Author Archives: Jeff Hannusch

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 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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Bobby Rush with Blinddog Smokin’, Decisions (Silver Talon)

Always entertaining, Bobby Rush with this release (and other recent CDs) is becoming the new millennium’s soul philosopher. Perhaps odd that a veteran R&B artist would address the ills of society (Mavis and Pops Staple also did it in the ’70s) but I guess it’s gotta come from all corners before things start to change. [...]

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Magic Sam, Live at the Avant Garde (Delmark)

Any discerning, seasoned blues aficionado can tell you the jaw-dropping instant they heard Magic Sam for the first time. A possessor of an often imitated—but never duplicated—guitar and vocal technique, you could pick Magic Sam out from 10,000 other blues players at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately, his tragic death in 1969, at the [...]

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How “Mardi Gras Mambo” Became an Unlikely Carnival Anthem

Down in New Orleans where the blues was born, It takes a cool cat to blow a horn On LaSalle and Rampart Street, the combos play with a mambo beat Mardi Gras mambo, mambo, mambo Mardi Gras mambo, mambo, mambo Mardi Gras mambo… Down in New Orleans — “Mardi Gras Mambo” by Adams, Welch, Elliot [...]

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Obituary: Tabby Thomas (1929 – 2014)

Ernest Joseph “Tabby” Thomas—the “Godfather of Baton Rouge Blues”—died peacefully at home January 1 after a long illness. A prolific recording artist, club owner, record label owner, and all-around goodwill ambassador for Louisiana’s blues tradition, Thomas was a fixture on the Baton Rouge music scene for the better part of six-decades. Born January 5, 1929, [...]