Professor Porkchop & the Dishes, U R My Everything (Independent)

Professor Pork Chop and the Dishes, U R My Everything, album cover

Lots of people write about falling in love with New Orleans for clichéd reasons like second lines and gumbo. But when a song called “Move to New Orleans” includes the lines “I wanna dance all night at the Spotted Cat / Or wherever Meschiya’s at,” you can assume the writer really knows the territory.

Professor Porkchop, aka singer-keyboardist Chris McCaa, actually hails from Shreveport, so if he indeed moved to New Orleans he wouldn’t have that far to go. And his CD is essentially a piano blues disc that ventures outside the box a few times. From the sound of things, he hasn’t quite settled on a style yet: a couple of second line rockers here, some heavy swamp rock in the John Hiatt and the Goners vein there, a lone jazz track and some straight-up blues. He pounds the keys with style on “Sprague Street Rag,” an easy-rolling piano solo, and on “Puerto Rican Hotel,” where he trades solos with flautist George Hancock. He also adds some local color to “Early in the Morning”—which recalls the way Harry Nilsson did the tune, and the way Professor Longhair might have.

“Junkie for Your Love” is the only track that stretches too far; McCaa just sounds too down-home to nail the edgy-sexy, Chris Isaak-meets-Morphine vibe the song aims for (though guitarist Jason Coffield earns points for quoting the James Bond theme). He returns to the obsessive love idea on “I’m Gone” but pulls it off better thanks to the Hiatt-type groove. The title track is a more wholesome love song, and a meat-and-potatoes rocker with which the Professor sounds most comfortable. He seems an old-fashioned artist at heart, and there’s no shame in that.