Friday, June 19, 2020

Sean Ardoin Reminds Us He CAME THRU PULLIN’


Two-time Grammy © Award nominee Sean Ardoin is a descendent of zydeco royalty. A member of the Ardoin family who claim Amédé Ardoin, the Father of Zydeco as a relative as well as Alphonse “Bois Sec” Ardoin and Lawrence “Black” Ardoin. In fact, Lawrence is Sean’s father and Sean could not have had a better musical education.
As I’ve opined before, each generation takes the music it inherits and makes it their own. No music exists solely to be a museum piece. Music is meant to be played and played with. Blues, country, jazz, rock, and just about every other musical genre you can name evolves, so why shouldn’t zydeco?
If you can keep a secret, I actually love zydeco, even if I don’t get much of a chance to listen to it. I have a handful of albums and I tend to pull them out when I’m thinking about Louisiana, or when it gets near Mardi Gras. The sound of an accordion fires me up, and I bought two washboards to play along when I can.
So, lets’ get to Ardoin’s latest album, Came Thru Pullin’. If that title sounds familiar, it’s because Ardoin has chosen ten songs he’s recorded previously to put a new spin on them with his new band. Grab yourself a Po’ Boy and a café au lait and let’s get to listening.
He starts off the album with the title track, Came Thru Pullin’, and if I thought this was going to not have any blues on it, let me tell you that I was very much mistaken. This song opens up with a hard-edged bark before Ardoin rocks out with his accordion. I was moving all around in my chair bouncing to this song. Yeah, I’m going to slip this one into an episode of Time For The Blues toot suite!
Ardoin follows up with Bounce, and if this song doesn’t make you put down your Po’ Boy and dance, you better check your pulse mon chere! Every note, every syllable gets into your soul and transports themselves into your feet and you can’t help getting up and shaking what you got!
Ardoin’s accordion gets a real workout on the next number, No That Ain’t Right. It’s not quite a mellow song (real understatement), but it’s not quite as raucous as the previous song. Don’t let that stop you, the lyrics could easily make a great blues tune. Another strong song.
If there is such a thing as Psychedelic Zydeco, then Get Right Girl definitely falls into that category. Mix that cool accordion with some electronic whooses, a nasty hook, some processed vocals and a little ‘70’s soul thrown in and you get this song. It’s fun, it’s freaky, and it makes you sit right up.
I’m Not Gonna Wait utilizes keys and strings to open up the song. That’s quickly followed by a haunting melody and more processed vocals. It’s a sad song of lost love and could easily be an R&B number. It’s a little unexpected, but I love to hear artists take chances. My guess is you’ll like this one a lot, or scratch your head wondering what the heck is going on?
With a title like Gumbo Time, I definitely had a style of song in mind and Ardoin took me in a different direction. Yeah, his accordion was there, but it was more hip hop than what I thought it would be. This one’s more for a younger audience than I represent, but he’s really shaken up expectations. Not a bad thing.
A little more R&B Zydeco follows with It’s Love. Ardoin is pushing boundaries on this album and I will confess that while I find his approach interesting, sometimes I have to play a song a couple of times to really get into it. This song has great harmonies, and it’s reminiscent of some of the ‘70’s Soul I used to listen to late at night.
Creole Rock and Soul opens up Kool Rolling, and this is a rocking track that’s going to get you up and moving. The lyrics are alive and delivered in a rapid-fire manner. I think this one is a true crowd pleaser and I hope to catch Ardoin live some day so I can see the audience’s reaction.
Some more keyboards open Nothing Like Our Love, and the song takes a pleading style before picking up the tempo. Ardoin’s accordion is a background instrument, adding just a touch of spice to the song, not taking so much of the spotlight. An interesting choice.
He brings the album to a close with a hard rocking Shut Them Down. The song’s got a lot of energy and makes a great closing number, getting the listener up and moving one more time. I think this one could pop up on Roots Americana Shows easily and I, for one, will enjoy it on my own personal playlist.
I’m not an expert on Zydeco by any means, so please take these opinions for what they are, just my thoughts on a very cool artist whom I want to hear more from. I’ll be looking for some of Sean Ardoin’s earlier albums, but in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the heck out of Came Thru Pullin’. I hope you will as well.

**HOLD THE PRESSES**
Sean Ardoin has released a beautiful song called What Do You See. Simply put, it’s the most gorgeous and emotional song I have heard all year. If this song doesn’t melt your heart, you really need to examine your beliefs. Please go to the link below and spend four minutes and change listening to his voice and some lovely piano.

Sean Ardoin Discography
1991 Lawrence Ardoin and Lanniappe - Maison de Soul
1994 Chris Ardoin and Double Clutchin "That's the Lick!" (Maison de Soul)
1995 Chris Ardoin and Double Clutchin "Lick it up" (Maison de Soul)
1997 Chris Ardoin and Double Clutchin "Gon be Jus Fine" (Rounder Records)
1998 Chris Ardoin and Double Clutchin "Turn the Page" (Rounder Records)
1999 Sean Ardoin-n-Zydekool (self titled) (Zydekool Records)
2001 Sean Ardoin-n-Zydekool "Pullin" (Tomorrow Records)
2003 Sean Ardoin-n-Zydekool "Home Brew" (Tomorrow Records)
2004 Sean Ardoin-n-Zydekool "Strictly for the Dancers" (Zydekool Records)
2009 Sean Ardoin and R.O.G.K. "How Great is Your Love" (Zydekool Records)
2010 Sean Ardoin-n-Zydekool "Final Chapter: New Beginning" (Zydekool Records)
2013 Sean Ardoin-n-Zydekool "RETURN OF THE KOOL" (Zydekool Records)
2013 Creole United "Non Jamais Fait" (Creole United Records)
2016 Sean Ardoin-n-Zydekool “Live at the Chicken Run”
2018 Creole United “Tu Kekkchause a Korrek”
2018 Sean Ardoin “Kreole Rock and Soul”
2020 Sean Ardoin “Came Thru Pullin’


