Category Archives: New Orleans Blues

Louisiana Blues harmonica monument Schoolboy Cleve

Louisiana Blues harmonica monument Schoolboy Cleve

‘She’s Gone’ is one of the finest rocking blues song around and was recorded for Feature Records in 1954 by Schoolboy Cleve. As you can hear Cleve was an excellent harmonica player and one of the founders of the New Orleans, Louisiana Blues sound. He managed to preserve this Blues legacy for over fifty years.

Louisiana blues harmonica players

Back in the day Schoolboy Cleve was part of a group harmonica players in New Orleans that made a whole lot of fame. Buddy Guy was one of the musicians that was impressed by the work of these guys that included people like Cleve, Lightnin’ Slim and Lazy Lester. In his biography “When I Left Home: My Story”,  Buddy Guy tells “I was into the Baton Rouge harmonica players: They were the original harmonica players, and Cleve and Slim were first around. Those guys were always talking about New Orleans music”. All these guys found a place in the Blues history books, but I like Schoolboy Cleve the most because of Rhythm ‘nd Blues approach.

South To West: Iron & Gold

His monumental work has been brought to getter in what CD Baby calls ‘A historical musical treasure’. It is the album South to West: Iron & Gold, with Schoolboy Cleve’s original recordings and unreleased material from the period 1954 to 1998. “Schoolboy Cleve felt living in the South was hard like iron. After moving to the West it felt like he struck gold. The title, South to West – Iron and Gold, represents his journey”.

During production of this CD, Hurricane Katrina and Rita hit New Orleans, Louisiana and other parts of the South.

Video Credit: Posted on Youtube by Sanma Bluesanddroll : I do not own the copyright to this recording so if it needs to be removed.

She’s Gone and Strange Letter Blues

In She’s Gone you hear a fast rhythm a groovy harmonica and swinging vocals. It is the easy listening blues sound that especially with a nice beer or whisky makes a man wanna dance. Alongside his regional college’s he recorded several songs. Saidlt enough his solo work wasn’t released that much. You can hear him on Lightnin’ Slim’s recording ‘Sugar Plum’ and a whole lot of other songs on Slim’s album “”It’s Mighty Crazy!”. Schoolboy Cleve is known worldwide and is considered one of the greatest harmonica players that ever lived. He played with other legendary artist like Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Grammy nominee Ron Thompson and many others.

photo credit: Blues Harp via photopin (license)

She’s Gone : Schoolboy Cleve

SCHOOLBOY CLEVE- STRANGE LETTER BLUES

Schoolboy Cleve Beautiful Beautiful Love (1957)

Schoolboy Cleve – My Heart is Crying

Schoolboy Cleve – I’m Him

School Boy Cleve – Here I Go Again

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Blues and Country from Swamp master Lazy Lester

Blues and Country from Swamp master Lazy Lester

He is a ‘National Treasure’ and the ‘High Sheriff of Louisiana’, he is ‘The Nut’, but above all Lazy Lester is a defining musician in the Louisiana Swamp and Country Blues scene. Since he started recording in the mid-fifties at the Nashville based label Excello alongside Lightnin’ Slim he has seen more Juke Joints in the United States than a man could remember.

Key creator of the Louisiana Swamp Blues

Lazy Lester (aka Leslie Johnson) Is one of the key creators of the South Louisiana swamp blues sound in the 1950s, Lester has been often imitated but never duplicated. His ride in the world of blues started when he was a boy working as a woodcutter and at a grocery store. In that store he bought the #1 hit record ‘Juke’ of Little Walter and a new harmonica. That buy was a life changer and a future living. He is highly influenced by Little Walter and Jimmy Reed, especially Reed’s vocal style is hearable in a lot of Lester songs. He has a lot of love for country and got hooked by Jimmy Rogers.

Meeting Lightnin’ Slim in the Bus

The most interesting story about Lazy Lester is the one about the Rayne, Louisiana bus ride. Lightnin’ Slim -who was already an established recording artist- was also on the bus Lester took. Slim was on his way to Crowley, where he would record at Jay Miller’s Studio for Excello Records. Crowley was seven miles further than Rayne and because Lester had a serious itch to be around big time music making he stayed on the bus and accompanied Slim to the studio. Slim’s harmonica player wasn’t in the studio. The probably nervous Lazy Lester was asked to do the harmonica part for Slim’s recording, and did not disappoint.

