Not much thought goes into the music of local blues duo Junior Boogie and Jake Nielsen. That’s not to say that harmonica player and vocalist Jeremy “Junior Boogie” Heinemann and guitarist Jake Nielsen don’t care about their craft. It’s just that, as traditional bluesmen, they know the blues isn’t something you think about. “It’s something that I just feel,” Heinemann says. “It’s something I grew up feeling. To play the blues you have got to understand and live the blues.” Heinemann says his mother instilled him with a love for the blues at a young age—turning him on to artists like Muddy Waters and blues harp masters Little Walter and James Cotton. He picked up the harp at 15 and he hasn’t put it down since. Heinemann’s partner, Nielsen, has a similar tale. He first picked up a bass at age 13 and a guitar at 16, egged on by his uncles who all play. Nielsen, like Heinemann, also says that he is in love with the blues because of “the feel of it. When you hit the stage and play the blues it just feels so soulful.” Santa Cruzans can see just what he means when Junior Boogie and Jake Nielsen take the stage at Moe’s Alley on Tuesday. There, the duo will crisscross piping hot harp licks with strained, pentatonic guitar lamentations on original tunes like “I Have Been Drinking” and “That Lonely Road”—just two examples of the many tales of hard living and heartbreak the pair have up their sleeves. But sorrow is not constant for Junior Boogie and Jake Nielsen. “You can’t always let the blues bring you down,” Heinemann says. After all, he adds, feeling down is just a part of the human condition. “When you feel good, you feel good. When you feel bad, you feel bad.”
INFO: 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 31. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $5/adv, $7/door. 479-1854.