Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Professor Louie & the Crowmatix Crowin' the Blues

Professor Louie & the Crowmatix
Crowin' the Blues
Woodstock Records

Professor Louie & the Crowmatix is a Woodstock, New York based Americana/roots musical group led by Aaron Louis Hurwitz, who collaborated with The Band for over fifteen years. He is a musician and producer, nicknamed "Professor Louie" by Rick Danko, and also a regular at the workshops of Common ground on the Hill in Maryland. Originally a studio band, the Woodstock NY based aggregation who now perform regularly and this is their third album. The Crowmatix are Professor Louie (vocals, accordion, piano, Hammond organ, keyboards); Miss Marie (vocals, percussion, piano); Gary Burke (drums, percussion); Frank Campbell (bass, vocals); John Platania (electric /acoustic guitars); Josh Colow (lead guitar) and special guest Michael Falzarano (guitar).

This is a solid and a very likable set of well played straight-forward blues and roots tunes. Professor Louie and Miss Marie are solid vocalists, although this listener would not call either an outstanding singer. The tone is set on the opening rendition of Marie Adams "I'm Gonna Play the Honky Tonks," with the Professor handling the vocal and taking a nice piano solo. There is chugging groove on the original "Prisoner of Sound" and followed by their rendition of "High Hell Sneakers," with Platania taking a short solo. Miss Marie handles the lead on the melancholy ballad "Love is Killing Me," while there is some rollicking piano and slide on a credible cover of Elmore James' "Fine Little Mama."

Professor Louie handles the vocal on Jimmy McCracklin's "I Finally Got You," with an insistent, driving rhythm. It sounds like an accordion creates hornlike riffs on Big Bill Broonzy's "Why Did You Do That to Me,"  a performance that  suggests the classic "Make Me a Pallet on the Floor." There is a creative reworking of the Jay McShann-Walter Brown classic "Confessing the Blues," erroneously credited to B.B. King. Miss Marie ably handles the lyrics against a solid backing that sounds derived from Ray Sharpe's "Linda Lu." Similarly, they rework the Jimmy Reed shuffle "Bright Lights, Big City," into a slow R&B flavored groove. Jimmy Rogers' "That's Alright," has been covered so often that it takes more than the listenable performance here to leave a deep impression. The album closes with Professor Louie on a bouncy instrumental, "Blues For Buckwheat," an affectionate tribute to the late zydeco legend.

This is a well played and sung recording, with a nice choice of material, but overall while there is  good music here, nothing left a deep impression. I have a feeling I might enjoy them more live than on this recording.

I received my review copy from a publicist. Here is "Love is Killing Me," from the recording.

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