DarielB – Flying Under the Radar

Lovin’ ‘LuLu’s House’

Posted in CD Picks by darielb on August 10, 2010

I’ve been following the career of Columbia, S.C. musician J Edwards for just over a year. I first heard him at a club in Columbia and was struck immediately by the soulful vocals he delivered. Then I got hold of a couple earlier CDs: Watcha Doin’ (2006), which is mainly acoustic blues; and Everything Changes (2008),  electrified and less bluesy, with a full band. The musical arrangements along with the same raw, gut-sucking vocals convinced me to include Everything Changes in my CD Picks (February 11, 2010).

Long story short, when J Edwards told me he was hard at work on a new blues CD, I was giddy with anticipation and more anxious for it than a school girl shopping for her first brassiere.

I’m happy to report that LuLu’s House hits home in a big way.  This ten-track recording overflows with goose-bumpin’ vocals, boot-stompin’ blues and heartstopping musicianship. LuLu’s House beckons us in to meet some good ole down home folks and share in the sumptuous buffet of Southern life. It’s all about eatin’ and leavin’, leavin’ and eatin’. LuLu sets the tone for a warm, if irreverent group of House dwellers. There’s not a loser in the bunch.

Track one, “Aint Gonna Be  Your Dog”  is a love song, but he suspects she’s leaving, so he sets some rules. And I bet LuLu approves.

Baby when you’re home, you walk away from me

And when you talk, you talk away from me

When you laugh, it ain’t with me

I’ll be your everything

But I ain’t gonna be your dog

Track two  is also about leaving. “You Told Me You Loved Me” is a heartachy tune about life’s shortcomings and love’s disappointments. Between vocals by J Edwards and signature guitar work from Nashville artist Rickey Godfrey, you’ll be feeling this straight ahead blues tune.

You said you loved me

That you would never never never go

You said you love me

That you would never never go

Now you say you’re leaving

I say I told you told you so

Told your friends you would change me

Said you were gonna  tie me down

Told your friends you would change me

Said you were gonna tie me down

There are nights I go out drinkin’

You don’t even stick around

I thought you said you loved me baby

At LuLu’s House, love is definitely a double-edged sword.

According to J, “New Shoes” is his take on Northern blues. The shoes are dapper, the coat is fancy and this boy is “whistlin’ while he’s walkin’.” Leavin’ again.

Edwards told me that most of these tunes have been around for years. He said, “I wrote them back when I was playing the Columbia blues clubs every weekend, so when I decided to do another CD, I came up with some different arrangements of blues ideas and songs I’d written. In fact, ‘I Got a Woman’ is one of those songs.”

“I Got a Woman”  is the standout tune off the CD. It features plaintive vocals by J and more searing guitar licks from Rickey Godfrey.

J says response to the tune has been phenomenal. “It’s a solid blues song – simple progressions, simple lyrics … but every blues player I’ve jammed with falls in love with it. Someone will say, ‘Hey, if you’re going to do that song, I wanna play guitar on it.’ I was in Nashville earlier this year, at the Pro Blues Jam with Tim Gonzalez,  the Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar in Printer’s Alley. Rickey Godfrey was on guitar. I think it was maybe the second or third time he played it and … whoa!”

There’s a video of that performance on YouTube. You can see it for yourself at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2E5cv25Zcs.

A side story to that, J told me he had really enjoyed the guys jamming with him that night. Back at the studio, he said the same to producer Mike O’neil , mentioning the bass player, in particular. O’neil knew the guy (Gere Hoffman) and worked with him often, so he wound up playing on the CD, too.

“Taste” is another “taste of somethin’ good,” with lusty, whisky-edged vocals and a performance by the backing band that is solid on its own, but never steps on the vocals.

Rickey Godfrey, a top drawer vocalist in his own right,  explains it like this: “J’s vocals are so strong, so huge, I think we all just tried to stay out of his way, and let him put it out there. No one wanted to play over him, we wanted to support him. It’s not every day you have a vocalist like this to work with.”

Track eight, “Come On In the Bedroom,” is another of my favorites, for the pure lustfulness of it. And again, great band work.

But what about the CD title? I wanted to know where LuLu’s House came from.

“I remember, as a kid,” J Edwards says, “that everyone had songs about LuLu … and  some of them were kinda dirty … so this is my song about LuLu: “Eatin’ About LuLu’s.”

“You know, you see people on the side of the road sometimes with signs ‘Will Work For Beer.’ They’re honest about it.

“Well, this guy, this street musician may drink some, but it’s really about the food.”

He can “eat down to LuLu’s for 65 cents …” He just wants some pancakes. When LuLu’s House turns out to be a cathouse, too, our boy’s not opposed to sharing her bed, but it’s still the “biscuits and hamhocks” he’s really lusting for.

And that’s where LuLu’s House came from. Check out the tuba. Makes you feel like you’re on the streets of New Orleans somewhere, ready to head on over to LuLu’s. For the food.

Players  on LuLu’s House include: vocals, J Edwards; piano and organ, Larry Van Loon; drums and percussion, Mike O’neil; bass, Gere Hoffman; guitar, Kenne Cramer; harmonica, J Edwards; additional guitar on “I Got a Woman” and “You Said You Loved Me, Rickey Godfrey; additional bass on “Eatin’ at Lulu’s” and “Taste,” Kevin Grantt; saxophone, “Summer’s Waiting,” Dana Robbins; tuba on “Eatin’ at LuLu’s,” Matt Glassmeyer.

Recorded at Serenity Hill Studios, Nashville, Tenn; producer, Mike O’neil; engineer, Brian Tortoro; mix, Mark Polack; mastered at Serenity Hill by Mike O’neil and Mark Polack.

For more information, visit the website: jedwardsband.com or look for J Edwards on Facebook.


2 Responses

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  1. Michael Rozbitskyl said, on August 12, 2010 at 9:00 am

    I have listen to J’s new CD and it is the best he has made by far. His others are good and have some great songs, but the production and Jays bluesey voice and style makes this his best.

    • darielb said, on October 5, 2010 at 8:43 pm

      Sorry for the long delay, I agree … and LuLu’s House gets better with each listen.

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