Gregg Martinez – MacDaddy Mojeaux | Album Review

Gregg Martinez – MacDaddy Mojeaux

Nola Blues Records

13 songs, 51 minutes

Swamp Pop is a genre of music created in the late 1950’s by Cajun and Black Creole young people in Southern Louisiana and adjoining East Texas. Like their contemporaries in places like California, the Midwest, and even England, the young people of Lafayette and rural surrounding areas were inspired by the seismic big bang of early Rock and Roll pioneers like Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, Ike Turner and Buddy Holly. But, unlike some other musicians in the 50’s, the Swamp Pop architects lived in the fertile musical basin of Louisiana where Acadian folk music, Black Creole chanting and early Zydeco was simmering along with an open minded appreciation of Country Western musicians such as Hank Williams, Bob Wills and the like. Swamp Pop musicians like Cookie and the Cupcakes, Johnnie Allen, Slim Harpo and Rod Bernard developed a unique style of music that combined all these elements into an alternately plaintive and raucous dance music that was popular throughout the 1960’s and highly influenced the development of Swamp Rock in the late 60’s and 70’s epitomized by Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Band.

Lafayette native son Greg Martinez is one of the modern torch bearers for the pure uncut Swamp Pop of the 60’s. Like so many great modern musicians performing and creating within a roots idiom, Martinez has taken his culturally inherited musical legacy and brought the genre into the present day. Sidestepping the influences of harder Rock interpretations, Martinez highlights the R&B connection to the music. On his latest release MacDaddy Mojeaux (“MacDaddy” is his nickname), Martinez and an expansive list of side musicians and collaborators create a thumping, funky and sentimental statement of modern Swamp Pop.

Album opener “I Believe To My Soul” is a Donny Hathaway reading of the Ray Charles tune in which Martinez sets the tone for the set. Taking a well worn R&B hit, nodding to the interpretations of the song, and infusing it with his own decidedly swampy sensibility is at the heart of MacDaddy’s charm. This conceit is taken to even deeper relief in the reading of the Skylark minor hit “Wildflower.” An 60’s Soft Rock A.M. staple with MacDaddy’s Swamp stamp on it, this sentimental performance transformers into a pleading, cathartic emotional release resplendent with lush background vocals, swaying horns and fiery lead guitar.

Grammy winning guitarist, singer, and songwriter Tony Goulas is MacDaddy’s main man. Collaborating throughout this record, the pair duet on a classic cover of “Starting All Over Again” highlighting again the way to interpret modern R&B through the Lafayette swamp. Local singer Charlene Howard adds her powerhouse pipes on the Sam and Dave chestnut “Don’t Pull Your Love.” Howard and Martinez are in perfect sync swooping over each other and counter pointing perfectly. Takeing the music out into the country, Lafayette heritage stars Rockin’ Dopsie Jr., Anthony Dopsie and slide wizard Sonny Landreth all contribute on the Zydeco leaning original Eva Delle.

Gregg Martinez has had a long career proselytizing the Swamp Pop gospel. He uses his smooth emotive tenor to convey love, pain, power and tradition. It is also clear that like all great Blues musicians, MacDaddy lives the music. From his pastel and extravagantly printed shirts to his variety of hats, Martinez exudes a modern day old world charm. Check out MacDaddy Mojeaux for a river boat ride through some fun and powerful Blues adjacent music.

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