These four guitarists were backed by a tight but flexible unit of fans and friends, some of whom they had already performed and/or recorded with in the past. The rhythm section of bassist Larry Fulcher, drummer B.E. "Frosty" Smith and keyboardist Riley Osbourn is the best and brightest of Austin's deep and diverse blues talent pool. But the real secret weapon was saxist Mark "Kaz" Kazanoff, arguably the blues' most prolific and proficient horn arranger and player. Kazanoff, who also plays a mean harp on two tracks, has an inherent feel for soulful sax sensibilities and his playing and arranging on these sessions elevated the music and inspired everyone involved.
The sessions, more like a musical family reunion than real work, were wonderfully free-flowing affairs, as ideas were exchanged, stories were swapped and more than a little good-natured dissing accompanied each and every hot lick. The musicians' shared affinity for the sensibilities unique to the Golden Triangle region meant that a lot of instructions went unspoken, as they latched onto a vintage groove and effortlessly navigated the music's inherent eccentricities like a Creole trapper poling a canoe through the bayous.
Although the musicians involved come out with all guns blazing, the sessions were as much a celebration as a shootout. The competitive spirit is always there--check out the guitar one-upmanship when all the fretmasters fire away at once but in between tall tales the musicians acted as more of a mutual support group than as competitors.
The material graphically explains the Golden Triangle's deeply rooted, but undeniably off-the-wall, musical attitude. I Can't Stand It No More, an obscure tune from an obscure source, is a perfect example of the musical mindset of the bayou blues contingent. The song, a supple and surprisingly complicated one (an eleven bar blues!) is a product of the infamous R&B pianist/vocalist Eskew Reeder, better known to fans of swamp surrealism as Esquerita, Little Richard's flamboyant role model. It's essentially jazzy R&B, spiced up with some tasty Marcia Ball piano work, and there are few other blues recordings it would fit so naturally on.
Other tunes, such as Two Trains Running, a song so popular with bayou blues rowdies that Hunter and Charles swear they had to play it eight times a night in Port Arthur or suffer serious consequences, serve to illustrate the tastes of the times. The regional standard It's Mighty Crazy, popularized by the Lightnins as Lightnin' Slim waxed a Louisiana version and Lightnin' Hopkins recorded a Texas version, is another perfect fusion which evocatively recalls the music that kept the all-night parties going until sunrise services. A Little More Time, which sounds like a long lost Guitar Slim tune but is in fact a new composition that remains in the spirit, further affirms the enduring joys of the swamp blues attitude. Then there's Clarence Garlow's Bon Ton Roulet, as close to a regional anthem as exists. The guitarists, reinforced with a few perfectly chosen Ball piano runs, treat it with respect but also as a mandate to indeed let the good times roll, and attitude that works as well today as it did decades ago.
But every track has its attractions and like bayou cooking they get better with each reheating, as new sonic spices pop out of the mix and reconfigure the overall sound. Hunter said it best when he proclaimed, "I don't think we'd all like to go back and live through those times again, but if we can bring that music here to the present, without all the knife fights and carrying-on, then we've got the best of both worlds."
Reviews"A blazing blues reunion" - BillBoard