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| posted on 4/7/2007 at 02:56 PM|
|I first met Joe Krown in New Orleans about four years ago at the House of Blues when he opened for the Neville Brothers. Good guy, and he used to sit in the keyboard chair for the late Gatemouth Brown;|
BACK TO THE GARDEN
Joe Krown Trio taps into the healing power of Professor Longhair, James Booker and Fats Domino
Friday, April 06, 2007
By Keith Spera
In those first few months after Hurricane Katrina, keyboardist Joe Krown marveled at audiences' heightened response to well-worn New Orleans standards.
"People were crying," Krown said. "It was a very emotional thing, to come back into the city for the first time, see your home, then go hear a band and we cut into a version of 'Junko Partner' or 'St. James Infirmary.' All of a sudden it had a different meaning to everybody.
"And it had a different meaning for me, too. The city was almost washed out to sea. We were very close to having lost it all."
On his new "Old Friends" CD, Krown, guitarist Brint Anderson and drummer Mike Barras revisit Professor Longhair's "Tipitina," James Booker's "Junko Partner," Fats Domino's "My Blue Heaven," Benny Spellman's "Lipstick Traces" and the traditional "St. James Infirmary," songs that define the New Orleans piano tradition.
"I felt a desire to play more of this stuff a little more seriously," Krown said. "I wanted to do a record of New Orleans music. And instead of making it something political, about the waters rising, get out of the attic, the failures of the levees, all those horrible things, I wanted to focus on the things the city is about. Music is a big part of that."
Krown, Barras and Anderson, augmented by saxophonist Brent Rose, celebrate the release of "Old Friends" on Saturday at Le Bon Temps Roule.
Even as he spent 14 years in Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's globe-trotting band, Krown built a parallel career as a bandleader and solo keyboardist. "Old Friends" is his eighth album, including a previous trio project with harmonica player Jumpin' Johnny Sansone and guitarist John Fohl.
Most of his catalog consists of deep-grooved records with his Organ Trio. But on "Old Friends," Krown parked the Hammond B-3 in favor of straight-ahead, boogie-woogie piano in the New Orleans style.
"You can't keep doing the same thing," Krown said. "This is who I am musically. I felt like I needed this in my catalog. To have one record where I'm just playing straight-up, next-generation Professor Longhair and Mac 'Dr. John' Rebennack."
In keeping with boogie-woogie tradition, there is no bass player on "Old Friends" -- Krown's left hand supplies the bottom end. Percussionist Michael Skinkus adds congas to seven tracks, replicating the contributions of Alfred "Uganda" Roberts on Longhair recordings. Brent Rose stamps his tenor sax on four tracks, including the Shirley & Lee classic "Feels So Good."
Arguably, the New Orleans piano genre is better served by original material rather than yet another version of "St. James Infirmary." Fresh compositions indicate that a genre is still vital, and not a museum piece. To that end, four Krown compositions on "Old Friends" fit in easily alongside the standards.
"When I play piano, that's just the way I play," he said. "When I write, it's going to sound like Longhair. I can't help it. That's the most natural way; I'm not doing it as an affected style. I'm a stylized player."
Krown was the second act, following Walter "Wolfman" Washington, to perform at the Maple Leaf just weeks after Katrina. His Uptown home did not flood. But with his daughter transferred to a Baton Rouge high school, he shuttled back and forth on Interstate 10 that fall.
With musicians scarce in those first few months, he often worked with Anderson and Barras. The title of "Old Friends" refers not only to the songs, but to that duo, as well as friends and musicians who have passed away since the storm.
They include Gatemouth Brown. As cancer and heart disease ate away at Brown in the summer of 2005, he occasionally joined Krown at Le Bon Temps Roule and elsewhere for low-key duo performances. Krown booked time at Ultrasonic Studio in early August to record their collaboration, but Brown was too weak. He died in September 2005, days after evacuating to Orange, Texas.
"When he died, I was already in shock (from Katrina), so his whole passing passed me by," Krown said. "But when I hear him on the radio, it's always a sad moment."
Since Gate's death, Krown hasn't toured much. He travels to a few blues festivals, and usually visits Europe twice annually. He doesn't miss extended road trips.
"If I don't ride around in a bus for 200 days a year, it's not going to kill me. If a tour comes up, I'll probably take it. But if not, I'm OK playing gigs around town and sleeping in my own bed."
He's found more work locally than before Katrina. His regular slots include Friday evenings at Le Bon Temps Roule and Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at Ralph's on the Park. He's often featured for the Wednesday Swing Night at Mid-City Lanes, and is also a regular at d.b.a., Dos Jefes and the Maple Leaf.
"This is all word of mouth, where people are looking for a New Orleans piano player and my name falls out of the hat. Part of the reason I release CDs is to give someone a reason to play me on the radio. As long as I keep in sight, I'm in mind."
Krown hopes that with "Old Friends," he's finally established his own sonic signature.
"That's what I was trying to get across. That I've got a style and a sound. That no matter what I'm playing, whether it's something I wrote or a standard, it's still going to be recognizably my style. And it will also be a New Orleans sounding thing."
JOE KROWN TRIO CD RELEASE PARTY
Featuring: Guitarist Brint Anderson, drummer Mike Barras
and saxophonist Brent Rose.
When: Saturday, 11 p.m.
Where: Le Bon Temps Roule,
4801 Magazine St., (504) 895-8117.
What else: Krown performs early tonight at Le Bon Temps Roule, later tonight at the Banks Street Bar with Juice, Sunday at the Maple Leaf and Wednesday at the Mid-City Lanes.
To hear a song from Krown's
new 'Old Friends' CD, go to
Keyboardist Joe Krown, left, performs with guitarist Brint Anderson and drummer Mike Barras on 'Old Friends,' his latest CD.
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| posted on 4/7/2007 at 03:11 PM|
|It is funny you should post that article, I was just over at nola.com. and read the article earlier today.|
Nice pic of Joe below:
Copying from a single source is called plagiarism, copying from multiple source is called research.....
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