In 1997, Dave Alvin – former guitarist and songwriter with the Blasters, and one of the leading advocates of classic blues and R&B on the West Coast roots rock scene – played a special show in Long Beach, California, where he was joined by three very special guests. The fabled Texas fiddler and guitarist Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Chicago harmonica master Billy Boy Arnold, and San Francisco-born blues guitarist Joe Louis Walker all sat in with Alvin that evening, making for a very eventful evening for fans of blues and American roots music. The show was captured on tape, and Live in Long Beach 1997 allows listeners to hear Alvin mix it up on-stage with a few of his heroes. Songs include "Barn Burning", "Long White Cadillac", "I Wish You Would", "Chains of Love", "Jolie Blon", "Wabash Cannonball", and more.
From the sweet to the salacious to the poignant, Maria Muldaur's eponymous, strong debut features savvy studio vets, talented guests, strong tunes, and Muldaur's lissome pipes. The outstanding players include Ry Cooder, David Grisman, Clarence White, and Mac Rebennack, better known as Dr. John. A tasteful guitar solo by the underrated Amos Garrett elevates the charming surprise hit single "Midnight at the Oasis." Although she later gravitated to jazz and gospel, Muldaur's first outing is heavy on songs derived from country and blues. A rousing "Work Song," borrowed from Kate & Anna McGarrigle, is only one of several highlights.
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown was 74 when he recorded American Music, Texas Style, and the Texas bluesman made it clear that he still had plenty of energy. On this CD, Brown really emphasizes his love of jazz. Young hard bop players like trumpeter Nicholas Payton and alto saxman Wes Anderson are on board, and the veteran singer/guitarist offers no less than three standards from Duke Ellington's repertoire ("I'm Beginning to See the Light," "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," and son Mercer Ellington's "Things Ain't What They Used to Be") and two classics from Charlie Parker's years with Jay McShann ("Hootie Blues," "Jumpin' the Blues"). Meanwhile, the jazz influence is hard to miss on such fast jump blues as "Rock My Blues Away" and "Without Me Baby." Brown's voice is thinner than it used to be, but his guitar playing is as energetic as ever. While this CD isn't definitive, it's a good, solid effort that Brown can be proud of.
A delightfully eclectic program spotlighting nearly all of Gate's musical leanings – blues, jazz, country, even a hearty taste of "Louisiana Zydeco" – and a revealing glimpse of his multi-instrumental abilities: he plays guitar, violin, drums, and piano! There's a tender remake of the Chuck Willis R&B ballad and a funk-tinged update of "Got My Mojo Working," but everything else is from Brown's own pen.
A sort of a sequel to Gatemouth's 1974 Cajun country & western cowboy album Down South in the Bayou Country, the originally issued Bogalusa Boogie Man consists of 12 tracks performed in more or less that same vein. "Bogalusa Boogie Man" was recorded in Bogalusa, LA, during March of 1975, almost exactly one year after Bayou Country. Material for this project was composed by Danny Morrison, Red Lane, Hoyt Garrick, David Craig, Jerry Hubbard, Pat Rush, Fred Martin, and Little Feat founder Lowell George, whose "Dixie Chicken" features "vocals by everyone around in the studio, including friends and neighbors and the one and only Woody Lee Lewis." George is said to have singled out this version as his all-time favorite.
Like everything on Memphis Slim's album Goin' Back to Tennessee or Alvin Youngblood Hart's "Tallacatcha" (a Western swing performance worthy of Bob Wills), Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's 1975 Barclay album Down South in the Bayou Country completely transcends any and all attempts to confine this diverse artist within the artificial parameters of blues or any other preordained category. Consisting mostly of songs written by Hoyt Garrick, Jr., Charles Gressett, and David Craig with additional tunes by J. Loyd and Joe Stampley, this pretty parfait of country & western, Southern rock, cowboy hoedown, and electric Cajun soul music was recorded during February and March 1974 in Bogalusa, LA. Gatemouth, fresh from his tenure as Deputy Sheriff of San Juan County, NM, sounds particularly pleased to be active at the center of a project so completely infused with authentic Southern sensibilities. Perhaps the most satisfying track off of the original album is "Loup Garou." This hoodoo funk ritual with background vocals by Geraldine "Sister Gerry" Richard sounds as if it might have been influenced by Dr. John's "Loop Garoo," which had appeared on that artist's Atco album Remedies in 1970.