Hello friends, first allow me to thank you all for supporting my music, films and concert tours over the years. I would like to share some new information regarding some of my latest projects. I’m very excited to let you know my long awaited new album is nearing completion and should be officially released on my label, 21st Century Blues Records, in November. Its been a few years since my last album — do they still call them albums?
My plan for the project was very ambitious. I originally wanted to release a 100 song album of new songs. It would’ve been the first of its kind. So far, I’ve only completed around 70 tunes. As many of you know, I would never include music I deemed unworthy, so in my humble opinion, there is no filler. Which means, that, in order to complete my 100 song album it would take at least another year. I know you didn’t want to wait that long. Neither did I. Therefore, the digital version may include up to 30 tracks. I will also release a physical CD, and a double vinyl album featuring between 18 and 22 songs.
My band, Jeff Mills (drums) and Danny Infante (bass), appear on several tracks along with several of the hottest musicians in New Orleans. For those of you who are electric guitar lovers, I dusted off my Marshall amps for some good old rocking blues tones. My fender stratocaster was plugged into a Fender Deluxe amp for that classic spring reverb tone on several straight ahead blues arrangements, “Have You Seen My Princess” an original, and the Freddy King classic, “Have You Ever Loved A Woman.” My Orange Amp distorts nicely on a few tracks too, actually, I think the Orange provided my personal favorite tones on the album.
Those of you that have seen my live show recently, have heard me play and sing a piano set. There will be a piano suite within the new album. I wrote a new song “Tabby’s on the Bayou” about those nights at Tabby’s Blues Box, my dads ramshackle juke joint, before it was razed by the city of Baton Rouge in 1999. I pay tribute to my good friend, piano legend Henry Gray, who at 89 is still making it do what it do!
The piano suite was record at the Shed in New Orleans. I played an upright piano and did most of the vocals live. If I recall correctly, most of the tunes were one take affairs. I covered a great piano ballad by Leon Russell, “A Song For You,” Leon is a wonderful lyricist. Some of you may know the song as a Donny Hathaway tune. I covered Adele’s “Some One Like You,” in a no frills arrangement. Some folks will be surprised by this cover. But one shouldn’t be. Ray Charles, one of my heroes, recorded all types of songs simply because they were great ones. Same with Louis Armstrong and so many others. Anyone remember Mile’s version of “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper? I rounded out the piano suite with an original honky-tonk blues, “One Strong Beer.”
I’m off to tour Norway and Finland this week, therefore, post production will be put on hold — that’s one reason it has taken so long, I’m on the road a lot lately. When I return I plan to complete an acoustic slide guitar suite to complete the album.
My long time fans will hear me introduce a new featured instrument, the clarinet. 100 years ago the clarinet was an essential solo instrument in New Orleans blues. I thought it’s about time it was reintroduced. These days I prefer the clarinet as a solo horn — nothing against the harmonica — but the clarinet says New Orleans blues. I feature two clarinetists over the course of the album. The opening track “The Blues Was Born In Louisiana,” another original, perhaps best illustrates what I wanted to express using the clarinet. New Orleans really is the birthplace of the blues and New Orleans blues is Saturday Night music. It puts a smile on your face; it makes you want to move.
King Bolden, King Keppard, King Oliver, and Jelly Roll Morton, established the first dynastic period of Nola blues. I hope that after you have had a chance to experience my new album (yet untitled) you will agree that a new Nola blues dynasty is long over due. Yes, I hope to reintroduce the world to this music, but not in a conventional way, you know me, I have to play it forward.