Often lost in the debate over live music venues is the essential role they play in the gestation and sustenance of local traditions. Nowhere was that more true than the heyday of New Orleans blues and R&B. People still mention, say, Johnny Adams playing Uptown with a deserved nostalgia. We need those places in the community, out of the tourist spotlight but at the heart of local life.
Ernie Vincent comes from that territory, and his new album could find a home in any of the countless jukeboxes that once filled the time between sets. The ghosts of Fess and Earl King are close at hand; the Howlin’ Wolf, K-Doe and Ray Charles covers are lively; and the outfit is appropriately workmanlike. Eric Heigle’s drums and the horn section of James Martin, Mike Kobrin and Ian Smith give Vincent the right landscape for his straight-ahead vocals and guitar. The original cuts are decent, New Orleans-centric burners (“Party on the Bayou,” “Mardi Gras Chief,” “River City People”) meant to frame energetic late-night revelry. One can almost hear the buzzer and the bartender walking to allow another guest through the door.
Especially good is the final cut, “We Do Funk.” Martin opens things with a confident solo, followed by Kobrin’s trumpet, the rhythm of Vincent’s wah pedal underlying the strut. Good to remember how deep things get in the wee hours when the neighbors are asleep.