An exciting acoustic collaboration between two young lions of the blues with strong New Orleans ties. Harris and Butler run the roots gamut from blues to ragtime to New Orleans funk to gospel, with diverse lyrics to match. "Harris plays and sings the blues with joy, deep feeling and raw Delta grit. Butler is an overwhelming piano virtuoso and ferociously expressive singer" -- Chicago Tribune
All songs by Corey Harris and Henry Butler, Njumba Music/HenStarr Publ., ASCAP, except as shown.
Corey Harris Guitars and Vocals
Henry Butler Piano and Vocals
Clifford Alexander, Rubboard on If You Let A Man Kick You Once and Sugar Daddy
Produced by Bruce Iglauer, Corey Harris and Henry Butler
Recorded by Tony Daigle at Dockside Studio, Maurice, LA
Additional recording at Side One Studio, Metairie, LA
Mixed by Michael Freeman at Tone Zone Recording, Chicago, IL
Mastered by Jeff Hillman at Monster Disc, Chicago, IL
Art Direction and Design by Laurie Hager
Photos by David B. Grunfeld
Corey Harris solo performances and Corey Harris/Henry Butler duo performances are booked by: Monterey Peninsula Artists tel: 312-640-7500 fax: 312-640-7515 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Henry Butler solo performances are booked by: Concerted Efforts tel: 617-969-0810
fax: 617-969-6761 email: email@example.com
Corey Harris' management: Red Light Management - Coran Capshaw & Chris Tetzeli - 804.244.7200
Corey Harris' legal representation: Elliot Grofman & Janine Natter - Codikow, Carroll, Guido & Groffman, LLP
Henry Butler's legal representation: Charles Driebe 770.478.8894
Also by Corey Harris on Alligator Records:
AL 4837 Between Midnight And Day
AL 4850 Fish Ain't Bitin'
AL 4864 Greens From The Garden
Also by Henry Butler on Black Top Records:
BT 1144 Blues After Sunset
THE BLUES CONTINUALLY REINVENTS ITSELF. Just when it seems that no new ideas exist in this deceptively simple genre, the blues inspires vivid, vital variations. Such creative flashes are especially frequent in the cultural crucible of New Orleans, where innovation and tradition swirl like molten metal. Vu-du menz Corey Harris and Henry Butler joined forces in the Crescent City--Butler is a native, while Harris spent five seminal years there--and their powerful new album exudes plenty of New Orleans' pungent, pervasive funk. Besides honoring such Big Easy icons as Professor Longhair, Eddie Bo, and James Booker, this eclectic duo also explores and interprets the classic guitar-piano sound of Tampa Red and Georgia Tom, Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell, and Casey Bill Weldon and Black Bob.
Both Harris and Butler come to this collaboration as successful solo artists. Corey's three previous albums established his reputation as an acoustic-blues interpreter and a mature songwriter with a restless stylistic vision. Henry's six prior releases continue to earn accolades for their passion, prowess and incredible range of jazz and blues idioms. When the two met in New Orleans in 1996, they were already well-acquainted with each other's work. "I was very interested in Corey's music," Henry recalls, "because his sound was so different from most younger musicians. He's very contemporary, especially in terms of his political and social lyrics. But he's also deep in to acoustic blues-guitar from the 1920s and '30s. He knows that material, and he can really play it. I remember my mom listening to that music when I was a kid, on old 78 r.p.m. records by people like Casey Bill Weldon. Corey reoriented me to that sound. I might never have explored it again, otherwise."
"I'm so impressed by Henry's mastery of so many musical forms," Corey says, "from classical to avant-garde. What's more, he always relishes learning something new." Harris was also taken with Butler's exquisite, intuitive accompaniment of vocalists, and asked Henry to play on his critically-acclaimed album Greens From The Garden, released in 1999. Their proven partnership ushered in the more ambitious concept of recording an entire album together.
The intimate setting of vu-du menz showcases this duo's prodigious talents and tight interplay in a diverse set that is full of original material. Shake What Your Mama Gave You, Let 'Em Roll and Song Of The Pipelayer evoke the lusty fun of '30s-era blues. Turning 180 degrees, Mulberry Row takes a long, hard, look at history. "That song is about the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and his mistress/slave, Sally Hemmings," Harris explains. "I visited Jefferson's home, Monticello, in Virginia; Mulberry Row is the name of the slave cabins there, and seeing it made a big impression on me." See What The Man Have Done is in a similarly unflinching vein.
With this inspired reinvention of the blues, these vu-du menz who connected in the heat of New Orleans have made an eloquent, articulate statement. In their reverent, funky hands, acoustic blues remains fresh, viable and vibrant, with endless possibilities for the future.
Ben Sandmel is the author of Zydeco!, published by the University Press of Mississippi, and the drummer/producer for the Grammy-nominated Cajun band, The Hackberry Ramblers.