Joe Hall and the Louisiana Cane Cutters’ last album, 2009’s Live at Nunu’s, was a show of brute force as the band raged through an amped-up set of Creole-Cajun chestnuts. Hall doesn’t play quite the same hand this time but deals something closer to the heart: a tribute to grandfather “King” Ned. The hard-charging title track emanates from an untitled melody of Ned’s; the cover shot of the accordion and Dobb hat is symbolic of how the venerable accordionist often wore the stylish lid at gigs.
With Mitch Reed’s slippery, sublime Creole fiddling squealing across the high notes, the proceedings skew towards old-time Creole music. A few selections—such as “Carrière Brothers Breakdown” featuring Chas Justus’ tender, prancing acoustic guitar accompaniment—feel like an updated version of the first generation Lawtell Playboys. Hall supplements the antiquated ambience with various cultural artifacts such as syrup cakes (“Mas Pain Bruler”) and keeps the surprises rolling by unearthing such country crossover Creole chestnuts as Al Dexter’s “Pistol Packin’ Mama” and the Delmore Brothers’ “Blues Stay Away From Me” that’s rendered as one fat, lazy shuffle.
Hall is a powerful singer and accordionist, and even though the 11 cuts hail from two different studios and three tracks captured live, he makes it feel like a single session. Though Hall may be years away from becoming a cultural hall of famer, this recording, nonetheless, is a classic hallmark affair.