Nola Blue Records
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2020
So when I found out that “MacDaddy Mojeaux” is the twelfth release for New Orleans vocalist and trumpeter Gregg Martinez (his first for Nola Blue Records), I kind of shook my head in disbelief. Not for the fact that he’s been making music over the course of five decades but for the fact that over all that time, I have let this amazing voice fly under my radar. Oh well, better late than never.
Having graduated high school in 1974 Gregg grew up listening to the likes of soul legends such as Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, and Al Green, along with fellow Louisianans such as Luther Kent, Johnny Adams, et al, and as you will soon hear, he was inspired and influenced by them, as well.
On “MacDaddy Mojeaux”, Gregg Martinez’s powerful and soulful lead and background vocals are backed up by: Tom Courville on drums; Greg Kingston, Tony Goulas, James Martinez, Billy Lawson and Tony Ardoin on guitar; Sid Daigle and Lee Allen Zeno on bass; Darryl Fontenot, Bryan Perrin and Lawrence Siebirth on piano; Charles Ventre on Hammond B3 organ; Ronnie Eades on tenor and alto saxophones; Claude Salles on trombone; Alan Linker on trumpet; Tony Daigle on percussion; and Carla Benson and Evette Benton on background vocals. Special guests include: Sonny Landreth on guitar; Anthony Dopsie on accordion; Rockin Dopsie, Jr on rubboard; and Charlene Howard on lead vocals. Of the disc’s thirteen tracks, Four are originals and the other nine contain a handful of some of the best darn soul tracks ever written and recorded.
Most of us know he didn’t write it, and in spite of so many others having done an excellent job with it, it’s Freddie King who is most recognized when it comes to the Don Nix classic “Same Old Blues”. That’s probably because he did the best damn version ever! That said, if I were to pick another cover to go toe to toe against Freddie’s version, this is it right here. Musical highlights include Gregg Kingston getting into some of the same old blues guitar licks very reminiscent of Freddie’s, and Charles Ventre’s B3 led rhythm.
In 1973 a Canadian band called Skylark had a huge hit with this song. It’s title is “Wildflower” (Edwards/Richardson) and while it topped the charts in Canada for twenty-one weeks, it made it to the top ten on pop charts all over the world, as well. It’s popularity led it to also being an oft recorded song and because of it’s romantic, slow dancing vibe, has probably been played at nearly every English speaking wedding in the world. So if you’re now thinking how does one take a song like this and do it justice? My answer is simple – just give it a listen! With some absolutely beautiful backup support from Carla and Evette, Gregg uses an impressive range on a commanding, soulful and heartfelt performance that he more than stepped up on by knocking it out of the park.
So on the “thank yous” inside the disc’s jacket, Gregg Martinez tells Tony Goulas “This project is a whole lot better because of all your contributions – writing, playing, singing, knowledge and quintessence” and one of those places where most of that comes into play is on a track titled “Starting All Over Again” (Philip Mitchell). It’s another one of those seventies things that was a hit for Mel and Tim. Although I do remember the song, I do not remember the original version – and right now I’m okay with that because this rendition is killing it. Tim and Sid are laying down some of the disc’s best rhythm on the drums and bass; elevating that even more are fabulous horn (Ronnie, Claude and Allan) and piano (Darryl) highlights; and Gregg and Tony – who have obviously done this before – are indeed a dynamic duo on the vocals.
Now if you’re ready for some bayou boogieing with lots of zydeco zing, “Eva Delle” will show you the way. With three guitarists; a full horn section; raucous rhythm assisted by extra added percussion, piano, accordion and rubboard; this Gregg Martinez original – a party song on steroids – features just about everyone in the credits having one hell of a good time.
Being a sucker for slow, bluesy, melancholy ballads, this Tony Goulas original titled “Just Stay Gone” is easily my favorite of the lot. Although the rhythm sections on these types of songs generally lay back and give way to a powerful vocal performance with a scorching sax, piano or guitar lead, it’s always such an incredible part of the song. Right now, this rhythm section is all over that. That said, Gregg and Tony stopped me in my tracks. Doing anything else but sitting back and letting an emotional vocal and scorching guitar performance like this just carry you away would be blasphemy.
Being a few years older than Gregg, I’m having such a good time relating to his influences and listening to the songs he’s chosen for the disc – especially this original titled “Moonlight And Magnolias”. This is one of those old school R&B numbers that remind me so much of the American Bandstand era. As I listen, all of a sudden I become a young innocent teenager again. If you lived those days and are feeling my vibe, please give me an Amen.
With “Don’t Pull Your Love” (Lamber/Potter) being another big production type song there is so much to like about it. That said and I’m going to respectfully narrow down my comments to one person – Charlene Howard. And if I chose to, I could narrow those comments down to one word – WOW! To say her stunning vocal performance nearly steals the show on this one is in no way a slight to the rest of the band, it’s merely the praise that she deserves. Side note to Charlene – the Blewzzman will be searching for you.
Since this is a Randy Newman song the “Marie” being sung about is obviously not from a real life experience of Gregg’s. Too bad Gregg! On the other hand, if it was someone that Randy was actually involved with, then he was one lucky man. Additionally, if Marie was nearly as beautiful as this duet featuring Gregg singing his heart out and Larry Siebeth making heavenly music on the piano and strings, then she was a looker for sure.
Other tracks on this dynamite disc are: “I Believe To My Soul” (Ray Charles); “You Left the Water Running” (Penn/Hall/Franks); “This House” (Goulas/Martinez); “Snatching It Back” (Carter/Jackson); and “Can I Change My Mind?” (Despenza/Wolfork).
To find out more about Gregg Martinez just go to: www.greggmartinez.com . Wherever you go and whomever you talk to, please tell them that the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping the Blues Alive Recipient