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FEATURES -- Louisiana Swamp Stomp

Kenny “Beady Eyes” Smith talks about

Louisiana Swamp Stomp

Kenny Smith by Jennifer
photo: Jennifer Wheeler

Blues drummer Kenny Smith explains the story behind this benefit CD, which pays tribute to the amazing ability of Louisiana’s disaster victims to survive, despite insurmountable odds, with a little help from their Chicago friends

Louisiana Swamp Stomp CD

 

By Dawn O’Keefe Williams

 

 The Louisiana Swamp Stomp CD (Honeybee Records) is a celebration created straight from the heart.  It is pure joy and has a down home feel to it. The music is genuine and radiates the warmth and love that the musicians involved in this project feel for Louisiana and its musicians who have suffered and survived so much in the last few years. The proof stems not only from the inception of this CD but throughout each step to completion.  The joy is evident in each track of music.  From the songwriters, the performers and the producers to the artwork, the CD booklet and every person that was involved in the project, this CD is clearly a testimony to Louisiana, the helpful Chicago connection and the blues.

 

This gumbo of American blues features a mix of Louisiana’s natives such as Percy (“When A Man Loves A Woman”) Sledge and Charlene Howard who each sing a soulful ballad .  Carol Fran treats us to some Creole with “Tou’Les Jours C’est Pas La Meme (Everyday is Not The Same).  This song is pure fun!  There is also Sonny Landreth, Henry Gray (who played piano for Howlin’ Wolf), Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural, Jr., Dwayne Dopsie, Little Freddie King, Larry Garner and Buddy Flett.

 

Our own Windy City heroes a play a big part, too: drummer Kenny “Beady Eyes” Smith, harp player/singer Omar Coleman (who performed with Kinsey Report, John Primer and Chico Banks) as well as legendary veteran bass player Bob Stroger, and Billy Flynn on guitar. Together our Chicago musicians perform Slim Harpo’s “Scratch My Back” on the first track and Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Mojo Hand”.

 

Louisiana blues musician Buddy Flett and his near-deadly bout with encephalitis was the catalyst for the creation of Louisiana Swamp Stomp CD. His miraculous recovery mirrors Louisiana’s strength and ability to survive despite insurmountable odds such as Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill. Inspired by these events and Flett’s struggle,  Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith and harp player Omar Coleman  reached out to Northern Louisiana Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Foundation board member and Honeybee label owner, Dr. Paul McCarthy and offered their time and talent to help with this project. 

Kenny Smith by Connie
photo: Connie Kenny

 

Kenny “Beady Eyes” Smith, (son of Willie “Big Eyes” Smith) a native Chicagoan, co-produced this CD along with Dr. McCarthy.  This remarkable CD and the reason for its creation were intriguing.  Kenny was kind enough to grant a phone interview immediately after bringing home from the hospital his brand new daughter, Mae Lily who was born on Monday, January 31st,  2011.  Below Kenny talks about the CD and the inspiration that created it.

 

Q: Whose idea was it to create this CD to benefit the Northern Louisiana Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Foundation?

 

Kenny:  It was Paul McCarthy’s idea.  He was the main start.  He got everyone together. Paul and I were just talking and I got really excited about this and wanted to be on board right away.  My whole motivation for this was to give back.  Music is from your heart and you want to give a piece of your heart (to a charity). 

 

Q:  Why was it named Louisiana Swamp Stomp?

 

Kenny:  (laughs heartily) – the fact that New Orleans really got hit –we try to pay homage to Louisiana and the musicians from there.

I feel like the lucky one to be a part of this.  Louisiana got stomped but it came back.

 

Q:  Did the musicians and artists donate their time and talent?

 

Kenny:  Yes, everyone donated.  Paul got everyone on board. It was unbelievable the  amount of time spent to get this done.

 

Q:  Are some of these songs originals?

 

Kenny:  Almost everyone put their own piece of history on this CD.

 

Q: What did you enjoy most about co-producing this CD?

 

Kenny:  I loved mixing and going through the songs.  I can do that for hours and hours on end.  I enjoyed the song selection and the singers.

 

When one musician is down and needs help, the family of musicians stands up and pools together their resources.  The proceeds from the sales are going to the Northern Louisiana Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Foundation.

 

The quality of the CD in its production, selection of songs, performers and artwork is a remarkable gift from our blues community. It is to be savored and enjoyed.  You will surely want to join in the Louisiana Swamp Stomp and share the joy and celebration this compilation brings.  This CD is highly recommended. 

 

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