The Claudettes review…December 11, 2013…

THE CLAUDETTES

INFERNAL PIANO PLOT…HATCHED!

YELLOW DOG RECORDS   YDR 2065

STUMBLIN’ HOME SATISFIED–BIG SUCKER PUNCH–HAMMER AND TICKLE–TIDE POOL–DEEP SOUL FOR HIGH SOCIETY–NEW ORLEANS YARD SALE (NEW 11-BAR BLUES)–INFERNAL PIANO PLOT…HATCHED!–SERENADING THE CLEAN-UP CREW–TREMBLIN’ BLUES–MOTORHOME–LAND OF PRECISELY THREE DANCES–CHIN-UP TANGO–DO YOU SEE IT TOO?

Groups such as The White Stripes and The Black Keys tackle a bluesy sound with minimalist guitar-bass-drum arrangements, taking a “less is more” approach.  With The Claudettes, they take it one step further.  Consisting of only Johnny Iguana on piano and Michael Caskey on drums, these two powerful players have created a buzz-worthy amalgam of pumpin’ piano rock mixed with blues, jazz, funk, soul, and just about everything but the kitchen sink over the course of thirteen instrumental gems.  The album is entitled “Infernal Piano Plot…Hatched!,” and breaks every rule in the book for traditional blues piano.

The Claudettes were hired as the house band for Claudette’s bar in Oglesby, IL, by the owner herself.  She put them on salary, and word of their “wall of sound” began to spread.  They played to regularly packed houses, and, even after Claudette lost her lease in 2011, she took the fellows “on the road,” working out deals with other venues everywhere from St. Louis to Kalamazoo.

Johnny and Michael developed their sound after listening to seminal recordings of Otis Span n and S. P. Leary.  That’s where the comparisons stop, tho, as you’ll hear  evidence of Mose Allison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Vince Guaraldi, and probably more if you think hard enough!

The party starts with the loping blues of “Stumblin’ Home Satisfied.”  In “Hammer And Tickle,” one can hear the Guaraldi themes, as well as the nods to Brother Ray in “Deep Soul For High Society.”  “New Orleans Yard Sale,” has a sweet Crescent City feel, by way of Professor Longhair, while Little Brother Montgomery’s “Tremblin’ Blues” comes off as something out of a vaudeville-era production.

There are as many ways to interpret the music on “Infernal Piano Plot…Hatched” as there are listeners who’ll discuss it.  One thing that can’t be denied, tho, is the tremendous energy that The Claudettes bring to these grooves.  This will be the most unusual blues album you’ll hear this year, and it may be the one you go back to enjoy again and agaimn!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

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