Walter Jr. - The River Club
1l original tracks; 45 minutes 48 secs; Meritable
Styles: Blues, Contemporary-Soul-Fusion Cajun style but not….
The River Club is a Walter Jr. producer-singer-songwriter work of eleven original compositions with the setting being deep down Louisiana Blues and lingo mixed with some contemporary spiritual fusion twists. Walter Jr. is on vocals and guitar, Michael Burch is on drums and David Ranson is on Bass. Sonny Landreth is featured on track 11 "He Holds The Lightning". The CD was recorded by Ivan Klisanin, mixed by Johnny Sandlin and mastered by Jonathan Russell. Cover art and design is by Megan Barra with photography by Philip Gould.
The title track 1, The River Club, starts with a drum solo, followed by Walter’s Telecaster, and finally his story about some hoochie coochie mama who came into The River Club. Catchy fun little ditty with some cool guitar licks to finish out the song and story. By the way, I MUST give you the so-fitting urban definition of ‘hootchie cootchie’ which is:
“A meaning derived from the French "couche,"
past part of "coucher" which means "to lay down." The
Hootchy-Kootchy (Hoochi-Coochi) or Cooch dance is a pseudo-Turkish,
sensual dance executed only by women in short skirts, bare midriffs
and tight breastbands, which is said to have originated at the
Philadelphia Centennial Fair (May-Nov-1876.)
Ha! Now ya’ know. And perfect, since Walter Jr. would know all about a French influence, wouldn’t you think?
Track 2 Sugarhouse Road starts out reminding of a slower Slim Harpo Shake Your Hips version or even the more contemporary bluesy Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing by Chris Isaak. Walter’s Louisiana dialect for pronouncing Sugarhouse as Sugarhow threw me at first, but hey, this CD’s packaging includes the song lyrics, which I’m always appreciate of.
Track 3 is What She Want. To give you just a taste of some of the words to a risqué song about a risqué woman who’s gone bad—“she don’t wear no drawers, she got the credit card she take it to the max, she don’t even ask, she never really behave like I say she should, she got to be real bad to be so damn good.” Guys (ahem, and ladies with power), you know the type…apparently Walter Jr. does too….
Track 4 may actually move your emotions if you’re solo and chillin’, in for the night. I confess I felt a sad and lonely blues cloud set right down on me (this feeling is welcomed among our blues community) and Walter’s story is so true, as the name of the song suggests, You Never Make It Up. Once you make a woman cry or break her heart, you never make it up. Hey guys, listen up, Walter will get you straight! You tell ‘em Walter.
Track 5 What I Was Missing starts out to be another slow atonal heart breaker, but then quickly picks up the beat. Track 6 is Down the Bayou with more traditional blues guitar and rifts. Track 7 Something Something is a funky Cajun ‘a go-go blues tune with some down home Louisiana gumbo, salsa, crawfish lyrical licks…followed by Track 8 Sweet Potato Pie to continue the food theme. Seems like blues has always liked the play on words with culinary innuendos.
In Track 9 She’s My Baby Now, we jump to an entirely different genre of music, I wouldn’t say it was blues, or that all the vocal notes were exactly on key but I appreciated that Walter’s got soul and wants to mix it up a bit with an alternative pop sound. In Track 10 Jesus Say, we get a few opener type big chord strokes, like we’re about to see the beginning of an epic outdoor concert start (or Moses about to part the Red Sea)…then we hear Walter’s narrative intro to Jesus Say, set to a quick blues-rock tune while he tells us Jesus Say Blessed Are the Meek, Blessed are the Peace makers, Blessed are etc, but Everybody Else Can Just Go to Hell (hey, why does The Devil Went Down to Georgia come to mind?). Don’t be too thin skinned, it’s actually pretty funny because Jesus blesses us all, really, so there’s really no one left to go to hell, is there? OK, yes, this one’s a little odd, but don’t we all have our religious demons that pop out every now and then in our music? Certainly religion and root-blues music married a long time ago before Walter put it together.
The CD concludes with yet another somewhat spiritual slow melancholy moving guitar solo He Holds the Lightening. This is a somewhat more contemporary new age sound apparently drawn from Job 37: 1-15 as inspiration. Finally at the end of the CD it strikes me that Walter’s unique gravely song voice sometimes reminds me of Leon Russell but with a just a bit more rustic and off-key “I gotta be me” quality. Hey, check it out for yourself, and let me know what you think.
Belinda Foster is a Columnist and Contributing Writer for Greenville SC Magazine “Industry Mag” and was former manager of Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’Blues. She currently books blues-rock-jam musicians and is a devoted promoter and support of live blues root music and history, making frequent trips to “The Crossroads” and Clarksdale Mississippi, birthplace of the blues. Her column “The Upstate Blues Report can be found on line at www.industrymag.net