I first saw Andy J. Forest perform at the Mirliton Festival in Bywater a couple years after Hurricane Katrina. He and the band put out a sturdy rendition of 3-chord blues appropriately punctuated with fuzzed-out guitar solos and grinding harmonica. I bought their 2007 CD "Real Stories" shortly afterwards and I’ve enjoyed it ever since.
The first cut tells the saddest story of them all, the story of Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath with just the right sardonic tone to keep it from rummaging too deeply into the most painful memories. Forest applies the blame generously: everyone gets a shout out: from Mayor Nagin to the Army Corps of Engineers to the President, who provides the title line, “Let’em Die.”
The song is well paced with an outstanding harp solo and sturdy guitar riffing that is sure to snare the table-top drummer in all of us. Forest's phrasing helps him fit all the right words into his lyrics, a technique that almost approaches modern rapping. But have no fear, "Let'em Die" is a blues song from top to bottom with a chorus of singers repeating the refrain like a church choir might repeat a prayer.
It's a dark view of what went down in 2005, but in the tradition of all great blues, revisiting those tragic events seems to provide the will and the energy to go on. The CD was well received and even won a local "Best of the Beat" award for blues.