BLUESIN’ BY THE BAYOU-I’M NOT JIVIN’.
BLUESIN’ BY THE BAYOU-I’M NOT JIVIN’.
It’s no exaggeration to describe Louisiana as a musical hotbed. For over a century, it has given the world blues, cajun, creole, Dixieland, swamp pop and zydeco. That’s not all. Many blues, country, jazz and rock artists were born and bred in Louisiana. Despite its enviable musical pedigree, for too long, Louisiana was overlooked by compilers.
Instead, compilers headed to Chicago, Detroit, Nashville, New York and Philly. They became favourite destinations for compilers of blues, country, R&B and soul compilations. Gradually, though, compilers realised that across America, there was a treasure trove of musical awaiting discovery.
Soon, compilers were searching from states and cities across America. However, still, Louisiana was being overlooked by compilers. That’s despite having a treasure trove of musical delights awaiting discovery. Fortunately, Ian Saddler was about introduce the wider world to the Louisiana’s musical heritage.
Over the last few years, Ian Saddler has compiled thirteen volumes of his By The Bayou series for Ace Records. His latest compilation is Bluesin’ By The Bayou-I’m Not Jivin’. It’s the third compilation of Louisiana blues, and comes complete with side serving of zydeco. There’s contributions from Henry Gray, Lightnin’ Slim, Slim Harpo, Lazy Lester, Lonesome Sundown, Boozoo Chavis, Blue Charlie Morris, Jimmy Anderson, Chris Kenner and Johnny Sonnier. Many of these artists will be familiar to veterans of the By The Bayou series. However, there’s also a few surprises in store, with rarities and unreleased tracks featuring on Bluesin’ By The Bayou-I’m Not Jivin’. So without further ado, let’s see what Bluesin’ By The Bayou-I’m Not Jivin’ has in store?
Blues man Henry Gray opens Bluesin’ By The Bayou-I’m Not Jivin’ with I’m A Lucky Man. This was a track that was recorded in 1970 at JD Miller’s studio. By then, Henry Grey was forty-five, and a part-time musician. It hadn’t always been like this.
After leaving the US Army in the early fifties, Henry Grey settled in Chicago, which was then the blues capital of America. That was where he met Big Maceo Merriweather, who introduced Henry to other blues musicians. By 1956, Henry became Howlin’ Wolf’s pianist, accompanied the legendary blues man for the next twelve years. However, when Henry’s father died he had to return home to Alsen, to help run the family business. So during the week, Henry worked as a roofer, and played the blues at the weekend. Occasionally, Henry recorded a few tracks, including I’m A Lucky Man and Cold Chills, which made its debut on the 1985 compilation Louisiana Swamp Blues Volume 2. Both tracks showcase a hugely talented pianist and singer, whose one of the blues’ best kept secrets.
Otis Hicks was christened Otis Hicks. However, when JD Miller heard him play guitar, Lightnin’ Slim was born. He went on to become one of the best blues guitarists of his generation. That’s why he’s featured on several volumes of the Bluesin’ By The Bayou series. This time around, his contribution is a previously unreleased alternate take of Miss Fannie Brown. It’s a reminder of one the great blues guitarists in his prime, while he delivers a vocal that’s laden in innuendo. Adding the finishing touch to the track is a harmonica that’s probably played by his brother-in-law Slim Harpo. They often worked together, and formed a potent partnership.
When blues aficionados talk about harmonica players, Slim Harpo’s name is sure to come up. He’s regarded as one of the best. So it’s fitting that he features twice times on Bluesin’ By The Bayou-I’m Not Jivin’. His first contribution is Things Gonna Change, a slow, moody blues which features a hurt filled vocal and a masterclass on harmonica. Things Gonna Change made its debut on Flyright Records’ 1976 compilation Slim Harpo Knew The Blues.
Slim Harpo’s second contribution is his 1972 single Wild About My Baby. It was released on JD Miller’s Blues Unlimited label, and is the perfect showcase for Slim’s harmonica. As the song bursts into life, Slim’s harmonica drives the arrangement along. That’s until a lovestruck Slim confesses I’m “Wild About My Baby.” It’s another reminder of one of the great blues harmonica players.
Another great harmonica player is Lazy Lester, who also contributes two tracks to Bluesin’ By The Bayou-I’m Not Jivin’. His first contribution is an unreleased take of I Told My Little Woman, which Lazy Lester recorded for Excello. It’s a tale of heartbreak where Lazy Lester sounds as if he’s lived and survived the lyrics. The same can be said of Patrol Wagon, which originally, featured on Poor Boy Blues, a compilation of Lazy Lester’s music released in 1979, by Flyright Records.
