Benny Maygarden - Come On, If You’re Coming

(ShortStack Records 1007)
Release Date February 24, 2009

“One of the great south Louisiana CDs of 2009” - The New Orleans Times-Picayune

“#13 of the top Blues, Soul, Gospel, and Zydeco CDs of 2008 and 2009” - Real Blues

“How artists this good can go unnoticed is unexplainable… absolutely blues-infused… full throated harp and superb vocals” – Blind Man’s Blues Forum

“…funky, low-down, hard-edged…excellent” – Blues Revue

“Highly recommended” American Blues Blog

“Boss sounds”- Offbeat, New Orleans


About the recording…

Come On, If You’re Coming is Benny’s first solo release in more than a decade. The studio sessions were held at Camp and Napoleon streets in uptown New Orleans, one block from where Benny first lived in New Orleans 25 years ago. Two blocks away is the site of the legendary (and coincidentally named) Benny’s Bar, a teetering shack of a club where in the late 1980s the (New Orleans) Backsliders had a regular spot on the calendar among the likes of members of the Neville Brothers, Sam McClain (and sidemen such as Wayne Bennett), and numerous other Uptown musical figures.  Down the street is world-famous Tipitina’s, where the Backsliders held a residency; and a hop, skip and jump away was Tyler’s Beer Garden, another residency spot for the Backsliders, where Fats Domino had a reserved seat at the bar.  Some of the music clubs are gone, but the neighborhood is still lively with corner bars, po-boy shops, and the annual two-week frenzy of Carnival time, when Mardi Gras parade flambeaux carriers line up down the block.  Benny moved from the neighborhood to another part of New Orleans years ago, but being back in those stomping grounds, making music, brought back a lot of happy memories. 

For this recording, Benny sought a balance between the spontaneity of straight-ahead Blues and more polished vintage R & B and Swamp Pop sounds.  Benny’s focus is unabashedly “retro” on this outing.  Several of the tunes are adaptations of pre-World War II RCA/Bluebird Blues, by the likes of Big Bill Broonzy, Tampa Red, Big Boy Crudup, Washboard Sam, and Lil Green. Benny electrified them in the way many songs mined from this same source material were electrified by the great Bluesmen of the postwar years.   Other songs reflect the R & B trends of the 1950s and beginning of the 1960s, including Big Maybelle’s rocking “How It Lies,” an updating of Jerry McCain’s “Twist ’62” as “Reduction Twist,” and Wynona Carr’s “What Do You Know About Love,” given a Swamp Pop spin.  Fats Domino’s “What a Price” is a tribute to a New Orleans homeboy, whose material is almost too good to be covered.  Benny’s appreciation of R & B vocal groups of the '50s also shows in his choice of “Don’t Knock” by New Orleans’ Spiders, and “Don’t Hold It” by Georgia’s Blue Dots.  Benny spices things up with his “Too Many Tarzans,” a cautionary tale of what can happen to men lacking women’s influence, and the Katrina-themed “Gutted” (Benny himself escaped the Katrina floodwaters surrounding his house four days after the storm hit).   

On guitars for the sessions were two of New Orleans’ best axemen:  veteran Roots and Blues guitarist Johnny J., and Thomas Walker, one of New Orleans’ brightest new Blues talents.  Benny and Johnny J. were together in Benny Maygarden and the Eightballs during the '90s, and they continue to work regularly as a duo and with a full band in New Orleans and around the Southern region.  Johnny J. recently released his latest CD, Louisiana Rockabilly. Thomas Walker (a skilled multi-instrumentalist) dug down deep into the Blues guitar stylings of the pre-B.B. King paradigm for this record.  Benny continued his tradition of recording with British keyboard players by calling in Bob Andrews, whose resume includes years with Graham Parker & the Rumour and other influential British Rock bands. Bob (now a long-time New Orleanian) is much in demand for solo and band work, and contributed grooving piano and organ on the sessions, as well as background vocals.  The rhythm section players were Jack Carter (veteran of the Delbert McClinton band) on upright bass, alternating with the eternally young Dave Clements on the electric bass guitar.  Dave was bass player in the Backsliders in the early '90s and both Jack and Dave held down the bass for the Eightballs at various times.  Mike Sipos, another veteran New Orleans player, traded the drummer’s throne with Tom Chute on the sessions.  Mike is a French Quarter native and former Eightball who splits his time playing the big beat with rising Swamp Pop star David Egan and several other musical acts.  Tom Chute, one of New Orleans’ most-gigging young Blues and Jazz drummers, also played a variety of percussion instruments (including goat hooves!) on “Too Many Tarzans.”  The saxophones were played by Derek Huston, (formerly of New Orleans’ Iguanas) who now is a free agent with James Hunter’s band, among other acts.  Derek’s beautiful tone on his 1920s Conn tenor sax underlays the Louisiana dancehall groove of “What Do You Know About Love.” The background vocals are re-arrangements of the originals by Bob Andrews and D.C. Harbold.  D.C. is building a reputation as a vocalist in some of New Orleans most interesting bands, including Clockwork Elvis and Junior League.  Adding other support were visiting Welsh bass-baritone Quent Davies (from the Welsh Blues band Ffugiwr) and rhythm boys Hans Hurtt and Red Palmer of New Orleans.  

The recording was sympathetically engineered by Tom Stern, himself a respected New Orleans Roots musician, at his up-to-date Blue Velvet Studio.  The production and engineering sought to attain the ambience of live-in-the-studio analog recording without sacrificing the advantages of the latest digital recording technologies.  The last track was recorded by Blue Velvet Mobile at Mother Tucker’s roadhouse in Morgan City, and captures the flavor of a Benny Maygarden live show.  The release is on Johnny Sansone’s ShortStack label, which promises to develop into a source of some of New Orleans’ best Blues and Roots recordings. 

Contact Benny: 504-388-5605; mail@bennymaygarden.net