Song of the Week – Cover Girl & You Might Say, Browning Bryant


This weekend marks the 8th Anniversary of the SotW. Thank you for you continued support and feedback. It inspires me to keep on keepin’ on.

Back in November, shortly after Allen Toussaint died, music industry critic Bob Lefsetz dedicated one of his blog posts to his favorite Toussaint covers. It was a comprehensive list of great recordings.

A few weeks ago he posted this response by the great Al Kooper from his “mailbag.”

Subject: Re: Re-Allen Toussaint

Missa Lefsetz

I was kinda surprised that no one mentioned a rare WB album that Allen produced in the early 70’s self-titled it was called “Browning Bryant”. A young white kid who totally understood New Orleans musica. The opening track has always been one of my fave AT compositions. I told him so when we met at a concert in NYC where each act played just one Dylan song. It was about 8 years ago. I told him I loved that Browning Bryant track he wrote called “Cover Girl.” I wondered if he still recalled it. He started singing it to me and I joined in and we laughed. That was one of my favorite bump-into-somebody-you-cherish moments. Have a listen – Ya might like it.

Since I’d never heard of Browning Bryant I immediately did some research, besides listening to “Cover Girl.”

I learned that “Cover Girl” wasn’t the only Toussaint song Bryant recorded. I fact, his 1974 album had 11 cuts – 3 originals and 8 written by Toussaint! Further, the album was produced by Toussaint and used the New Orleans based R&B group The Meters as Bryant’s backing band.

Also of note, the 6’5” Bryant was only 15 years old when the recording began. I was shocked that I missed an album of this quality for all these years, so I’m presenting a second song this week – “You Might Say.”

If you liked Boz Scaggs’ Silk Degrees, this will be right up your alley.

Thanks to Al Kooper for exposing me (us) to this great, obscure artist and album. But this should come as no surprise since Koop has been doing this for a long time. In fact I’d recommend you check out his podcasts called New Music for Old People.

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – Brickyard Blues, Frankie Miller


If you’re even a casual music fan (and you’re more than that if you’re reading this) you already heard that Allen Toussaint died last Monday, November 9th.

Toussaint, the legendary New Orleans musician, songwriter and producer, was responsible for many of the most important songs in the canon of rock and soul.

The list goes on and on. Here are a few of the most important and memorable.

Mother-in-Law – Ernie K-Doe
Working on a Coal Mine – Lee Dorsey, Devo
Ooh Poo Pah Doo – Jesse Hill
Southern Nights – Glen Campbell
Java – Al Hirt
Fortune Teller – The Who, The Rolling Stones and many others
What Do You Want the Girl (Boy) To Do – Boz Scaggs, Lowell George, Bonnie Raitt
A Certain Girl – The Yardbirds, Warren Zevon
Yes We Can Can – The Pointer Sisters

… and there are so many more.

Today’s SotW is another one of his great compositions – “Brickyard Blues.” This is another song that’s been recorded by many groups. “Brickyard Blues” was covered by Maria Muldaur, Levon Helm, B.J. Thomas and Three Dog Night (as “Play Something Sweet”). But my favorite is by the Scottish, white soul singer, Frankie Miller.

Maybe I’m partial to Miller’s version because it came from the album High Life (1974) that was produced by Toussaint and included renditions of seven of his songs. My first exposure to it came from the Warner Brothers “Loss Leader” album, Deep Ear. (Remember? You could send a couple bucks into Warner’s marketing department and they’d send you back a two disc sampler.)

Miller was a musician’s musician. His songs were covered from everyone from Etta James to Johnny Cash. Heck, Ray Charles recorded Miller’s “I Can’t Change It!” Otis Redding’s widow Zelma said of Miller “That little ole white boy has the blackest voice since Otis.”

Unfortunately Miller never had the level of success he deserved. In 1994, as he was planning a comeback with Joe Walsh, he suffered a brain aneurysm in New York. He was in a coma for five months, lost his speech and some ability to move, and racked up huge medical expenses (he was uninsured).

But we can still have his work with Toussaint to enjoy.

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – Skokiaan – Kermit Ruffin, Lupita – The Iguanas, Java – Allen Toussaint, I Walk On Gilded Splinters – Dr. John

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A few weeks ago I went to New Orleans for their annual Jazz Fest. Although I’ve been to the Crescent City several times before it’s been a good 15 years since my last visit – long overdue.

I must be honest, at the Jazz Fest itself I didn’t get to hear as much local music as I had hoped. I arrived a little late each day and then focused my attention on the major acts on the big (Accura) stage where a couple of my favorites were performing – Springsteen and Arcade Fire. Both did terrific sets.

But the festival ends early (7 PM) each day and that provides ample opportunity to go out to the clubs to hear more good music. One night we went to the Rock ‘n’ Bowl where we saw Kermit Ruffin (a local legend and star on HBO’s hit series Treme) as the opening act.

Next on was another New Orleans band, The Iguanas.

The Iguanas sound like Los Lobos relocated to New Orleans, especially their emphasis on Spanish language folk songs and Latin rhythms… and that ain’t bad.

Another night we had tickets to see the Dr. John Tribute Concert. This one night only performance featured a “who’s who” of New Orleans musician royalty (Dirty Dozen Horns, Chief Monk Boudreaux, Cyril Neville, Irma Thomas) and a long list of other prominent rock & R&B stars (Warren Haynes, John Fogarty, Mavis Staples, Jimmie Vaughn, Chuck Leavell) too. (Gregg Allman and Lucinda Williams were no-shows.) Don Was acted as the musical director.

Springsteen made a surprise appearance and opened the festivities on “Right Place, Wrong Time” – the good Dr. accompanying him on piano. Allen Toussaint performed his own song of “Life”, a version of which Dr. John released on his In the Right Place album.

Here’s Toussaint’s instrumental “Java” made famous by Al Hirt with a Grammy award winning hit (#4, 1963). The Toussaint original recording comes off a very rare album from 1958 that I have a copy of called The Wild Sound of New Orleans (credited simply to Tousan).

Dr. John closed out the set, playing piano and singing on a few of his most well-known songs. My favorite was “I Walk On Gilded Splinters” from his classic Gris Gris album. Sarah Morrow did a trombone solo that was as swampy and spooky as the original Gris Gris recording here.

The concert was filmed and will come out on DVD later this year. When it does, be sure to check it out.

Enjoy… until next week.