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Strictly Country Magazine Beau Weevils title

Music is the catalyst for the mind…

it will empower you to travel...

 

By: Gina Kay Singerhouse

Editor

 

   Some of the greatest legends come from some of the most bizarre places and this one beats all.  I have heard of the legend of a man so musically talented that with just one song, he could bring the music industry to its knees.  When you hear of a story so great, one just has to seek the truth for herself.

   My quest takes me down in Louisiana, just off the west Pearl River, in a place called the Bayou.  The only way you can get there is by boat, and you’d better know where to go because if you don’t, you just may find yourself lost.

   The area is beautiful with the tall bald cypress trees rising from the dark murky water.  It’s as if Mother Nature lost the battle, the battle called control.  There are no mowed and manicured lawns in the bayou, just various foliage that creates a world known only to a few.

   We leave the safety of the Pearl River and head down a small inlet.  It’s early morn, but it feels like the end of the day as the Spanish moss hanging off the cypress trees provides cover from the bright sun light.  As we travel further in, the world becomes quiet.  Nonetheless, you can hear a splash or two as alligators make their way into the water.

   Out in the distance, I see the vibrant white of a ibis walking along a fallen tree.  I’ve been told that there are vultures, hawks, and egrets; but we didn’t see any while we traveled the water ways.  I am also warned about opossums, muskrats and armadillos too.

   The smell of the salty marsh air tickles the nose.  Just as you get a good whiff of the delicate earthy aroma, it quickly turns to the stench of decay.  The smell of dead wood, plants and dead fish are all part of the scent that is the bayou.  Every once in a while, your nose is treated to the wonderful aroma of gumbo or jambalaya cooking on an outdoor fire next to a home.

   We pass inlet after inlet and I wonder if my guide really knows where he is going, or is he just speculating.  There are no maps for the bayou and for me, it all seems like just a guessing game.  After a bit or two, we take a left down a smaller inlet.

   Thirty minutes pass and it is in the silence that I hear the faint sounds of music.  As we travel further in, the music gets louder and louder.  I train my ears to try and pick up what instruments are playing.  I can hear a guitar and perhaps the sound of a drum; but what I hear is something far more skilled than anything I have heard in my twenty-six years in the industry. The painful wailing cry of the guitar pierces my soul as if it was stabbed with a knife.  I had never heard such pure raw emotions as I heard on this day.

   My guide begins to slow the boat down as I see what can only be described as a shack come into view.  The tin roof looks like it had seen better days.  The rest of the house was hidden among the fallen trees and various foliage, nonetheless, I could make out the simple A-frame structure.

   The boat came to a stop next to a small dock.  Just off the dock was an outhouse, one that I hoped I would never have to use.  As I proceeded down the path, the lower part of the shack came into view.  Nailed above the porch was the skull of a long dead gator.  A cast iron bath tub sat on the left side of the stoop and a clothes line hung from the nearest tree to one of the post holding the porch roof up.  A metal cross was nailed upon the wooden door. 

   Sitting upon a tree stump, near the front door, was a man.  He was dressed in bib overalls with an old ball cap on.  His eyes were hidden behind a pair of sunglasses.  As my eyes adjusted, I could see that his once blond hair, now had streaks of gray. He ran his hand through his long white beard and he reminded me of Santa Claus with his paunchy belly.

   He just sat there with a guitar in his lap looking at me like I was from the IRS.  I had been pre-warned that “bayou people don’t take to kindly to strangers.” Nevertheless, I had come to see the man behind the legend.

   “Are you Mr. Weevils, Beau Weevils?” I asked.

   With a gentle nod of his head and a smirk upon his face, he launched into a song on his guitar.  From the first note from that first song all the way to the last note of the last song, he had me mesmerized to the point that I thought I was under some kind of Cajun Voodoo spell.

   Music is the catalyst for the mind, the heart, and the soul.  When music is created accurately, it will generate an euphoria of emotions.  These emotions will empower you to travel, within your mind’s eye, to places you have since forgotten and places you have never been.  The new acquisition by Beau Weevils, does just that.

   In 2018, Charlie Daniels teamed up with producer and drummer James Stroud, and guitarists Charlie Hayward and Billy Crain; to create an alter ego named Beau Weevils.  It is through Beau Weevils that they released their project called Songs In The Key of E.

   “We had so much fun, in the studio, working together. It was just a really pleasant time.  We was always playing practical jokes on each other and stuff.” tells Charlie Daniels about how the record came about.  “I wanted to work with him [James Stroud] as a musician, as a drummer, because I just loved the way….he’s one of the most soulful drummers I’ve ever been around.  So, we kept talking about it. We’d see each other once a year...yeah we gotta do something, let’s do something.  We never had songs.  We never had a vehicle to attach our dream to until I started writing these tunes.  I just had an idea for some songs and started writing the tunes that were kind of in the same vein and I talked to James, and we said lets get together and cut this.  So we did.  We got together with a couple other guys and put down this album, that’s how it turned out...we’ll just call ourselves the Beau Weevils and that’s how it all came about.”

   Joining Charlie and James on this musical adventure is Charlie Hayward, bass player for the Charlie Daniels Band.  The trio knew that they needed another guitarist, one who could associate with the swampy rock style that they were aiming for.  The boys found it in Billy Crain, guitarist for The Allman Brothers Band.  Together, these four musicians created a natural and artistic masterpiece.

   From the very first note, the quartet takes you on a journey through a Delta, bluesy, swamp style of southern rock.  Each of the songs are captivating within their simplicity and naturalness.  More so, with its variety, the album is quite unconventional than those found in country music today.  The impetus behind such diversity comes from Charlie Daniels.

