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Mitch Woods: Gumbo Blues

Club 88 Records

12 tracks: 32mins 31 secs

This CD is subtitled ‘A tribute to Smiley Lewis and the pioneers of New Orleans Rhythm and Blues’ and comes with a thanks from Mr Woods to Dave Bartholomew and Herb Hardesty to other stalwarts of the NO music scene for many years.

Smiley Lewis made his name laying down music that was later covered by others who had the hits: ‘I Hear You Knocking’ (hit for Dave Edmunds) and ‘One Night’ (hit for EP) spring to mind. The music consists of many originals written by Dave Bartholomew either alone or with co-writers, and Woods’ N’orlins tinged rumba/bogie based piano is well to the fore on most of them. The band consists of a terrific horn section (Herb Hardesty, Amadee Castenell and Brian Cayolle) with some excellent axe work from John Fohl (from the Dr John band). Cornell Williams on bass and Eric Bolivar on drums, fill out the rhythm section.

Listen out for the Cajun stomper ‘Big Mamou’ and the rocking ‘Bumpity Bump’ first recorded by Joe Turner and Wynonie Harris all those years ago. Outstanding tracks also include Bartholomew’s ‘Gumbo Blues’ and the wonderful (traditional) ‘Lil Liza Jane’.
Herb Hardesty was for many years a close associate of Fats Domino and here he (and the rest of the band) has a ball on the Domino show stopper ‘Blue Monday’ also first recorded by Lewis by Fats had the hit.

The CD booklet has the line that the musicians ‘…make [the} music sizzle like greasy onions, bell peppers and shrimp in an especially tasty po-boy’ and who am I to disagree with that assessment?

Reviewer Ian McKenzie lives in England. He is the editor of Blues In The South ( a monthly flier providing news, reviews, a gig guide and all kinds of other good stuff, for people living and going to gigs along the south coast of England. Ian is also a blues performer (see and has a web cast regular blues radio show on www.phonic.FM in Exeter (Wednesdays: 1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central).

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