Jay Miller, the producer was impressed by Lester’s work and in 1957 he debuted at Excello as a solo artist with the record “ I’m Gonna Leave You Baby” and ‘Lester’s Stomp’. It was the producer Miller who gave Lester his nickname “Lazy”, “because of Lester’s slow and lazy style of talking. This nickname already stands more than fifty years now!

They call me Lazy album from 1976

Lazy_Lester_in_2004A Lazy Lester album you should listen to is definitely They Call Me Lazy released in 1976. This album contains classic songs like ‘Lester’s Stomp’, I’m So Tired’, ‘Strange Things Happen’ and Tell Me Pretty Baby’. The cool thing about Lazy Lester’s material is the diversity. Song change from Rock ‘n Roll to Country, to Blues and to Swamp pop. This cocktail of musical roots makes his songs never boring and always interesting to Listen to.

Lazy Lester Rides Again

Lightnin’ Slim and Slim Harpo moved from Louisiana to Michigan and Lazy Lester would follow them. He lived in obscurity, till he recorded a new album Lazy Lester Rides Again. In 1988 he would release the follow up Harp and Soul which was recorded for Alligator Records. The album featured Lester’s harp-fueled swamp blues and brought him to the largest audience of his career.

Louisiana Swamp Heratige

Today Lazy Lester is one of the few original Bluesmen who is still around today. It is nice to imagine the man performing on a stage of an old school Juke Joint with a Harmonica in his hands blowin’ the Harp on a Swampy Blues beat. The heritage of Louisiana Blues and Country is in his hands, soul and bones.

Photo Credit: By Tom Beetz [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Pondarosa Stomp – Lazy Lester 

Rockin’ Blues * I’M A LOVER, NOT A FIGHTER – Lazy Lester 

My Home Is a Prison – Slim Harpo & Lazy Lester 

Lazy Lester – They Call Me Lazy (Full Album)

Lazy Lester They call me Lazy (Released 1976)

01 – Lester’s Stomp
02 – Strange Things Happen
03 – I’m So Tired
04 – Lover Not A Fighter
05 – Late Late In The Evening
06 – Whoa Now
07 – They Call Me Lazy
08 – Bloodstains
09 – Come On Home
10 – Quit Foolin’ Me
11 – Tell Me Pretty Baby
12 – I’m Leavin

Lazy Lester – I Hear You Knockin’ 

 

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Dr. John’s New Orleans blues Gumbo

dr Johns gumbo black bull blues

Dr. John’s New Orleans blues Gumbo

The music of Amerian icon Dr. John has always been filed with the New Orleans rhythm and blues flavor. I listened to the debut
album of the Nighttripper Gris Gris which has a psychedelic, hoodoo and swamp approach. Gris Gris contains hits like ‘Mama Roux’.  But the true New Orleans music of Dr. John’s can be found on his fifth and in my opinion his best album Dr. John’s Gumbo. Search through the playlist of this album, and you will conclude that there are only classic New Orleans songs on it. The piano, the rhythm, the bass and the vocals Dr. John’s Gumbo is a delicious musical meal for blues lovers.

Stackolee Folk and blues traditional

Stackolee is a traditional folk song which has been recorded by a legion of blues and folk singers. Stackolee is a song about the murder of  Billy Lyons by local pimp “Stag” Lee Shelton in St. Louis  Missouri at Christmas, 1895 (Mother Jones). Dr. John version contains a basis blues bass line that continuously  grooves through your head. But above all, every piano player should know how to play this song. The honky Tonking piano of Stackolee is a standard, a great example of honky tonk piano. This song shows how Dr. John proves to be the embodiment of New Orleans’ musical legacy.

Mess Around piano boogie

Piano boogie woogie lovers wil alsol like Mess Around. This song kicks in with a monster piano line and that groove goes on till the last note. Mess Around was  written by Atlantic Records president and founder Ahmet Ertegün under the pseudonym of A. Nugetre, Ray Charles scored a hit with Mess Around, Dr. John’s version however equals Charles’ version and is filled with the New Orleans boogie.