Monday, June 15, 2020

Eric Hughes Sends Us a POSTCARD FROM BEALE STREET


I first encountered harmonica player and guitarist Eric Hughes when he read one of my reviews and contacted me. We have a number of mutual friends and one of those friends actually started his own record company, Endless Blues, and wouldn’t you know it, he signed Hughes up pretty quickly.
Hughes has backed a good number of musicians before stepping out on his own, going from talented sideman to talented front man. He has just released a new album, Postcard From Beale Street, an apropos title for him since he’s spent much of his career playing in pretty much every venue on that fabled stretch of land.
Hughes wrote all ten songs on the album, handled all the lead vocals, and played harmonica, guitar, jug, and percussion. You don’t hear too many good jug players anymore, but they used to be a staple for many of the early blues groups. Joining Hughes are Walter Hughes on guitar and backing vocals; Leo Goff on bass; Brian Aylor on drums and percussion; Rick Steff on keyboards; Marc Franklin on trumpet; Kirk Smothers on saxophone; and Executive Producer Mick Kolassa on tussolin, spoons, and backing exclamations.
I’m not afraid to admit that I had no idea what tussolin is, so, we’ll both learn something today – it’s a cough syrup. I can only imagine what was going on during the recording of this album…
The album starts off with Ain’t Whipped Yet, which is a great philosophy for anyone facing life to have. It’s a quick song, a little over 2:30 and bouncy as hell. I plan on dropping this one into a Time For The Blues show soon, add it to my personal playlist, and even listen to it every morning I wake up above dirt. Great way to start an album with the optimism this country is sorely lacking at the moment.
A New Orleans style marching band opens the next song, Oh, Booze!. It’s the autobiographical story of a man’s personal relationship with that elusive elixir. I’ve gone more than a few rounds with that liquid fire myself and have felt this way on many a morning after. Another quick song and shows a 180 degrees attitude from the opening tune. Love it…
If you like your blues a little heavier, then He’s Just An Alley Cat is a song just for you. Hughes injects a lot of humor into the number and to me anyway, the lyrics could be delivered by a stripped down front porch style as well as this Hendrix influenced manner. It works that well. Any of you ladies out there ever had an Alley Cat in your life? Here’s his anthem.
Follow Your Stupid Little Dreams is some good advice for anyone who wants to follow an artistic lifestyle. I think I’ll add it right behind I Ain’t Whipped Yet. It’s upbeat, optimistic, and nicely points out how there will always be people who want to knock you off your dream so you can be just like them. There’s nothing wrong with being normal, but if that’s not the direction for you, be you. Don’t worry about having a Plan B, just dedicate yourself to making Plan A work. End of sermon. Enjoy the song.
Next up is Homesick Angel, a lovely song that’s more Americana than blues. Hughes’ vocals are beautiful and the harmonies are transcendent. It’s a real departure from all of the previous songs and shows that he’s not just a one style pony. Very nice.
He follows up with a Chicago style Fair Weather Friends, using a horn section to punctuate the number. This could easily slip over into an R&B number – I certainly wouldn’t mind – and Hughes’ voice pulls just back from being hard edged. The guitar work is great as are the steady percussion. I probably won’t play it this time, but I sure like it.
Anyone of us who grew up in a rural setting will quickly fall under the spell of Blackberry Patch. This is some fine swampy playing and the story is one that we all know all too well. Hot days with not much to do, and that tantalizing fruit waiting for us to come bearing pails to take our fill and then some. I’m feeling very nostalgic right now to head back to the hills where I come from, even if that patch is long gone and now part of parking lot. Can’t beat progress, right?
Nice harp work opens the next song, Come See About Me. This is another that’s more Americana but blues, but shows off Hughes’ songwriting skills. He’s got a number of different styles and this one is evocative without being overly sentimental. Like it very much.
Up next is the wailing Waiting For That Day. It’s a good driving rocker that tells the story of anyone who wants to have that day when they can tell the boss to take this job and shove it. It’s an anthem for many, and this song encapsulates that dream. If you ever get discouraged, go back and play Follow Your Stupid Little Dreams. These two make a great double feature!
I’ve been told that the phrase 4:20 refers to an activity that’s still illegal in my state. I wouldn’t know. So, closing with It’s 4:20 Somewhere makes a great close for an album that espouses the philosophy of following dreams, being true to yourself, and not letting the so-called real world get you down. Yeah, this is a fun song and makes you feel good. This must be where Kolassa added his barking vocals!
Okay, Eric Hughes and friends have produced an album that is seriously fun while not skimping on lyrics. Sometimes when an artist goes for fun, the result turns silly after a few listens. That doesn’t happen with Postcard From Beale Street as Hughes runs a little more backbone in his songs.
The feel-good style mixes with a couple of laid back songs that fall just outside of the genre we might be expecting. I enjoy artists who refuse to write or play the same song over and over. Hughes is proving to be one of those artists and I truly look forward to hearing more from him soon.
Find out more information at his website here.