Indie Blues CD Review
King Louie’s Blues Revue
Live At Riverhouse Jazz
King Louie Pain was nicknamed “Portland’s Boss of The B-3” by the newspaper The Oregonian. King Louie hails from San Francisco where he started playing professionally in 1970. He moved to Portland in 1986 and works with area blues and soul artists.
From February 1990 until December 2002 King Louie was a member of The Paul DeLay Band. He and guitarist Peter Dammann discovered that the bands 1997 performance at the Notodden (Norway) Blues Festival had been recorded. That performance was recently re-mastered and released June 23rd on Little Village Foundation Records.
King Louie has also played with Tower of Power guitarist Bruce Conte; with gospel vocalist Dorothy Morrison; and with Linda Hornbuckle; Lloyd Jones; Curtis Salgado; Bernard “Pretty” Purdie; Phil Upchurch; Solomon Burke, Howard Tate, and Bo Diddley. Salgado states “Louis Pain is Portland’s best-kept secret. He has a lot of soul…he plays from his heart, not his head. He always plays exactly what the song needs, and that’s an art form. He’s playing what he feels, not what he thinks will impress.”
King Louie and vocalist LaRhonda Steele, “Portland’s First Lady of The Blues”, released their first CD together in late 2015. Downbeat Magazine gave “Rock Me Baby” four out of five stars and in 2016, the Downbeat Critic’s Poll, honored it as one of the “Best Albums of 2016”.
In March of this year King Louie’s all-star blues/soul revue played Bend, Oregon’s Mt. Bachelor Riverhouse Jazz series. The eight member band included Andy Stokes, vocals; King Louie, Hammond B-3; Steele, vocals and tambourine; two time Blues Music Award winner Lisa Mann, vocals and bass; Dammann, guitar; Edwin Coleman III, drums; and the horn section of Renato Caranto, saxophone; and Danny Armstrong, trombone. King Louie says “it’s been a real treat to play with dream bands…and this was no exception…we just picked some of our favorite blues and soul tunes and let the good times roll.”
This live set opens with Roger Collins’ “She’s Looking Good” which became a hit single for Wilson Pickett in 1968. Stokes’ robust vocal is invigorating. The band cooks especially the horn section and King Louie on organ.
The Isley Brothers’ “It’s Your Thing” is from 1969. It was one of the first funk/soul tunes ever recorded. It was released on their T-Neck Records named after their hometown of Teaneck, New Jersey. Steele’s sensual vocal is perfect. Armstrong takes a great trombone solo.
“Two Halves of One Broken Heart” was written by Mann and included on her 2016 album “Hard Times, Bad Decisions”. With an intro and solo by saxophonist Caranto; Mann and Stokes harmonize beautifully on this duet.
“Full Growed Woman” written by Steele is also the opening track on her 2017 album with Ed Snyder called “Yes Please”. This is another strong performance from Steele.
“Doing It to Death” from James Brown was the title track off the J.B.’s 1973 R&B/funk album. All three vocalists sing while Caranto on sax and Armstrong on trombone sound like Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley.
“Let’s Get It On” was the title track, written by Marvin Gaye with co-producer Ed Townsend, from Gaye’s 1973 album. This seven minute song is a fabulous vehicle for Stokes.
“I Just Want to Make Love To You” written by Willie Dixon was first recorded by Muddy Waters in 1954. In 1961 the song was also the “B” side of Etta James’ “At Last”. King Louie’s B-3 opens this great vocal from Steele as Armstrong tales another trombone solo.
“Me and Mrs. Jones” was recorded by Billy Paul in 1972 sung by Stokes and Steele this is hot!
B.B. King’s “Rock Me Baby” first recorded by him in 1964 is reprised again by Steele; Caranto and King Louie take extended solos.
“The Blues is Alright” written by Little Milton was the title track on his 1982 Evidence Records album. This is another shared vocal with more from the horn section and a guitar solo from Dammann.
The set closes with a short improvised trombone duet. If you love old soul and funk you need to hear King Louie’s Blues Revue.