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Rained on Rooster
Rooster CD Review
July 30, 2018
Format: Audio CD
SLIM BAWB – ROOSTER Swampgrass, 10/27/2017
Both present and future Slim Bawb disciples will be spiritually and musically rapturous upon hearing his latest album, “Rooster,” a generous 14-track set of all-but-one original tunes, impeccably produced, deftly performed, and brimming with wit and wisdom in the Slim Bawb tradition of excellence that his legions of fans have come to expect. In fact, you’d be spinning your pick-up’s wheels if you tried to find a more entertaining and satisfying collection of Cajun-baked, Texas-tendered, footstompin’, swampedelic roots music in the neck of any woods.
Slim Bawb’s latest recording with the Fabulous Stumpgrinders features Lil’ Howard Yeargan on accordion, harmonica and keys, and marks the return of drummer/percussionist Ron Sherrod, who was last heard beating out the rhythms on Bawb’s 2012 album “Pardon Me” before handing the drumming and percussing duties to Jay Warren and the late James “Gator Bait” Curry respectively on the last two records.
Bawb’s modus operandi has always been to “keep it Cajun,” and he makes good on that M.O. from the Git Go, rallying his front line followers with “Second Line Fever,” a funky, mid-tempo wiggler inspired by and in honor of his long-time friend and musical partner, James “Gator Bait” Curry, who played with Bawb on and off since the California days.
In fact, Bawb had no plan to release a new album at the time, but upon writing “Second Line Fever” the creative fluids were spilling and uncontainable. While preparing to hit the road with Louisiana singer-songwriter Steve Judice for their “Senior Golf and Music Tour,” the two managed to write four songs together and behold, an album was in the making.
Among the Judice/Bawb collaborative compositions is the title track, “Rooster,” prefaced by an assured, cocky crow that audibly visualizes the lyrical theme of self-confidence (or lack of). Lil’ Howard’s squeezebox propels the song in leisurely fashion, while Bawb confesses “I may strut like a rooster when I’m feelin’ all confident, but you get up on my cage and make me wonder where my confidence went.” Yes, sometimes the right ego-deflater will leave you barking out the backside of yer beek.
The etiquettely correct “Proper Thing To Do” is patented Slim Bawb front porch funk, driven by Sherrod’s solid backbeat and embellished with blasts and wails from Lil’ Howard’s harmonica. The barn-dance epic “Comment Ca Va” transports the listener to a timeless celebratory hoedown. But before you get off your dancing feet you’ll be U-turning back to the floor for the Bo Diddley-meets-Little Feat funky, rhythm-fortified “Like She Do.”
Ringing bells, rumbling thunder and flood warning broadcasts introduce the upbeat-in-the-face-of-danger country gospel chant, “Build the Foundation,” inspired by recent floods in Texas. On the endside, a brass band chugs down the road (or are they in a fishing boat?).
Lil’ Howard wrote and sings the hoedown-friendly “Hotel Mini Bar,” a love song from a happy overnight lodger to the beloved box of beer and booze kindly situated in his room. “Earl” is an uber-uptempo banjo/accordion roller coaster ride, dedicated to Earl Scruggs by way of Bawb’s dog, the Duke of Earl Scruggs, with dog barks and people hollering “Earl” contributing to the percussive rhythm.
“Promises Written In Wine” is a steady-rollin’ country blues with rich harmony vocals. The Meters’ classic “Fire On the Bayou” is the only cover tune, a nearly faithful rendering save for the unavoidable string and percussion treatment commonly known as the signature Slim Bawb Sound. Lil’ Howard returns to the microphone for “Stumpgrinder,” a celebration of the ageless art of tree-clearing.
The swamp funker “How You Do It” features more of Bawb’s impeccable slide guitar and the most inspired harmonica-blowing by Lil’ Howard’s on this 14-track monster album.
“K No Bawb Today” recalls the true story of a radio station that gave Bawb the cold shoulder when he tried to persuade them to play his music. He responded with this good-natured song with a title that plays on the station’s call letters. It’s safe to say that you probably won’t be hearing any Slim Bawb on that particular frequency.
Bawb and the ‘grinders wrap this one with a straight-up blues tune called “Rained On Rooster.” The title came from a sports radio announcer’s description of a disgruntled player on a losing team. Nothing like a first-class loser song to bring a masterpiece to its conclusion.
“Rooster” belongs in every music lover’s library, and while you’re in the purchase mode, I highly recommend that you pick up the entire Slim Bawb catalog as well. Nary a sour note, wasted word or disposable song exists within the boundaries of his amazing collective contribution to the arts. And still no word on the release of a Slim Bawx multi-unit retrospective of his work.
KVMR Community Radio
Nevada City, CA