Monday, September 19, 2011

Swamp Blues Legends Reunion

Marquee of the Rice Theatre, Crowley, LA

Lazy Lester and Rudy Richard, "Scratch My Back"  One of the many Slim Harpo and Excello blues tunes given an expert rendering by the folks that recorded them just down the street. More videos below.

I got a last minute invite to the Swamp Blues Legends Reunion in Crowley, LA, at the Rice Theatre, right down the street from J.D, Miller's old studio where he recorded a lot of Swamp Blues, country, and rock 'n' roll from southwest Louisiana in the 1950's and 60's. A number of the original performers were on hand: Carol Fran (who stole the show like I expect she's stolen every show in her long storied career), Lazy Lester, Lil' Buck Senegal, Warren Storm, Rudy Richard (glad to see him up and about!), Jockey EtienneC.C. Adcock, Guitar Gable (who couldn't play because of his arthritis), James Johnson and more folks whose names escape me.

Warren Storm, Jockey Ettienne, Rudy Richard, Classie Ballou, Carol Fran, Lazy Lester
The full set of pics can be found here.

I suspect this show was an unofficial spin-off of sorts from the Ponderosa Stomp happening this weekend in New Orleans; a lot of these performers were on the bill. The five-hour show, including intermissions and a 30-minute film about J.D. Miller, had its own homespun charms. No alcohol or smoking was allowed in the theatre. It was a sit-down, popcorn and Sno-caps kind of affair. No dancing that I saw, but it seemed like everyone in the room knew someone on stage. I love that part about living here.

It's astounding, the reach J.D, Miller had in the music of the 50's and 60's. For instance, I'd forgotten that he wrote Kitty Wells' massive hit "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels", which would be a career-definer for most music professionals; with Miller it was just a start. Someone needs to write a biography.

I also got a thing for sweet old Crowley.

I fell for Crowley when I did a Country Roads story about the Grand Opera House of the South, restored after it was discovered above the old general merchantile just down the block.

I gave HD video capabilities of my Canon PowerShot SX130 a whirl, and despite some synchronization issues (especially on the Classie Ballou clip) it performed like a champ. Love this camera.

Here's the show:

YouTube playlist of all the videos

Links to the individual videos:

Carol Fran, "Where Were You Last Night" in English and French

Carol Fran, "Money"

Classie Ballou, "Hey! Pardner" (some synchronization issues)

Rudy Richard & CC Adcock, "Ti-Na-Ni-Na-Nu"

Lazy Lester & Warren Storm "Rainin' My Heart"

Lazy Lester & Rudy Richard, "I'm a King Bee" (partial; my battery gave out a minute into it)

CC Adcock & James Johnson (Warren Storm on drums), "Shake Your Hips"

Guitar Gable, "Congo Mombo"

Special thanks to Becky Owens for putting this together and inviting me out!

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