|And naturally there were Swamp Pop classics, including a
rousing version of "Prisoner's Song" with Warren on vocals and
two Bobby Charles compositions--the aforementioned "Before I Grow Too Old" and his relatively recent, "I Don't Want To Know." In
fact, the program was as much a tribute to this underrated writer
of "Later Alligator," "Walking To New Orleans," and "But I Do" as
it was to Warren, himself. "You know, Bobby has agreed to lend us
a few of his brand new creations for our second CD, which is in
the offing," said longtime friend Warren.
And the Lil' Band O' Gold also did not disappoint the dancers
in the audience, who stuck around, maybe out of curiousity, after
the departure of Boozoo's Magic Sounds. Numbers such as Dewey
Balfa's "Parlez-Nous A Boire (Let's talk about drinking)" and an
updated rendition of Cajun patriarch Lawrence Walker's "Allons A
Lafayette" as "Allons Rock N' Roll (Let's go rock and roll)
allowed Steve Riley to ably demonstrate his prodigious skills
with the accordion.
But there were also completely new and fresh entrees on that
day's menu, two slow ballads both penned (along with Buddy Flett)
and sung by pianist David Egan--"First You Cry" and "Even Now."
The former appeared on Percy Sledge's ( "When A Man Loves A Woman") Virgin/Point Blank venture of 1993, Blue Night, a CD that was nominated for a Grammy that year as Best Contemporary Blues
Album. And it too received recognition at the Handys in Memphis,
winning awards in two categories--Best Comeback and Best Soul
Blues album. The late Johnny Adams, the self-styled Tan Canary of
New Orleans, saw fit to include "Even Now" on his last Rounder
CD, Man Of My Word, released just weeks before he died in 1998
and the song also is part of a later compilation on Rounder, a
best of Johnny Adams.
"How did we sound?" asked C.C. backstage after the
performance, who also contributed his bittersweet "In Another
Time," which was co-written by Willy DeVille.
"Awesome, as usual," I responded. Nonetheless, I had to be
honest. It wasn't a flawless performance and he knew it too.
"But there were times when I thought the band was a little too
busy for its own good with all those instruments competing with
each other. And even the sound man couldn't sort it all out," I
"That's the chance you take with any large orchestra. I guess
we strive for what I call 'white noise,' a wall of sound in
perfect harmony and sync. But, sometimes, like you said, we get
just noise," he said with a knowing grin.
It would have been great to hang out with this crew
exchanging stories over a few beers into the wee hours. But,
after all, this was Sunday and it was a two-hour drive back to
Baltimore. I kept thinking of the lyrics of the Smiley Lewis
tune, "Blue Monday ( Imp 5268)." "Monday morning my head was
bad, but it was worth it for the fun that I had." But, I must be
getting old, turning down a chance to party with such great
musicians and raconteurs.
But later I discovered that they, as well, had promises to
keep. When I next called Warren for an interview with regard to
the Lil' Band O' Gold, I found out why it had been so difficult
to reach him this past year. In fact, he had just returned from a
Texas trip with stops in Austin at the Continental Club and in
Houston, where he had an engagement at the annual Accordion
Festival in Herman Park. "Did I ever tell you about our West
Coast swing, when we played San Diego's Street Scene jamboree,
the Cajun Festival in Semi Valley, and in Yosemite Park? How
about Denver's Blues N' Bones shindig?" he said.
"Anything on the horizon?" I asked.
"Come to think of it, since we didn't cover the Mid-West yet,
we're soon going on a tour which puts us in St. Louis, Chicago,
and Detroit. And, maybe, we'll cross the Canadian border. I'm not
sure about that one," he said.
And it was all truly amazing. A road trip to Warren used to
mean Lake Charles at G.G.'s club, 70 miles west down I-10 or the
Boom Town Casino and JazzFest in New Orleans (where the Lil'
Band has been on the slate three times already), a hundred miles
east on the same turnpike--three venues he still accepts. But now
this "homeboy" is regularly traversing the nation. I now have to
consult with him prior to visiting to make sure that he's in
"You know what they say, Larry. Better late than never,"
said Warren, emphatically. I then wondered about his age and the
wear and tear on his body, etc. And he quickly responded, "I
don't know when all of this is going to end. But I can tell you
one thing. Right now, I'm sure enjoying the ride."
Photo: Larry B.
Photo: Larry B.
Photo: Larry B.
Photo: Larry B.
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