Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"We Do Not Loan Out Our Under Things" — Pristine Gibberish and Deep South Music

Summer, 2010, ushered in two new CDs by a group of folks who are playing and promoting the music of Abita Springs, La. (home of Turbo Dog beer) and south Mississippi.

I Remember the Night Your Trailer Burned Down, by pianist, singer and songwriter Bobby Lounge, is a series of long New Orleans piano rolls in a variety of styles, including blues, ragtime, boogie woogie and gospel. The rolls are of the rapid-fire, bang-'em-out variety. This isn't gossamer make-it-sing stuff.

Even more impressive than the virtuosic fireworks of the piano playing is the raucous, absurd humor in the songs' lyrics. Lounge has staked his claim in Southern culture on the skids subject matter, and let his sense of the ridiculous run wild. Try not to laugh as you read these passages:

• "He won't show you nasty movies ...
"He won't take your night shift down at Popeye's fried chicken." -- "I Will"

• "They ran Tippy out of town on a morals charge ...
"Tippy met some Communist Chinese.
"They toasted him with wine until his head was swimmin'.
"They tattooed him all over with motorcycle women ...
"The queen said, 'We do not loan out our under things.'
"He said, 'Ma'am, just send me home to Abita Springs.'"
— "Take Me Back to Abita Springs"

• "It's pitiful, 'cause Shauna don't know who her mamma is.
"He said Rosa said the other evening she came in there and looked up at Rosa and said, 'Memaw. Memaw. Be my momma memaw. Be my momma memaw.'"
— "I Remember the Night Your Trailer Burned Down"

I can't remember the last time I heard such pristine gibberish on a popular music recording. Just keep this CD on your player and you can throw away your copy of Chicken Soup for the Humor-Impaired.
For more information, visit www.Bobby or write John Preble c/o Abitian Records, 22275 HWY 36, Abita Springs, Louisiana 70420.

The second CD, New Mardi Gras Classics, presents 16 songs about Mardi Gras that have been written over a 40-year period.

The Abitians, who have the lion's share of the cuts, are real genre-jumpers. In "This Is Endymion," the calypso sound is dominant, but there are nice touches of rockabilly and melancholy burlesque guitar. That same guitar, along with some sweet sock-it-to me organ, shows up on the tribal burlesque rocker "King Zulu." This cut would have been the perfect accompaniment for a screening of a stag film in the dark back room of a downtown New Orleans storefront in the 1950s. The calypso vibe is dominant again in "When the Levees Broke."

"The King of Bacchus" is a mock Dylan ballad, with such clever lines as "No facts-based logic could prepare me for this."

In one cut, a man with a gravely bass voice sings,
"I'll wear some high heal shoes and a boustier
"To some it may be a little risqué.
"I'll be the cutest thing you ever saw.
"I want to be the prettiest girl on Mardi Gras."

"Mardi Gras on the Mind" is purist hillbilly music.

But with all this genre-jumping and mixing, the Abitians are still perfectly comfortable playing "Mardi Gras in Evangeline," which is a straightforward traditional Cajun rocker.

"Mardi Gras Season" offers the most insightful line of the CD: "It's so much fun when you're not you."

This is a sound endorsement of a New Orleans Mardi Gras that has meat on its bones: that allows for absolute improvisation and near absolute self-indulgence in street theatre — the kind of thing one sees in Charles Gatewood's Mardi Gras street photos of the 1970s.

Dash Rip Rock, a band that's starting to work Lake Charles, La., venues, pulls down the best hooks on the record with "Orpheus Night," an upbeat pop number with lots of playful guitar twanging.

You can tell from the pictures on the inset that there aren't any woe-is-me 20-year-olds on these records. Some of these musicians have been at this a long time. It's a recording with good execution all the way through that never takes itself too seriously.

For information, visit

Both discs are being promoted by the UCM Museum (pronounced You-see-'em Museum), 22275 Highway 36, Abita Springs, 70420. This place is a DIY art center. Don't expect to see any Blue Dogs paintings here. The museum caters to low-brow and outsider art and little models of old-fashioned service stations and the like.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the nice comments.
    The UCM Museum is home of the Abita Mystery House. On the grounds is the recording studio. Bobby Lounge is the real deal. He will be at the NO Jazz Fest May 1. He has only performed about 20 times publicly. And regarding the New Mardi Gras Classics CD - we recorded over 400 hours of total songs (not individual takes) just to make the one CD. This 400 hours does not include the listening of these songs. It took over a year of working every day. John Preble