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| Spencer Thomas - GULF COAST CHARMS |
New Swamp Classics? This CD is a must for the fan of Texas Blues, Gulf Coast R&B, and Swamp Pop music. Austin blues singer and songwriter Spencer Thomas teams up with the Golden Triangle’s finest musicians for this guitar driven tour de force of Texas - Louisiana Roadhouse R&B. Inspired by the region’s unique merging of musical strains, “Gulf Coast Charms” captures the simple, spontaneous energy that is the hallmark of the Gulf Coast dancehall way of life. Thomas, the former front man and vocalist of The Solid Senders, shines in this spur-of-the-moment session that was recorded at the Port Arthur studio of Floyd Badeaux.
The guitar work of Spencer’s Austin band mate, Michael Holt, and Beaumont’s Little Ray Ybarra hold the record to a meat and potatoes Texas Blues groove, while Mark Solis peppers things up with his honky-tonk piano. Port Arthur native and harmonica master, Paul Orta also makes a guest appearance, lending his Gulf Coast Charm to the mix. The rock-solid rhythm section of Paul Choate and Albert Storo underpin the album with that dance groove essential – The Texas Big Beat.
“Gulf Coast Charms” kicks off with a swamp-pop romp from the Excello vaults - Lonesome Sundown’s “I Had A Dream Last Night”, and careens through three originals that bring to mind The Fabulous T-Birds, Frankie Ford, T-Bone Walker, and Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson. Solis lends a Prof. Longhair treatment to Austin songwriter, Kathy Murray’s “Bird In The Hand”, which is followed by a remake of Toussaint McCall’s classic ballad “Nothing Takes The Place Of You”. Holt then cuts loose on Magic Sam’s boogaloo “You Belong To Me” and Little Ray lays down a country rhythm for the obscure “Wine Head Baby” by Lazy Slim Jim (aka Eddie Harris). Thomas rips up his original swamp pop slow dance “Tears In The Wishin’ Well” before everybody gets a workout on the funky vamp “I’m So Tired”. The album wraps up with BB King’s classic blues stroll “I Wonder Why”.
For Thomas “Gulf Coast Charms” represents a personal pilgrimage to the home of his musical roots. As a player on the Austin blues scene since the mid-eighties, the central Texas native was inspired by artists of the Antone’s music family, like Marcia Ball, Jimmie Vaughan, Doug Sahm, and Kent ‘Omar’ Dykes, who drew heavily from the music of the Gulf Coast in developing The Austin Sound. Backtracking to the artists who had, in turn, inspired them, Spencer discovered Lazy Lester, Lightnin’ Slim, Tommy McLain, Rod Bernard and the whole world of music that came out of the swamps of South Louisiana and the Texas Coast. Spencer was mesmerized by this music, novel yet familiar, and came under the influence of its “Gulf Coast Charms”.
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