Monday, October 20, 2014

Southern soul rounds off BBQ festival

Southern soul dominated on a fantastic final day of the Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival in New Orleans, with great performances by Mel Waiters, Denise Lasalle and Bobby Rush and good stuff too from some of the lesser known artists.
Mel Waiters had a largely black female audience eating out of the palm of his hand as he swept onto the stage wearing a pink suit and showing what an excellent showman he is. Originally from San Antonio, he is a big name on the chitlin circuit and knows how to whip up some fervour with a non stop, risqué and often amusing set, backed by a lively band and two female backing singers. Numbers included many of his hits, such as The Smaller The Club The Bigger The Party, Pop It Baby, Got No Curfew (much enjoyed by the ladies in the audience), Got My Whisky, Hit It And Quit It and Hole In The Wall. He also paid tribute to two Bobby's who have passed away recently - Bobby Womack (That's The Way I Feel about You) and Bobby Bland (Members Only Tonight).
Also on top form was Denise Lasalle, appearing with her own band. In an interview earlier she explained how she had run away to Chicago from Mississippi, how she met up with Billy The Kid Emerson and how, after an unproductive year with Chess she eventually made the big time with Trapped By A a Thing Called Love in 1971. On stage she performed that song, along with the aptly titled Still The Queen, I Forgot To Remember To Forget, Juke Joint Woman, Now Run And Tell, The Walls Were Paper Thin, Drop That Zero and, inevitably, My Toot Toot.
Headlining the festival and, once again providing excellent entertainment, was the irrepressible Bobby Rush, now approaching his 81st birthday but still as fit as a flea. We know what to expect with Bobby, with his innuendo, bawdy humour, harmonica playing and big smile, not to mention his two long suffering, but very visual booty girls, and he didn't disappoint. There were the over sized knickers, Elvis impersonation, numbers such as She's Fine, Garbage Man, an all action Hoochie Coochie Man, 19 Years Old and Night Fishing, all performed in the best possible taste - if your taste is for the low down, dirty and very funny. Bobby is a one off and not to be missed.
Earlier in the day there were some names which were new to me but still enjoyable. Luke Winslow King has the look of Benedict Cumberbatch and a soft bluesy voice and is one to watch. Brother Tyrone started well with a couple of Clarence Carter songs (Snatching It Back and Slip Away) but faded somewhat, Mia Borders looked and sounded good on some self penned New Orleans styled numbers, while Vasti Jackson provided some up tempo blues and showed good stage presence. Also of interest was Valerie June, an Americana singer songwriter with a piercing voice who looks great with her dreadlocks piled high and who describes her songs as 'organic moonshine roots music'.
All in all this was one of the best days I've enjoyed at a festival and highly memorable.
After the show Dave Carroll and I, along with Dave and Julie Thomas and Ronald Cook, cousin of Scotty Mick, went to The Carrollton Station bar, where we enjoyed the New Orleans style sound of the John Mooney band, with Brit Bob Andrews on keyboards. An appropriate way to end the Crescent City leg of our trip.
Nick Cobban.


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