Tom Hambridge review…June 23, 2018…..

TOM HAMBRIDGE

THE NOLA SESSIONS

FEAT. ALLEN TOUSSAINT, IVAN NEVILLE, AND SONNY LANDRETH

SUPERSTAR FACTORY PRODUCTIONS

BLUES BEEN MIGHTY GOOD TO ME–BLUZ CRAZY–THIS END OF THE ROAD-I LOVE EVERYTHING–WHAT YOU LEAVE BEHIND–LITTLE THINGS–WHISKEY GHOST–SAVE ME–A COUPLE DROPS–MASTERPIECE–ME AND CHARLIE–TRYING TO FIND IT–FAITH

Drummer, vocalist, composer, and producer of the highest degree, Tom Hambridge, has a list of credits that, as Howlin’ Wolf would say, is “as long as my right arm,: or perhaps even a bit longer.  A hugely-prolific writer with over 400 songs recorded by an equally-impressive number of storied artists, Tom has won two Grammys for his production skills, and has found time to release eight solo albums.  The latest is entitled “The NOLA Sessions,” for Superstar Records.

This one is Tom’s tribute to the Big Easy, its heritage and history, and he welcomes guest appearances by Allen Toussaint, Ivan Neville, and Sonny Landreth over the course of these original songs.  Opening things is probably a great autobiographical tune for Tom, the loping, “after hours” groove of “Blues Been Mighty Good To Me,” featuring piano and vocal from the iconic Allen Toussaint himself.

Tom’s characters in his songs are as colorful as the music that backs them, including “Freddie,” who was “conceived at a Foghat concert,” and “graduated Hank Williams, Jr. High,” and loves things just the way they are “down at This End Of The Road,” with slide from Sonny.  “Curtis” is a man who’ll “give you one of his,” if you don’t have a smile, is the reverential theme of “it’s not what you take with you,” but, “What You Leave Behind” that counts.  Ivan Neville is here, on the B-3.  “Whiskey Ghost,” co-written with Gary Nicholson, is another story of a man who’s always looking over his shoulder for his alcohol demons to return, seemingly always just around the corner, and, as always, “the first one’s free.”  This one had a cool, almost-reggae beat, with “backwards-ish” guitar licks from Sonny’s Slydeco guitar.

We had two favorites, too.  Tom and Sonny team up again to tell the story of Buddy Guy’s legendary bus driver, Charlie McPherson, who’s always got a “Slim Jim and a piss jar,” and “ain’t hit the brakes in three long days,” detailing life on the road with a true blues legend.  Tom closes the set with acoustic guitar from John Fohl and cello from Nathaniel Smith, where we learn that you gotta hold on to “Faith,” for “a man with faith knows the truth.”  It’s a stark, chilling tale with solid Delta overtones that belies this most intriguing, unseen force.

“The NOLA Sessions” is a strong set from start to finish, and Tom Hambridge gives an honest, soulful look at one of the world’s greatest Meccas for music!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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