Around the time James Dalton recorded Smile Goodbye To The Kings & Clowns, he could be found somewhere on stage most every night along the Jersey Shore. One night he might be seen adding mandolin to the songs of Nicole Atkins, the next he might be jamming on harp with Matt Witte. Everybody knew him as JPAT back then, a young artist with an incredible voice and an unrelenting desire to play.
He was also becoming one hell of a blues singer and was about to prove it to the world.
Smile Goodbye To The Kings & Clowns was his first full-length album and was a true blues release. It was recorded, performed, and exhibited a sense of rawness that was always found in good blues. Dalton records these songs exactly the way they are played; there’s no studio enhancements here. What you see is what you get and what you get is Dalton strumming his guitar, blowing his harp, and howling in the way nobody in Jersey has ever howled since Southside Johnny first hit the scene. It’s a powerful collection of tunes highlighted by a couple of real gems.
Shortly after recording the album, Dalton hopped on a plane to China where he not only passed the time with a two-month residency at a Chinese bar, but performed on Chinese television in front of millions. While preparing for his trip, he was chosen as one of two artists to represent the Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Association at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. He wound up flying directly from China to Tennessee, literally hitchhiking across the world thanks to a voice that comes around once in a generation. With this release, Dalton finally began to trust that voice and let it lead him on the amazing ride it had planned for him all along.
Highlights include “The Dancer,” “Come Back To The Jersey Shore,” “Grafton Street,” “Make It Happen,” and “I Believe.”
From the book Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists
by Gary Wien