Portrait of the Man
It seems that every gigging musician eventually faces the same choice: to simply look for the next paycheck or leap headfirst into the wild unknown of creating something fresh and original. It's a subject that Kansas City singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joe Athon tackles with a funky sense of enthusiasm on his new solo release *Portrait Of The Man*. Athon's approach on *Portrait Of The Man* reveals a tip of the hat to his influences, from his Elvis Costello-styled vocals to his 70s-drenched horn arrangements. Yet while these echoes find their way into each cut, especially within the disc's shuffling title track "Portrait of the Man" and the funky bump of "Rosetta," Athon's intent is firmly placed on finding his own groove. There is an old adage that goes "tell me the company you keep and I'll tell you what you are." Capably back by a small army of Kansas City notables, including bassist Bill McKemy, guitarist Jake Blanton, vocalist Valerie Price and local trumpeter extraordinaire Stan Kessler among others, Athon is obviously a musician with more than just a casual connection to the scene. The effort of this handpicked who's who of Kansas City musicians really hits it's stride with the richly textured drive of "Do I Really Want To Be" and the lush tones of "Rainy Midnight Walk." *Portrait Of The Man* is a coming out party of sorts for Athon. Though a member of the scene since the late 1980s as a precocious teenager and aspiring musician, it's apparent that he has his sites set on much more than just the next gig. "Well I guess it don't matter much, you know it doesn't mean a thing," Athon joyously belts on *Portrait*'s third cut, "I'll keep on doing what we like; we got to keep on doing our own thing."