Billy Iuso And the Restless Natives, When Can I Come Home (Independent)

If you’re looking for the absolute fulcrum where New Orleans funk and the jam-band aesthetic balance each other out equally, this is it. Guitarist/vocalist Billy Iuso has deep connections in the New Orleans “fonk clique” (as Dr. John calls it) through his work with various Meters offshoots and his deep immersion in the song catalog of New Orleans funk and R&B. He’s also a jam-band champion who knows how to referee a session and keep the stoners grooving for hours on end while teasing them with licks from their favorite classic rock albums between the funk vamps. The process is all laid out here on these live recordings from Tipitina’s. The Natives are Marc Pero on bass, Sam Hotchkiss and Iuso on guitars, Bryan Besse on drums and Michael Burkhart on Hammond B3 and Fender Rhodes. They all earn their money on this session, and Iuso shows why he’s revered in Jamland by juxtaposing the Allen Toussaint/Lee Dorsey lament “When Can I Come Home?” with a medley of “Captain Walker” from the Who’s Tommy album and Dave Mason’s “Shouldn’t Have Took More Than You Gave,” a connection you can be sure no one else has ever thought of. And you just know the dancing at Tip’s got a little more frenzied when the Natives kicked into the Grateful Dead trips engine, “The Other One.” “Don’t Let Go” and “Shake Em On Down” are other highlights. Drew Vonderhaar at Piety Street did a magician’s job of mixing and mastering what sounds like a very muddy original recording, concentrating on the impact and articulation of the stringed instruments, particularly Pero’s outstanding bass playing.