Author Archives: Jeff Hannusch

Various Artists, Boppin’ by the Bayou: Made in the Shade (Ace)

The ninth, 28 track release in the “By the Bayou” series, Ace has once again assembled an impressive showcase of early Gulf Coast music. The majority of the rockin’ and rollin’ repertoire here was recorded at J. D. Miller’s Crowley studio. (To the unenlightened, J.D. Miller was the Bayou State’s equivalent of Memphis’ Sam Phillips) [...]

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Billy Boy Arnold, The Blues Soul of (Stony Plain)

The number of Chicago blues artists that were active in the ’50s, and that are still out there today, can be counted on one hand. Besides Billy Boy, off the top of my gray head, the only other one I can think of is Henry Gray. Arnold, a harmonica player by trade, made his mark [...]

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Rory Block, Hard Luck Blues: A tribute to Skip James (Stony Plain)

Someone please explain to me why, after all these years, Rory Block has never played the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival? Nobody recreates the traditional Mississippi Delta Blues better than this woman does. She’s a monster on the guitar (interestingly playing with the slide on her third finger and not her pinky) and sings [...]

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BackTalk: Maria Muldaur

Although she’s probably best known for the massive 1974 pop hit “Midnight at the Oasis,” Maria Muldaur is also a highly prolific and versatile recording artist. Over a career that currently spans 40 albums, she’s tackled folk, bluegrass, hard rock, soul, jazz, blues, country, gospel, show tunes and children’s music along the way. Born Maria [...]

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Various Artists, Cracking the Cosimo Code: ’60s New Orleans R&B and Soul (Ace)

Not the first CD inspired by a website, but Cracking the Cosimo Code is certainly the first one inspired by a website devoted to researching New Orleans R&B. (For more on the Cosimo Code, check Offbeat’s May 2013 issue or go to Cosimocode.com.) Obviously a tribute to the late architect of the New Orleans Sound [...]

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Rod Bernard & Clifton Chenier, Boogie in Black & White (Jin)

A reissue of a 1976 album, this is an unlikely collaboration between two legends of South Louisiana music. At the time, Rod Bernard’s swamp pop hit records (“This Should Go on Forever,” “Colinda”) had long been considered oldies and he was pursuing a career as a TV station ad rep. Chenier was then the “King [...]

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Obituary: Cosimo Matassa

Cosimo Matassa, the renowned recording engineer who from the late 1940s to the early 1970s engineered virtually every significant recording in New Orleans, died on September 11, 2014. He was 88. Matassa had been in failing health for several years and recently was living in a nursing home run by the Catholic diocese. “It’s no [...]

Various Artists, You Talk Too Much: The Ric & Ron Story, Vol. I (Ace)

With a formidable roster that included Professor Longhair, Johnny Adams, Irma Thomas, Chris Kenner, Robert Parker, Tommy Ridgley, Al Johnson and Eddie Bo, among others, the Ric and Ron labels were an important force in the New Orleans record business between 1958 and 1962. The festive Ric and Ron sound was unique, even when compared [...]

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Mud Morganfield & Kim Wilson, For Pops: A Tribute to Muddy Waters (Severn)

Mud Morganfield is the now-middle-age son of late blues icon Muddy Waters. Former turban-styling frontman of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Kim Wilson is considered one of premier blues-harmonica players on the planet. As the title indicates, together Wilson and Morganfield have recorded an impressive tribute to Waters. Surprisingly or not, on an initial listen, one can’t [...]

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Johnny J, Buster Brotherland (Tall Tale)

The first thing that will strike you when you pick this CD up is that the cover photo of our man appears to have been taken during Reagan’s first White House term. Maybe that’s because musically, Buster Brotherhood is what we’ve come to expect from Johnny J over the years—a confident, straight-forward, stripped-down (just guitar, [...]

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