Mem Shannon is the former New Orleans taxi driver who started a career as a blues artist two decades or so ago. He brought a very recognizable approach to his music, with soul accents and lyrics that told stories, not simply some catchy lines with hooks. It has been some four years since Northern Blues issued his last album, although he is now associated with the Threadheads and his next project will be for Threadhead Records. The following review was written in 2007 for Jazz & Blues Report, but was not published.
The former New Orleans taxi driver, Mem Shannon, has just issued a new CD, Live: A Night At Tipitina’s (Northern Blues), which presents his immediately recognizable blend of soul, funk & blues. He is backed by his band, The Membership, that includes Joshua Milligan on the drums, Robert ‘Rhock’ Dabon on keyboards, and Angelo Nocentelli on bass which is augmented by saxophonists Jason Mingledorff, Joe Cabral and Tim Green and revisits staples of his repertoire as Payin’ My Dues, Who Are They? and Phunkville along with unusual covers of The Neville Brothers’ Voodoo and Tom Petty’s I Won’t Back Down.
There will be no surprises to Shannon’s fans, as his studio albums have captured his sound pretty well with his soul-laced singing, his witty, ironic lyrics and tight funk grooves that are laid down. The performances are a bit lengthier giving him and the band a chance to stretch out (although one might suggest a couple songs are a tad long, but otherwise this can safely be recommended to his fans and for those unfamiliar with the body of his recordings, this set certainly is a good place to become acquainted with his distinctive music.
I received my review copy from either the label or a publicist.