Mitch Woods is easily one of the finest boogie
pianists on the planet, and I would argue that he also
incorporates wing-dinging swing, jumping blues, and
gut-rocking rhythm & blues fury at its best. So we in
New Orleans are especially proud that he has chosen
to devote so much of his mega talents in honoring
the great music and musicians of our city. He and the
crack local musicians make that music sizzle like greasy
onions, bell peppers, and shrimp for an especially tasty
From the first notes of GUMBO BLUES,those who
ever heard old-time New Orleans blues and r&b knows
they are in the EZ Chair of funky good times...and that’s
not to say La-Z-Boy! In New Orleans we take our fun
seriously! It takes years of hard work to perfect a perfect
cradle of butt-bumping, beer-sloshing celebrating, and
for non-natives capturing that magic is even harder.
But Mitch Woods has pitched hip-switching around
the globe many times. And one of his favorite stops is
the Big Easy, where he visits often and is an adopted
favorite son. .
On GUMBO BLUES Mitch devotes the entire CD
to New Orleans’ undeservedly forgotten master of
shouting jump blues, Smiley Lewis, who is best known
for having recorded the original versions of other
peoples’ hits—namely Dave Edmunds’ “I Hear You Knocking,” Elvis Presley’s “One Night,” and Fats Domino’s “Blue Monday.” As the
author of the (box set) biography on Smiley Lewis, I can attest to Mitch’s remarkably authentic revival of his music, with all of super
tight musicianship and manic explosive intensity that marked Dave Bartholomew’s finest sessions. No one could ever duplicate
Smiley’s weird foghorn voice, but Mitch’s muscular vocal cords make the songs very much his own.
Fats Domino’s right-hand tenor man for over 60 years, Herbert Hardesty appears here, along with two young stallion
saxophone standbys of Allen Toussaint’s band (who also appeared on his tour with Elvis Costello), Amadee Castenell and Brian
“Breeze” Cayolle; they split the solos between them. Other New Orleans men here include Dr. John’s guitarist John Fohl, Jon
Cleary’s bassist Cornell Williams and Bonerama (brass-hop anyone?) drummer Eric Bolivar.
In short, if this music doesn’t move you Jack, you dead!