Most blues fans today probably gravitated to the blues via listening to what is called Roadhouse music. It's been around a long time, but today's music is continually categorized and compartmentalized to within an inch of its life. Most of us grew up calling it rock or maybe blues-rock, but it's actually a combination of several genres......blues, country, R&B, zydeco, Cajun, and soul music, played with a southern, Gulf Coast flair. It's one of those things that most of us immediately recognize when we hear it, but we may not know, or even care, what's called. It's just good music. Some of the purveyors of roadhouse music would be Delbert McClinton, Marcia Ball, Sonny Landreth, Lee Roy and Rob Roy Parnell, Ronnie Hawkins, Jerry LaCroix, G.G. Shinn, etc......, and the subject of this week's post, Brian Langlinais.
Langlinais was born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana, where he grew up around music, the Roadhouse variety. His dad played sax in the legendary Louisiana band, The Shondells, and he grew up playing in bands that covered soul and blues standards. He headed up to Nashville and released a couple of Americana albums, but his latest release, Right Hand Road (Patoutville Records), was recorded in his hometown, sort of the result of a happy accident where the singer/guitarist made the best of a bad situation.....and how!! The entire disc is a blast, with some well-chosen, creatively remodeled covers and a fantastic set of original tunes more or less written on the fly. It's one of the best releases I've heard so far this year.
Mr. Langlinais was kind enough to sit down for Ten Questions with FBF and we are grateful for his time and consideration. Please check him out below and visit his website if you want to hear more. I'm pretty sure that you will.
Ten Questions With......Brian Langlinais
Friday Blues Fix: Your dad played sax with The Shondells in the 60’s……what is it like to grow up in a musical family? Was he an influence in your ending up a musician, or do you think you would have done so anyway?
Brian Langlinais: You know it probably wasn’t as big a deal as you might think because we were all young and I think it was more like he had a second job. But we did listen to a lot of music and that was a HUGE influence.
What kinds of music did you grow up listening to?
Totally 60’s Top 40 pop radio. But in Lafayette that also included local swamp pop, Cajun and Zydeco bands as well.
Who were some of your favorites?
If it was on the radio or Dick Clark I was listening to it.
Did you start out liking the blues, or did you gravitate to the blues from another direction? Who were some of your favorites when you started listening?
Growing up in Lafayette and being exposed to all the amazing music of South Louisiana definitely had an impact on my love for blues based roots music and since I can’t remember a time when it all clicked I guess I’ll say I started out liking it. LOL But I do remember diving deep into the entire Bobby Bland and Stax catalogs in my early twenties. Favorites? Bobby Bland and Delbert McClinton are still at the top of the list, but the music scene in Lafayette is a small pond with some mighty big fish and the “local” guys are international stars. Of them my favorites were Jerry LaCroix, GG Shinn, Warren Storm, Clifton Chenier, Buckwheat, Rockin' Dopsie, Zachary Richard, Sonny Landreth and the list goes on.
Your music is defined as “Roadhouse Blues,” and blends the blues with rock & roll, R&B, country, soul, and even zydeco…..which musicians in each genre influenced, or continue to influence you, as a songwriter, guitarist, and singer?
There’s a long list of performers that cover all those bases but I have to say Delbert McClinton has probably been the most influential. The circle of writers and players that have been with him thru time are the benchmark of what Roadhouse is to me.
Right Hand Road is one of my favorite releases so far in 2016. You cover a lot of ground with your original songs and came up with them pretty fast during the session. Can you tell us about how you came to create some of them…..were they some that had been stuck in your head or did you just come up with them on the fly?
