Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx review…..September 9, 2017….

GARY LUCAS AND NONA HENDRYX

THE WORLD OF CAPTAIN BEEFHEART

KNITTING FACTORY RECORDS

SUN ZOOM SPARK–MY HEAD IS MY ONLY HOUSE UNLESS IT RAINS–SURE ‘NUFF YES I DO–I’M GLAD–THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTE BLUES (OR THE BIG DIG)–HER EYES ARE A BLUE MILLION MILES–SUCTION PRINTS–SUGAR AND SPIKES–WHEN BIG JOAN SETS UP–TOO MUCH TIME–WHEN IT BLOWS ITS STACKS–TROPICAL HOT DOG NIGHT

The world knew Don Van Vliet as Captain Beefheart.  From 1967 to 1982, he released a total of thirteen albums with several incarnations of his Magic Band.  The Captain was one of the original envelope-pushers, melding psychedelic rock, blues, jazz, funk, and most everything under the musical sun to create an avant-garde sound that arguably changed the face of popular music, and opened up the acceptance of other like-minded artists.  His untimely passing in 2010 left a huge void in the music world, but some of his contemporaries are bent on keeping his sound alive and introducing his music to a whole new younger audience.

Jazz and soul singer Nona Hendryx is a cousin to Jimi—the family spelled their name with an “i”–and she was also a part of Patti LaBelle and the BlueBelles.  She has long been an admirer of the Captain’s music, and she possesses the pipes to match his multi-octave vocals.  She is in part responsible for one of our favorite Christmas songs of all-time.  Head over to YouTube and search out Graham Parker and “Soul Christmas,” and you’ll see  what we are talking about.

To do a Captain Beefheart tribute, you also must have a stellar guitarist.  Gary Lucas is just such a player, as he played on the Captain’s last two albums, and was the perfect choice to pull this off.

The whole affair is entitled,  “The World Of Captain Beefheart,”  for Knitting Factory Records.  Gary and Nona tackle some of the Captain’s best works, and give equal importance to his soul-blues cuts as well as his more quirky, left-of-center offerings.

There are highlights aplenty.  Nona’s soul background is ideal for the tale of how far a lover will go for another, “My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains.”  That breezy vibe continues in the Sixties-pop flavored “I’m Glad,” and the groove of both of these is right in Nona’s wheelhouse.

Gary’s guitar goes all over the sonic landscape in the good-time instrumental, “Suction Prints,” and sets the stage for the more offbeat cuts.  Nona gets into the partly spoken-word groove of “The Smithsonian Institute Blues (Or The Big Dig)” over Gary’s droning lead lines.  The set closes with another oddity, this one full of sly double-entendres’, on a “Tropical Hot Dog Night, like two flamingos in a fruit fight!”

Our favorite was easy.  Gary lays down some mean Delta-fried slide boogie as Nona rides the blinds on the bluesiest cut on the set, “Sure ‘Nuff Yes I Do,” with killer 88’s from Jordan Shapiro.

Captain Beefheart was a true cult hero and an acquired taste.  Thanks to the efforts of Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx, with “The World Of Captain Beefheart,” this lovable icon and waaay-ahead-of-his-time artist will always be fondly remembered.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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