Sunday, February 4, 2024

The Groove Krewe: “Blues From The Bayou EP” (2023) CD Review

The Groove Krewe is a group led by three studio musicians who write original music and have different vocalists join them on their releases to sing the material. Their 2022 debut album, Run To Daylight, featured Nick Daniels III on vocals. And their latest release, Blues From The Bayou EP, features Jonathan “Boogie” Long as their vocalist (he also does some guitar solos and fills). The disc contains all original material, written by those three band members – Rex Pearce, Nelson Blanchard and Dale Murray. Rex Pearce plays guitar, Nelson Blanchard plays keyboards and guitar. Dale Murray is on percussion. The three of them also produced the album. Vocalist and guitarist Jonathon “Boogie” Long won the 2011 Guitar Center “King Of The Blues” award for best unsigned blues artist, and put out his first album soon after that. In 2019, he was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame.

The disc opens with “Ain’t No If About It,” written by Rex Pearce and Nelson Blanchard. It is a fun number that includes the horn section of Jason Parfait and Ian Smith. In this delightful love song, Jonathon “Boogie” Long proclaims, “If you were the morning, baby, I’d be up at dawn.” He then tells us there is no if about it. May everyone have a love he or she is so sure of. Jonathon “Boogie” Long delivers a strong, raw vocal performance. This rollicking number makes us feel like we’re at a great blues bar, where everyone is dancing and drinking without a thought for tomorrow. Nelson Blanchard, in addition to guitar and keyboard, plays bass on this track, and Eddie Bayers is on drums. That’s followed by “Lightnin’ Done Struck Again,” written by Rex Pearce, Nelson Blanchard and Dale Murray. And now the relationship has gotten into trouble. The man has been cheating, and the woman has learned about it. “I swore I didn’t have wandering eyes/Her stormy voice said you’ve been telling lies/She got wind of my running around/There ain’t no secrets in this delta town.” She understandably tells him it’s over. He sings, “Dark clouds follow me, you know it’s true,” but, let’s face it, his cheating is the problem. It isn’t until he tells us “She found somebody new/And it’s my best friend” that we can honestly side with this guy. Because that is just wrong, no matter what preceded it. David Hyde is on bass, delivering some good stuff, and that horn section again adds some nice work.

On “Dangerous Curves,” the horn section delivers some delicious stuff right from the start. The dangerous curves Jonathon Long is singing about here are not those of a road, but the alluring shape of a woman. And what’s wonderful is that the band continues the driving analogy throughout the track, and it works. “I can’t slow down around those tempting curves/Some fools never put their foot on the brakes/The straight and narrow is a hard way to go/Keep your hands on the wheel, and your eyes on the road.” And I love the backing vocals echoing “Dangerous curves.” Nelson Blanchard and Elaine Foster provide backing vocals on this disc. This track also features some cool work on keys. This song was written by Rex Pearce, Nelson Blanchard and Terry Duncan. It’s followed by “Empty Pocket Blues.” What, a blues song about being poor? Sure thing. And while this is a popular blues topic, the songs addressing it usually work, and I suppose that is because people are always struggling. And with rent soaring these days, this song certainly speaks to us. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “I’ve got worn-out clothes and holes in my shoes/Running out of money, I could use some good news/The cost of living’s high, but my earnings are low/I need to hit the lottery just to pay what I owe.” Yup, sounds about right. And music like this helps us deal with these troubles. Hey, we may be broke, but we can still dance. And again, the backing vocalists echo the title line, adding to the song’s joy. There is also some wonderful stuff on guitar. This song was written by Rex Pearce and Nelson Blanchard. The disc then concludes with “Eclipsed By Love,” written by Rex Pearce. This one also has a horn section, this time made up of Pete Verbois, Bobby Campo and Chris Belleau. The track also features a strong, mean groove and a powerful vocal performance. Tony Haselden plays guitar on this track, Leon Medica is on bass, and Dave Peters is on drums.

CD Track List

  1. Ain’t No If About It
  2. Lightnin’ Done Struck Again
  3. Dangerous Curves
  4. Empty Pocket Blues
  5. Eclipsed By Love

Blues From The Bayou EP was released on August 1, 2023.

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