Sunday, August 15, 2010

Benny Maygarden - Gutted

I remember when Benny Maygarden was gigging with a grinding blues combo called the Backsliders. That was back when Stevie Ray Vaughn was still alive, the Fabulous Thunderbirds were on the charts and Ronald Reagan's address was Pennsylvania Avenue.

Benny worked the harp like a happy child knawing on a cob of corn. It was often hard to tell what part was face, or hands, or harmonica. When he broke to sing into the vocal microphone, it was almost as if he was coming up for air from the ocean of blues.

For his 2009 CD "Come On, If You’re Coming," Benny assembles a powerhouse studio band of blues and swamp rock artists, creating a gutsy and fun set of electric blues in the finest tradition of New Orleans music. Tracks range from the cautionary "Too many Tarzans," to the broken-hearted "Don't Knock," to the easy dance beat of "Let me rock you".

The standout track, not surprisingly, speaks to the hollowness that filled so many houses after the flood-soaked interiors had been stripped down to the studs. "Gutted" tells the story too many of us had to live in concise snapshots: tiny FEMA Travel Trailers, difficulties with the Road Home program, fear of formaldehyde, stressed-out personal relationships, and the struggle to rebuild our homes.

It includes the refrain, "Now I'm gutted. I'm just gutted. Well I ain't moved back in, I'm still just hanging on." It was not just our homes that were violated and left hollow.

Blues done properly is a celebration of life--an acknowledgment of the struggle, yes, but also a declaration of undaunted spirit. In the Post-Katrina world of New Orleans, the struggle is real and ongoing. But the spirit continues to climb.

Benny Maygarden gives us the strength to climb.


Jason Crane | The Jazz Session said...

Thanks for this review. I just ordered the CD based on it.

Jason Crane
The Jazz Session

Anonymous said...

the first time i heard "gutted" i shit a brick.

it is my favorite post k song.

i love "whats your fema number" , "george bush dont like black people", and "katrina gave me that".

all bounce responses to katrina.

they came at a time when i was pissed and needed to blow off steam.

i heard gutted about 3 or 4 years after katrina on wwoz.

when i read benny's katrina story on the net i ordered the c.d. the same day from his website.

he was even kind enough to autograph it and it showed up three days later in my mail box.

the tarzan song is also an instant classic.

looking forward to more in this series.

hope you and yours are well.

take care, rick and trish.