What Joe Hall is the most proud of on his first CD since 2011 are not his own performances per se but his grandfather Clement “King” Ned’s solo rendering of “Le Valse De Samedi Apres Midi” which was recorded by Library of Congress folklorist Ralph Rinzler in 1965. After lying dormant for decades, it only now makes its public debut and reveals Ned’s raw talent, explosive vocals and masterful accordion playing.
“I’m also proud of the “Massé Family Two Step” because I descend from the slaves and slave owners of the Massé Family who are documented as the first free family of color in Southwest Louisiana,’ Hall explains.
Built on a foundation of a wiggly, infectious riff, Hall’s epic “Grand Prairie Blues” references the locale of many of his farming ancestors.
Several selections salute Creole music patriarchs Canray Fontenot and “Bois Sec” Ardoin but it’s important to realize Hall’s music sees no color, especially considering the joyous Cajun fiddle duets led by fellow kindred spirit Forest Huval.
While Hall’s accordion technique is impeccable with quick, sharp accents, Carol Palms’ acoustic string bass adds a hefty punch to the already motoring arrangements.
Ned’s track isn’t the only thing unveiled here. “Nu Nu Breakdown,” a rousing 2013 live recording, features Christine Balfa (guitar) and the late Al Berard (fiddle). If there is a theme to these proceedings, it’s the cultural ties and people Hall cherishes the most.