Friday, November 26, 2010

New Blues For You - Louisiana Swamp Stomp

A few months ago, Friday Blues Fix discussed the great southern record label, Excello.  With it's great roster of stars (Slim Harpo, Lazy Lester, Lightnin' Slim, etc...) and the marriage of country and urban blues (with a shot of southern soul mixed for good measure), the label had a large following among many fans and future musicians.  Many contemporary musicians were influenced by the sounds of the swamp from the late 50's and 60's and the label has been missed greatly since its demise in the early 70's.    

Buddy Flett
Fans of the sound will be excited to hear about Louisiana Swamp Stomp, a collection that celebrates Louisiana's rich musical heritage.  The CD is part of a project designed to bring attention to a newly-created organization, the Northern Louisiana Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Foundation (NLBSCIF).  Louisiana guitarist Buddy Flett contracted encephalitis in 2008, which left him in a medically induced coma.  When Flett awoke, he had lost the ability to walk, talk, and play guitar.  Over time, he regained his strength and abilities (to the point where he was able to play guitar at his own benefit a few months later).  For those of you unfamiliar with Buddy Flett, check out the title track from his most recent solo CD release, Mississippi Sea

Proceeds from the sales of Louisiana Swamp Stomp will go to benefit the NLBSCIF for the purpose of funding neuroscience research in Louisiana.  For more information on the center and it's goals, you can visit their site here.  All of us know someone in our group of family and friends who have suffered a stroke and had difficulties recovering, so this is a cause that everyone can relate to.

Carol Fran
As for the disc itself, it consists mostly of Louisiana-born or based musicians doing what they do best.  In addition to Flett, who does a great acoustic, seemingly autobiographical track, "Livin' Ain't Easy," another pleasant surprise is the presence of Carol Fran.  Ms. Fran suffered a stroke in 2007, but has recovered sufficiently to resume her singing career.  On Louisiana Swamp Stomp, she shines on two performances, both remakes of songs that she previously recorded for Black Top Records in the early 90's with her late husband, guitarist Clarence Hollimon.  Accompanying her on these versions is singer/songwriter/piano man David Egan.  While Fran's voice is not as powerful as it was a few years ago, she still retains that sassy, playful quality.  The new versions of these older songs are slower and funkier, and better for it.

Speaking of David Egan, one of the many highlights of the disc is Percy Sledge's live version of a song written by Egan and Flett that Sledge originally recorded on his 1994 Blue Night disc.  Though Sledge is originally from Alabama, he's lived in Baton Rouge since the late 60's and this performance was recorded at a festival in Louisiana.  His track is deep Southern soul at its finest.  There's more deep soul contributed by Charlene Howard, who penned her own track, "Send Me Someone To Love."

Larry Garner
Larry Garner brought two brand new tracks to the proceedings.  "Ms. Boss" is a lighthearted effort that closes the disc, a fresh take on the "henpecked by the right hen" other words, Mr. Garner at his best.  However, "It's Killing Me," an intense look at a lost relationship, ranks up there with some of his finest work.  Garner brings a lot of fire and passion to the vocal on this track.  His backing band is top notch as well, with Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural on organ, Lee Allen Zeno on bass, Lil' Buck Sinegal on guitar, Gerard St. Julien on drums, and Lloyd Richard on piano.  Here's Garner performing an unplugged version of "Ms. Boss" for a French radio program.

Paul "Lil' Buck" Sinegal
Paul "Lil' Buck" Sinegal has been playing music for over fifty years, performing and recording with Clifton Chenier, Buckwheat Zydeco, Katie Webster, Henry Gray, Lazy Lester, and has appeared on hundreds of recordings since the 1950's.  In recent years, he has branched out on his own a bit, recording a couple of solo CDs.  He gets ample opportunity to shine on Louisiana Swamp Stomp, both as a frontman (Tampa Red's "Don't You Lie To Me") and with slide guitar phenom Sonny Landreth on the sizzling instrumental title track.

Other artists joining in the fun are New Orleans bluesman Little Freddie King, whose "Can't Do Nothing Babe," mixes the best of the Crescent City with the Mississippi Delta, 85-year-old Henry Gray (former piano man for Howlin' Wolf), who reprises a song he previously recorded in the late 50's ("How Could You Do It") and the timely "Times Are Getting Hard," and Dwayne Dopsie, son of the late Rockin' Dopsie, who performs the outstanding Zydeco track, "Traveling Man," with his band, the Zydeco Hellraisers.

Chicago resident and harmonica player Omar Coleman also chips in, with help from Billy Flynn on guitar, Kenny "Beedy Eyes" Smith on drums, and Bob Stroger on bass.  The Windy City quartet tears through Slim Harpo's standard, "Scratch My Back," and Lightnin' Hopkins' "Mojo Hand," like they've been in Louisiana all their lives.  Kenny Smith also served as co-producer for the disc, along with Dr. Paul McCarthy, founder of the NLBSCIF. 

The foundation held a fundraiser last Friday (November 19) in Shreveport, LA, with Flett, Egan, Fran, and Lee Allen Zeno appearing, and took in about $13,000.  Be on the lookout for another fundraising event in 2011.

Carol Fran and David Egan perform at the Nov. 19 NLBSCIF Fundraiser in Shreveport
Louisiana Swamp Stomp is a fantastic way to contribute to a worthy you get to take in some great music in the process.  For more information about this cause, visit the foundation's site at


Anonymous said...

Great write-up on project. The Great Percy Sledge has lived in Baton Rouge Louisiana since 1968...

Graham said...

Noted and corrected.....thank you for letting me know. I love that song!