   “I come from a time...I’ve been asked this—why all the variety that I am involved in and why we keep doing different albums, and different styles and why do we incorporate different styles—I think the reason for that is that I came along in 1936 and of course radio was king.  There was no television and there were not that many stations. So stations had to cover their mandate and really do something for everybody. So they played all kinds of music; they played country, they played Big Band, they played Gospel—so I got such a wide variety of music growing up that I just learned a lot about...learned to love it, learned to play it, to deal with it.” shares Daniels.  “So when I started writing original music, I think some of all of it kind of drifted in, into the mix there...I still have things I haven’t done yet.  No telling what I might get into next…”

  For now, Charlie and company bring us to the bayou with ten entertaining songs.  The infusion of the blues mixed with southern rock with a hint of Cajun is well pronounced within this project. 

   “It’s not because of me, it’s because of all the people playing...James is from Louisiana.  I’m from North Carolina.  Charlie Hayward is from Alabama. Billy Crain’s from Tennessee.  Four southern boys, doing what they were bred to do.” tells Charlie.  “If you’re from the south, your exposed to the blues.  It’s where it came from. It’s where most—most of the big, really good blues people came from. I think that you understand it better, when it gets right down to the dregs of it…I think that if you get four people together that—we had a common goal. We didn’t know what it was gonna sound like until we got through with it, but we would know when we got there.”

   One of the greatest characteristics about the United States, is that each region boasts an identity that the other regions are unable to duplicate.  Sure you can find blues in Chicago, but it differs than that of New Orleans.  The southern blues comes from an origin of hard times.  Its source has shaped much of our nation’s history.

   When you get four talented musicians together, whose genetics derived from nearly the same region, what you get can only be described as phenomenal!  Each player brings to the project his individual southern influence.

   The project opens with “Geechi Geechi Ya Ya Blues.”  The tune begins with a catchy guitar riff that is infused with southern rock while mixed with a Cajun flare.  Although the foundation of the song is blues, it’s that Cajun essence that will spice up your attitude.

   The spiciness continues with “Bad Blood.”  Performed in a pure southern rock mentality, this song carries a solid storyline that is enhanced with a clever chorus mixed with a passionate guitar riff.

   The one song that rightly doesn’t fit amongst the other nine is “Mexico Again.”  Then again, this is Charlie Daniels and he never ceases to surprise us with his vast talents.  Performed in a Tex—Mex style, this tune tells a great tale. You can view the video of this song below...

   The entire album is packed with artistic elegance to the point that we have nominated it for the Spirit Award’s Album of The Year Award.  There are so many incredible songs on this album, that it was hard for us to choose which ones to pull and nominate for the Spirit Award’s Song of The Year. 
  The first song we took into consideration was “Louisiana Blues.”  Daniels claims that this song is his wife, Hazel, favorite.  Performed in the classic New Orleans blues, this is the song that authentically exhibits the organic blend of these four musicians.

   Another song that earned a nomination and will hit our list of Top Songs of 2019 is “Smokey’s Got Your Number.”  The Weevils pay homage to all the hard work the men and women in blue, with this classic southern rock tune.  About the only thing missing from this song is Burt Reynolds, Jerry Reed and Jackie Gleason.

   The third song that we chosen for nomination is “Mudcat,” the song that apparently initiated this project.

   “Let me...tell a story about one of the songs, the one that started it off...I had a guitar riff, I don’t know how long—I guess years.  When I would practice my guitar, I’d sit down and run scales a lot of times.  I’d play this tune, over and over and over again and I could never get a lyric idea to it and then I finally got a lyric idea to it.” tells Charlie, who wrote all ten cuts on the album.  “I started getting this idea for this kind of Robert Johnson sort of story. I sat down and wrote this [Mudcat] thing.  Then I started writing and other songs started coming to me in the same vein as that one.  I got a hold of James and said I’ve got some songs here...what do you think? He said lets do it, this is what we’ve been looking for!”

   “Mudcat,” with its distinctive brilliant guitar riff, is beyond question the foundation for the project.  The  haunted bayou storyline will capture your attention, especially with the memorable chorus.

   Although each of the cuts on this project deserve a nomination we broke it down to four.  The final song we chose is “Everybody’s Gotta Go Sometime.” Performed in a lazy Mississippi delta blues mentality, the group captures the finality of death and softens the discomfort of the subject with a cheery melody.

   It is not a Charlie Daniels infused project unless there is a patriotic song.  “How We Roll,” captures the southern, redneck patriotic beliefs within the lyrics.  Other songs include “We’ll All Have Some” and “Oh, Juanita,” both worthy of mentioning.

   What makes this album stand out among the others is the freedom contained within.  Most songwriters and musicians lack the artistic freedom it takes to create good music.  Today’s country is completely formulated, mass and overly produced.  In this album you will find the simplicity of four musicians playing four musical instruments to create a precise harmonious album.

   “It was such an easy project, it didn’t take long at all.” shares Daniels. “We didn’t have a whole bunch of...all these things that people use...they use now a days to make music with.  The lutes, the this and the that and all of the other stuff I don’t even know anything about. It was just one of those fun things that just happened real quick and you almost hate when it’s over with...you think gosh I’d like to do some more!”

   When music is this good, it will capture and embrace you, and you will embrace it.

   There I sat on a rickety old porch, in the bayou, listening to an authentic musician.  I watched as his fingers danced up and down the neck of that old instrument he played.  My ears listened as the cypress trees echoed the fervent guitar licks. My soul traveled to the farthest reaches of my mind; while my nose picked up the subtle smells of the bayou.  When the last note was played, I opened my eyes to find that I had never left the confines and safety of my office.  Somewhere in my mind I heard these words…

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Let the good times roll!

 

(© Strictly Country Magazine March / April 2019.)

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