- Professor Louie & The Crowmatix
- Soul Blues
It took a couple listens to figure out just what made the latest album from Professor Louie & The Crowmatix such a hoot to listen to – but I finally did. The key to the joy of the new Soul Blues can be summed up by the tracks that bookend it: “A Few Hours” (a Crowmatix original) and “Baby Don’t You Do It” (a Holland/Dozier/Holland tune that you may know best from The Band’s classic cover version).
“A Few Hours” gets things cooking with a little blast of snazzy-ass drum by Gary Burke before everybody – including guests The Rock Of Ages Horns – piles on. The next 4 minutes and 18 seconds are a neat mix of New Orleans slippery hipness and funky soul that meshes perfectly into a big ol’ head-nodding groove that you can feel good about shaking your butt to no matter how many grey hairs you do or don’t have.
On the other end of the album you’ll find “Baby Don’t You Do It” – true to the spirit of The Band while finding its own blend of cool and raunch with horns a’bellowing, Frank Campbell’s bass rump-wumping against the drums, a guitar solo that’s absolutely n-a-s-t-y and Professor Louie’s keys lighting a flame under the whole works.
The two tunes are totally different songs, but the common thread is that thing that has long made Woodstock, NY America’s musical mecca: there are no borders; no zip codes; no labels – just songs, boys and girls. The Mississippi might deposit everything it’s gathered up in the Delta region, but this country’s music has a way of drifting towards upstate New York, where it’s received with open arms and open minds. Maybe nobody gets rich (though they deserve to), but everybody goes home with a smile.
That thing that helped birth the music created within the walls of Big Pink? That vibe that infused the wood of Levon Helm’s Barn? That’s the same stuff that has fueled Professor Louie & The Crowmatix’ sound since the beginning and still does to this day on Soul Blues. There’s funkiness supreme (check out the bellowing ‘bone on the Tom Malone-penned “Tired Of The Blues”); sweet and raucous testifying by The Crowmatix’ Miss Marie (“Runnin’ Out” is fierce; “Someone” is packed with longing); and blues you can use (“Next Time You See Me” is made for wide-grinned give-and-take with the horns; Professor Louie’s keys keep the edge sharp on “Ain’t No Fun To Me”). “That’s Alright” takes its slow and sexy time telling you that it’s alright … if you end up needing to mop your brow afterwards, well, that’s your problem, buster. And you could take some of those tasty keyboard runs woven all through “Some Bad News”, put ‘em in a Mason jar, and label the whole thing “Cream Of Blues” – you’d be right on.
Fads and trends come and go, but the music rooted in the Woodstock scene is as solid and real as the stuff we all think and feel. Thank Christ that Professor Louie & The Crowmatix are out there doing what they’re doing.
Brian Robbins keeps his Mason jars on a shelf at www.brian-robbins.com