Thanks that’s very kind of you to say. We originally had planned on only being in Lafayette for a day. D.L.’s (D.L. Duncan – producer) idea was to go down and do three or four covers (“Green Grass”, “Everyday” and “Whiskey”, “Don’t Go No Further”) to see how it felt being back home. Easy and fun. While we were there an ice storm hit Nashville leaving Patterson (Barrett), Ron (Eoff) and me stuck in Lafayette to wait it out. D.L. had that week booked with Tony (Daigle – engineer) to finish another project they were working on but was able to rework his schedule to give us a couple more days… so we decided to keep going. The only problem was we didn’t have songs. D.L. is a writer’s writer and is always jotting things down and taking notes. He and I would talk about a groove that we thought we might try, he would pull up a sketch of a lyric and we would roll from there. The four co-writes that we cut in the Electric Comoland sessions (“Right Hand Road”, “My One Desire”, “Our Love is Slipping Away”, “Louisiana Love”) were all done that way.
Once we were back to Nashville and had a little time to listen to what we had from Tony’s, D.L. and I decided that we needed a few more up tempo rockers (“You Can’t Say I Didn’t Love You” and “Tucumcari Tonight”) to round out the CD. He did all the heavy lifting on those two and had them just about finished when we went to the Dog House here in Nashville to track.
You’re based in Nashville, but made the trip home to Lafayette to record Right Hand Road, bringing some of your fellow Nashville artists down for the session…..were you looking for something in particular by doing this, or did it just all fall into place?
I was looking for something in particular for sure. I’m extremely proud of the music I’ve made over the last decade but after we released Tonight I Might I started feeling like something was missing. When my time with the Mystiqueros ended I knew I needed a new CD to get my solo thing back on track but I also knew I owed it to myself to take some time to figure out what the missing “IT” was before I did. My wife suggested I think back to when I had the most fun musically, try to identify what was so good about that time and then work from there. For me it was when I was working in Lafayette. But I wasn’t sure if it was the music, the musicians or the city itself I just knew I needed to go there to find out. That’s what I mean when I say that D.L. and I wanted to go down to see how it felt to record there.
From the moment we got to Tony’s it felt right. Safe and familiar. Being back home, talking about the music and food we all love made it so much easier to communicate ideas to each other. And I think that shows up in the nuances that make songs like “Green Grass” or “Whiskey” work they way they do. I guess in hindsight the ‘IT” that was missing, and this is totally on me, was my ability to get my musical ideas across to the musicians that I was working with. It’s no secret that we Cajuns have a different way of talking. LOL! Being able to use common references like names, places, foods, players, sounds, etc., to describe ideas all led to being able to be more accurate in what ended up on the final records.
I really liked your choices in cover tunes….. Your take on “Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You,” reworking it into a Cajun-style tune, is really inspired. Is this something that you always try to do with cover tunes, reinterpret them into something a bit different than the original? What do you look for in a cover tune?
Thanks…”Green Grass” is a song that gets covered a LOT by Zydeco bands but we wanted to try a little different take on it. Thanks to Ron and Bryan (Brignac) I think the groove is unique but still pays homage to both Wilson Pickett’s and the zydeco versions. And to me that’s one of the most important things I look for in choosing a cover. Being able to respect the original while still making it my own. When I’m looking for new songs to cover I keep a couple/ three things in mind. One… do I sound good singing it and does it make sense for me to cover it subject wise. Two… how will the group of musicians that will be on the gig or session interpret it and create a new version of it. And three… can we ultimately do one and two and still respect the original.
Right now we’re just trying to get back out on the road and play for as many people as we can. As for future projects …. If we can record the next CD in the same manner as Right Hand Road I’m ready to start that today.
What do you listen to in your spare time?
Oh man… I’m really guilty of getting stuck in ruts when it comes to my play list. I have a musical crush on Danielle Nicole and Janiva Magness so they’re both in heavy rotation. Bonnie Bishop is a dear friend and I’m addicted to her newest. After that the list is pretty long. Just about anything from Louisiana, Delbert, Bobby Bland, Curtis Salgado, Lloyd Jones just to name a few. I’ve been digging into Lou Rawls’ and William Bell’s catalog lately as well.
If you weren’t a musician, what do you think you would be doing?