Professor Louie & The Crowmatix – Miles Of Blues
10 songs – 46 minutes
Miles Of Blues is the 15th release from Woodstock, NY-based Professor Louie & The Crowmatix and it is a fine collection of electric blues, combined with dashes of roots and Americana. With decades of experience playing with the likes of The Band, Levon Helm, Bob Dylan and Van Morrison, one would expect a high level of technical expertise and emotional connection from the various band members. What is perhaps most charming about Miles Of Blues, however, is the vitality of the performances and the delight the musicians appear to take in playing together. The funky one-chord vamp that ends the New Orleans-groove of “Rain 40 Days” is an excellent example of a band wholly at ease with each other and the music.
The tone of the album is set in the first song, “L-50 Blues”, which opens with solitary acoustic slide guitar. The track slowly builds in intensity as different instruments and voices enter the fray. It is not structured as traditional I-IV-V blues but is 100% a blues song. The rest of the album follows a similar approach. The focus is on the song, not the soloist, and the groove is key. “Funky Steamboat Blues” successfully blends a Bo Diddley jungle beat with strong hints of Billy Boy Arnold’s “I Wish You Would” to create something quite novel. “Exit Zero” combines a traditional blues structure with some excellent organ work, giving the track a cool ’60s feel.
The Crowmatix comprises Professor Louie on vocals, keyboards, Hammond organ and accordion; Miss Marie on vocals, piano, percussion and whistling; Gary Burke on drums (and horn arrangement on the bonus live track “Bull Frog Jam Blues”, which also features the Woodstock Horns: Nick Driscoll, Jim Buckley, Danny Coyle and Chuck Smith) ; and John Platania on guitars and backing vocals. “Oh My Lady” also has has guest appearances from Bobbie Van Detta on guitar and backing vocals and the great Tom “Bones” Malone on horns.
The Professor and Miss Marie co-write seven of the tracks on the album. Platania contributed “L-50 Blues” and there are covers of Percy Mayfield’s “Please Send Me Someone To Love” and The Band’s “Orange Juice Blues”. The song range from the blues-rock of “Love Bound” (with great vocals from Miss Marie) to the jazzed-up stop-time of “Passion In My Life”. The classic blues ballad, “Please Send Me Someone To Love”, loses the horns of the original while “Orange Juice Blues” is played relatively faithfully to Richard Manuel’s original, albeit with a great piano solo.
The nine minute live version of “Bull Frog Jam Blues” captures Professor Louie & The Crowmatix tearing it up on-stage. Plantania throws in a beautiful slide guitar solo before every other musician is given the opportunity to stretch out over a funky backbeat.
Miles Of Blues was recorded at LRS Studios in Hurley, NY, and was produced and engineered by the Professor. The songs are cleverly structured with smart lyrics and played with the consummate ease of experienced professionals. This is a very good blues album and a very enjoyable one too.