Guitarist Lonesome Sundown is another veteran of the By The Bayou series. His recording career began in the mid-fifties, but by 1969 Lonesome Sundown was signed to Excello and working with legendary Louisiana producer JD Miller. They cut I’m A Mojo Man, which originally, featured on his 1969 eponymous debut album. Seven years later, in 1976, Flyright Records released Bought Me A Ticket, a compilation of tracks that Lonesome Sundown recorded with JD Miller. Another of the tracks on Bought Me A Ticket was No Use To Worry. This is another tale of betrayal. With a slow, moody arrangement it’s a song that epitomises everything that’s good about the blues.
Nowadays, Boozoo Chavis is regarded as one of the founding fathers of zydeco.This was a genre of music created by French speaking Creoles in South-West Louisiana. Boozoo Chavis’ career began in 1954, when he sang and played his accordion. Right up until his death in 2001, aged seventy-six, Boozoo Chavis was playing live. He also enjoyed a successful recording career.
In 1955, Boozoo Chavis released Forty-One Days as a single on the Folk-Star label. Tucked away on the B-Side, was the ballad Bye Bye Catin. It features Boozoo Chavis as his career is about to blossom. The other track, Oh Yeah She’s Gone, is from much later in Boozoo Chavis career. Originally, it was recorded for Flyright Records, but was never released. That’s a great shame, as it showcases a charismatic and confident performer who thoroughly enjoys making music,
When Wayne Shuler first heard Elton Anderson play in 1958, he was a member of the Sid Lawrence band. Wayne arranged for Elton Anderson to record at his father’s studio. Wayne’s father was none other than producer Eddie Shuler, a legendary figure in the Louisiana music scene.
At Eddie Shuler’s studio, guitarist Elton Anderson recorded Shed So Many Tears and Roll On Train. They were leased to the Vin label, and marked the start of Elton Anderson’s career. He went on to release a string of singles. Sadly, none of them were particularly successful. However, not everything Elton Anderson recorded were released. Neither, I Want To Talk To You (Baby) nor Prove Me Guilty were released, and make a welcome debut on Bluesin’ By The Bayou-I’m Not Jivin’. They’re the perfect introduction to another artist who never enjoyed the success his talent deserved…Elton Anderson.
Music was in the Garlow family’s blood. Clarence Garlow’s father had been a musician. So it was no surprise when Clarence Garlow followed in his father’s footsteps. By 1955, Clarence Garlow was about to release I Feel Like Calling You on the Folk-Star label. It’s slow and sultry with a needy vocal. Sadly, I Feel Like Calling You wasn’t a commercial success, and by 1956 Clarence called time on his recording career. He continued to play live, and divided his time between playing live and DJ-ing. By the early sixties, Clarence decided to concentrate on DJ-ing, and turned his back on playing live. However, I Feel Like Calling You is a reminder of another charismatic and talented artist, Clarence Garlow.
Clifton Chenier is another artist who pioneered zydeco. Just like Boozoo Chavis, Clifton Chenier played accordion and sang. His first contribution is Everybody Calls Me Crazy, a previously unreleased track. Night And Day My Love featured on Zydeco Blues, a compilation released in 1976 by Fylright Records. It’s a track where the blues influence in zydeco shines through. As a result, it’s a track could’ve only been recorded in one state..Louisiana.
The artist that closes Bluesin’ By The Bayou-I’m Not Jivin’, is harmonica player Jimmy Anderson. He worked extensively with producer JD Miller, and produced Baby Let’s Burn and Frankie And Johnny. Both tracks featured on Flyright Records’ 1988 Baton Rouge Harmonica compilation. For many people, this compilation introduced them to Jimmy Anderson. Hopefully, Bluesin’ By The Bayou-I’m Not Jivin’ introduces a new generation to Jimmy Anderson, and all the artists on the compilation.
The twenty-eight tracks on Bluesin’ By The Bayou-I’m Not Jivin’ are a tantalising taste of Louisiana’s rich musical heritage. Just like previous volumes in By The Bayou series, familiar faces from previous volumes of the By The Bayou series sit next to newcomers. Similarly, singles, album tracks, unreleased tracks and hidden gems rub shoulders on Bluesin’ By The Bayou-I’m Not Jivin’. They’ve all one thing in common, their quality.
From the first volume in the By The Bayou series, Ian Saddler has dug deeper than previous compilers. This has paid off. Now the By The Bayou series is one of Ace Records’ longest running and most successful series. When Bluesin’ By The Bayou-I’m Not Jivin’ was recently released by Ace Records, it became the thirteenth instalment in the series. Given the quality of music on Bluesin’ By The Bayou-I’m Not Jivin’, that’s not surprising. It’s one of the best instalments in this long running and successful series. If Ian Saddler continues to find music of the quality of that on Bluesin’ By The Bayou-I’m Not Jivin’, then the By The Bayou series looks like it’ll run and run. Let’s hope so
BLUESIN’ BY THE BAYOU-I’M NOTJIVIN’.