all here in one song, accompanied by cool guitar riffs. MBJ has more to offer; have a listen.
– Mariss McTucker