Making a Scene Presents an Interview with Big Al!
Big Al and The Heavyweights began in 1992 as the Unknown Blues Band with founding members Warren Haynes and Al Lauro. The two met performing in country outlaw, David Allan Coe’s Band. They quickly found a common interest; their love of music, especially the blues. Soon they put together the U.B.B and began performing at small clubs and festivals. The band began getting notoriety for their lengthy sets and their ability to fuse their many musical influences into a powerful brand of blues.The band started opening for many acts, including B. L. T., which included Dickey Betts, Chuck Leavall, and Butch Trucks. Dickey Betts was truly inspired by Warren’s incredible guitar prowess and soulful vocals and offered him a gig in a band he was putting together. Naturally, Warren took the gig and the rest is history. He went on to become a major force in The Allman Brothers Band in which he currently plays as well as his own band, Gov’t Mule. As for Big Al, he had lost an incredible guitarist and vocalist but never a friend. The only thing left to do was to move on and that he did; putting together a new band and landing a record deal with Scott Mullins’ Rollin and Tumblin Records to create Big Al and The Heavyweights.
Big Al and the band began touring the country relentlessly focusing the band’s sound more on his Louisiana roots and the music that began being called “Gumbo Grooves”. Their first CD, “That Ain’t Nice”, received critical acclaim from all the major blues societies and publications. Finally, the big break came when Dan Aykroyd featured the band’s songs, “House Party” on his House of Blues Radio Show as the Blues Breaker of the Week. Following the national attention, the CD was nominated for Blues Album of the Year by one of largest entertainment organizations in the U.S., the Nashville Entertainment Association. The band was honored to having been nominated along with fellow nominees: Roscoe Shelton, Earl Gaines, and Jimmy Hall (who won) formerly of the famous southern rock band, Wet Willie.
The band’s next CD was recorded on the Bluziana Music record label and was entitled “Hey, Hey Mardi Gras”. Once again, number one Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd took notice and featured the song “Cajun Roux” on his House of Blues Radio Show garnering the band even more attention. “Hey, Hey Mardi Gras” was also nominated for a Nammy Award for Blues Album of the Year by the N. E. A. along with Delbert McClinton (who won), Johnny Jones, and Bonnie Raitt guitarist, Rick Vito.
After a web broadcast from the famous J & J Blues Bar in Ft. Worth, TX The band kept getting requests for a live CD. Hence, they recorded “Live Crawfish” which captures the band with all their energy and power. It was very well received and also featured on the House of Blues Radio Show.
“Late Night Gumbo Party” was recorded with noted blues producer, Fred James, at the helm. Fred has worked with KoKo Taylor, Johnny Winter, Charlie Mussellwhite and Son Seals. “Late Night Gumbo Party” once again caught the ear of Dan Aykroyd and he featured the song, “Hey, Hey Nanette” as the Blues Breaker of the Week. He also interviewed Big Al on the show. The CD charted at # 4 on the Living Blues play list charts. Here’s what Living Blues says in reviewing “Late Night Gumbo Party”, “If you’re missing the sultry, sticky Crescent City scene and want a quick fix, this CD is for you. ” Bruce Iglauer, the president and founder of Alligator Records produced the current Cd, “Nothin But Good Lovin”. It is the bands most eclectic record and has truly defined the band’s sound.
Over the last 20 years, the band has also been featured on national television, after the famed chef Emeril Lagasse heard the album “Hey, Hey Mardi Gras”. The producers of his show, “Emeril Live” reached out to the band, and asked them to perform on his Mardi Gras show, which happened to be the premiere show of the season, and ranked 7 for that week’s most popular cable television show reaching an amazing 43 million people nationwide! The results were amazing, requiring Bluziana Music to rush more copies of the album to meet sales orders. The band has also been featured on other Cajun and Creole episodes of “Emeril Live!”
Big Al and the Heavyweights have also been featured on Mardi Gras compilation CD’s, including “Ultimate Mardi Gras”, recorded by New Orleans based Mardi Gras Records.