Iko Iko, Big Chief and Let The Good Times Roll…

Dr. John black bull bluesThe Beat of Iko Iko keeps dancing through my head. It is the backbone of the song, and around that beat  John created a compositionof horns, piano and vocals that keeps growing bigger. Let The Good Times Roll was written by New Orleans rhythm and blues artist Earl King. King isn’t the only New Orleans legends that has been tributed on Dr. John’s Gumbo. Professor Longhair, The Dixie Cups and Huey Smith are all represented on ‘Gumbo’ . Professor Longhair’s Big Chief is one of my favorite piano songs. The piano boogie-line in Big Chief is something I wish to play one day. Dr. John used a hammond organ to play the famous line. Like Iko Iko, Big Chief  is also a song that really grows during the song.

Dr. John made fame as a session musician and as solo artist. Througout his career he won six Grammy’s and has been inducted in the Blues Hall of fame.  I recommend everybody to listen to this New Orleans musical treasure Dr. John’s Gumbo.

Read the original Album review from Rollingstone (1972) here…

Video/Audio Credits:I do not own the copyrights to these recordings. These videos are for historical and educational purposes. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED

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Cousin Joe Piano Blues legend from New Orleans

Cousin Joe Piano Blues legend from New Orleans


The rhythm and groove, the lyrics and slang and the harp and guitar solos make blues music so great. In New Orleans the piano is the primarily instrument that made the blues big. Throughout the years many blues pianist recorded their albums in New Orleans like Dr. John, Allan Toussaint,  Eddie Bo  and James Booker. Last few weeks the great blues pianist Cousin Joe inspired me the most.

In 1984 Joe played at a concerthall in New Orleans where he, an old man, performed his favorite songs. I really enjoy cousin Joe’s songs. They are rhythmic, relax and have great themes. Songs like ‘Thats Enough’ and ‘How Come My Dog Don’t Bark’ are a good example of that. 

I Dont Want Fortune And Fame, All I Want Is You To Carry My Name, And Thats Enough Yeah Tats Enough Baby Your Loving Is Enough For Me.

His New Orleans concert in 1984 was filmed bij Storyville Films, it is a cool show, Joe performes his bluesiest Piano songs and adds a lot of laughter to his lyrics. Cousin Joe shows he is having a good time. And the song… listen to ‘ New Orleans’ and ‘ Everything Made of Wood Once Was a Tree’. Especially these song are vocally absolute jewells.

Cousin Joe – New Orleans

Cousin Joe – Everything Made of Wood Once Was a Tree (New Orleans 1984)

Cousin Joe – Spotify

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Zydeco music Clifton Chenier

Zydeco music Clifton Chenier

Some know him as ‘The King Of Zydeco’ other as the ‘King Of The South’, he was the first French speaking American grammy winner, this blog is about Clifton Chenier. Clifton is famous for his influential accordion sound and as the creator of a musical mix between Cajun, Blues, Rhythm & Blues, Rock ‘n Roll into a Zydeco sandwich.

Blues Grammy

clifton chenier blues zydeco music
Cotton_field_kv08 clifton chenier blues zydeco music

Chenier was born in Opelousas, Louisiana he grew up working in the sugar and rice fields of the Pelican State. Clifton’s father was an accordion player, his uncle was a guitarist and a fiddler, the Chenier family was a music family. He featured in the beautiful 1973 documentary film Hot Pepper by director Les Blank about Zydeco. The documentary shows the musical life of Chenier from the sweaty music clubs in Louisiana through the Bayous of the countryside into downtown New Orleans streets.

Frenchin’the Boogie

My favourite album of Clifton Chenier is ‘Frenchin’ the Boogie’ released in 1976 on Bluestar records. It contains covers of Ray Charles ( I Got A Woman), Muddy Waters ( I Just Want To Make Love To You). It is a swinging album with a perfect mix of Zydeco, Rock n Roll and Blues. A typical New Orleans album.

Clifton’s Blues

His cousin, Lightning Hopkins wife introduced Chenier to Chris Strachwitz, owner of the roots music label Arhoolie.. Strachwitz quickly Signed Chenier to his label.

Continue reading Zydeco music Clifton Chenier

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