Ironing Board Sam & the Sticks, Ironing Board Sam & the Sticks (Music Maker)

Ironing Board Sam & the Sticks, Ironing Board Sam & the Sticks, album cover, OffBeat Magazine, October 2014

Ironing Board Sam is quirky, though always in a magically creative kind of way.

The 75-year-old keyboardist, vocalist and composer is blessed with an imaginative mind that often moves his music into surprising places. Take, for instance, his version of “Summertime,” off his new, self-titled release on the Music Maker label. The tune is considered by many as one of those too-often-performed, fallback standards favored by some vocalists. Immediately, Ironing Board takes it to another level by providing some elegant piano maneuvers, changing the lyrics to make it his own story, and then making a detour to another tempo and slipping into a bit of “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” His rendition brings a smile to the face and, in turn, Ironing Board is heard laughing at the end of the cut.

Ironing Board Sam, a South Carolina native who lived and performed in New Orleans for decades and amazed many with stunts like performing at Jazz Fest in a 1,500-gallon water tank, recently made a big comeback with the help of the Music Maker Relief Foundation. Established to help rejuvenate the careers of veteran Southern musicians, it re-released Ironing Board’s remarkable 1967 album The Ninth Wonder of the World of Music. That led to Living Blues magazine naming him the Comeback Artist of the Year in 2012.

His new CD just reinforces that recognition, with the keyboardist showing his full range of talent on acoustic and electric pianos and organ. As heard on his soulfully sung “Tell Me,” Ironing Board Sam is blues musician through and through, though he also travels back to Africa for the prayer-like, though funky, self-penned “The Creature.” Ironing Board demonstrates that he can be as sincere and thoughtful as he can be funny on “Good Neighbor,” on which he plays some gentle organ.

Ironing Board Sam proves again that he remains a wonder, especially to those who get the genius of quirkiness.