Hardly have we savoured the full taste of “Rhythm ’n’ Bluesin’ By The Bayou” than here comes another bucketful of steaming South Louisiana gumbo and this time it’s “Bluesin’ By The Bayou” – a spicy mix of guitars, harmonicas, and even the occasional accordion, accompanying those tales of despair or machismo that are the recipe for the blues. All the tracks stem from the studios of J.D. Miller in Crowley and Eddie Shuler in Lake Charles. These two men were wonders at spotting talent and getting the best out of the performers, as illustrated on the 28 tracks on this CD.
The second “Bluesin’” volume in the “By The Bayou” series concentrates on musicians from South Louisiana and South East Texas discovered and recorded by J.D. Miller and Eddie Shuler. These two giants of the post-war recording scene were supreme talent-spotters. They knew the sounds that appealed to the local record-buying public, their target audience. What they couldn’t have known, or even guessed at in their wildest fantasies, was that the appeal of their recordings would last so long and encompass the globe.
Letting the good times roll again, with this second visit to the dynamic South Louisiana R&B scene there is no waver in the quality of music. We’ve added the work of another Louisiana record man, Sam Montel from Baton Rouge, to the vast stockpile of material in the vaults of J.D. Miller, Eddie Shuler, Floyd Soileau and Jake Graffagnino. Sam (originally Montalbano) got into the music business when his childhood friend Jimmy Clanton hit the charts. Sam became his road manager and the whole scene got into his blood. He decided to start his own record label when only 18 years old. His first release, Lester Robertson’s ‘My Girl Across Town’, is included here, as is a previously unissued outing from Robertson.
Raw blues gems trawled from the swamps of South Louisiana, plus a touch of zydeco. Ten tracks are previously unreleased or alternate takes, while the other 18 are extremely rare. Baton Rouge was arguably the blues centre of Louisiana and just about all of the artists featured in this compilation spent part of their lives there. Long-time favourites Lightnin’ Slim, Lazy Lester, Slim Harpo and Silas Hogan certainly honed their skills in its clubs and bars, although they travelled some 70 miles west to record at J.D. Miller’s studio in Crowley. Everything here emanated from Miller’s studio or from his close rival Eddie Shuler’s facility in Lake Charles, except series newcomer Chris Kenner’s track, which was cut in New Orleans. Other artists new to the series are Henry Gray, Juke Boy Bonner, Elton Anderson, Ramblin’ Hi Harris and Schoolboy Cleve.
In the years following her acclaimed 2011 LP Queen of the Minor Key, Americana singer/songwriter Eilen Jewell relocated cross-country from Boston back to her hometown of Boise, Idaho, gave birth to a daughter, released a double live album, and still found the time to record what might be the most succinct and poignant album of her career. The retro country, blues, folk, and Western noir that have long made up her palette are all still present, but there's a relaxed feeling to 2015's Sundown Over Ghost Town that suggests Jewell has reached a confident place in both career and life. Maybe it's the homecoming to a setting better suited to her lonesome, high desert sound or maybe it's simply the passage of time colored by recent motherhood, but songs like "Worried Mind," "Half-Broke Horse," and "Songbird" have a wistful country-folk purity that feels earned by years and experience.