Papa Joe Grappa
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Papa Joe Grappa

Band Blues Rock


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"Blues Review (Oct/Nov 2005)"

“Too White to Sing the Blues is a refreshingly unserious collection of humorous blues – not a song here has to do with poverty, cheating, alcohol, or any other standard subject. Papa Joe Grappa is an LA-based songwriter whose humor hits the mark whether his target is SUVs, aging, church sex scandals, plastic surgery culture, medical marijuana, Mary Kay Letourneau or whites singing the blues. With an accomplished band and tasty guitar, Grappa delivers his pointed messages well.” - Tom Hyslop


When I was a kid, it was Homer and Jethro in country music. Later, in my teens, it was Ray Stevens in pop music. Then, when my children were in high school, it was Weird Al in rock music. These were all talented musicians who would trod the somewhat seldom traveled path of comic music. While there have always been artists who combined both comedy and music, few have ever reached the level of notoriety of the aforementioned acts.

And, since we blues/rock fans can also possess a somewhat twisted sense of humor, enter for our listening pleasure the Los Angeles based blues/rock guitarist Papa Joe Grappa. Grappa is the alter ego of Joe Medeiros, a comedy writer by day-blues/rock guitarist by night. He combines both these considerable talents in creating
his debut release “Too White to Sing the Blues”. The 13 tracks are all Papa Joe originals, his observations of everyday life (what could be funnier than this?) in which he addresses such relevant social issues as plastic surgery produced women, medical marijuana, 21st century teachers’ “pets”, and the misery associated with serving on jury duty among others. However, to insure that this recording is not only funny but also a very credible musical work, Papa Joe has enlisted the aid of some world class musicians. While Papa Joe demonstrates on the recording that he is a serious (and seriously good) guitarist, his choice of band mates on this project is brilliant. As Weird Al depended heavily upon the musical genius of Rick Derringer in his work, Papa Joe likewise calls upon the incredible talents of blues rock artist/producer/sound engineer Alan Mirikitani (BB Chung King and the Buddaheads) for this project. For a rhythm section, Papa Joe would recruit a national treasure and perhaps my personal favorite bassist Gerald Johnson (Steve Miller Band and others) and a most impressive Gary Mallaber (Van Morrison, Steve Miller, Bruce Springsteen) on drums. The keyboard and horn duties are in no less capable hands, as veteran Marty Grebb (Buckinghams and others) handles those roles most admirably. Now for the backup singers, let’s add to the mix the Sweet Inspirations, who from 1968 until 1977 sang behind Elvis. Suffice it to say that all things considered, this is a most ambitious debut recording.

The recording is both funny lyrically and enjoyable musically as well, a feat that is in of itself quite remarkable. The material here is wide in scope, combining elements ranging from blues, cool jazz, 50s rock, and boogie woogie. No matter the style, each track is a high quality recording. I have a lot of favorites on this set, including “Why Didn’t My Teacher Do Me”, “Medical Marijuana” where once again Gerald Johnson displays just how a professional bassist should sound, “Too White to Sing the Blues”, showcasing Papa Joe’s outstanding guitar skills and featuring lyrics in which he laments “my first name ain’t Muddy, my last name ain’t King”, with perhaps my favorite track being the Chuck Berry flavored “Damn Big SUV” in which Joe complains of monster SUVs and trucks, both of which obstruct your view while driving. I have found myself singing this daily on my commute home on the Nashville interstate highway system.

There are also a couple of songs intended to be more serious than the others, "She's Beautiful and She Don't Care", written for Papa Joe's daughter's 16th birthday and "Start Again", a very jazz flavored tune in which Papa Joe recounts his first sighting of the lady who would later become his wife. These too are of excellent quality, and they serve as evidence that Papa Joe is also genuinely a nice person as well as being a talented musician and writer.

It’s all good, cleverly written and splendidly performed by everyone involved and has earned the Bluesrockers “buy this unless you are completely anal” seal of approval. The CD is available from numerous online suppliers including or by visiting Papa Joe online at
- Tom Branson

"Gut Busting Blues"

If you put the essence of the past year or so’s worth of Jay Leno’s monologues to jazz flavoured blues music, the result would be Papa Joe Grappa’s new CD, Too White to Sing the Blues. It is no surprise since Papa Joe, whose real name is Joe Medeiros, is the head writer for Leno during the day. The result is a CD of Joe’s understated guitar played with jazzy undertones and topical lyrics exploring the joys of modern living fraught with SUV’s, plastic surgery, teacher-student relations, priest/alter boy relations, legalized pot, jury duty and Starbucks while the title track brilliantly skewers white bluesmen. You Get Old If You’re Lucky is a witty ode to aging. If you aren’t politically correct, you will not only bust a gut laughing, but be impressed with the quality of musicianship behind the music. Papa Joe Grappa is pure fun for the twisted mind. - Richard Amery Kenora Daily Miner and News


CD- Too White to Sing the Blues

Manmade Woman
Too White to Sing the Blues
Why Didn't My Teacher Do Me?
Jury Duty
Medcial Marijuana
Altar Boy Blues
(You Get) Old If You're Lucky
Damn Big SUV
Married Man Blues
Bedbug Boogie
She's Beautiful and She Don't Care
Start Again
Them Starbucks Blues

Cuts from this CD have been played on Sirius Radio, Dr. Demento, plus stations across the US, Canada, France, Belgium and England.



Papa Joe Grappa (Joe Medeiros) is the head writer of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Having started playing guitar at the age of 13 when The Beatles came out, Joe continued playing professionally into his 20s. Then he got married, settled down and gave up music to begin a career as a writer in advertising. He took a correspondence course in joke writing and got good enough to get a job with Jay Leno in 1988. Moving to LA in 1992, Joe rediscovered music through the LA blues scene. He put his comedy writing skills plus his love of blues and rock to good use in making his debut CD "Too White to Sing the Blues," which features some of the best session players in LA.