One part Allman Brothers, one part Levon Helm, and one part Howlin’ Wolf, Southern Hospitality is a jam band, a blues band, and a roots band — sometimes all inside of one knee-slapping throwback tune.
Easy Livin,’ due today from Bling Pig, plays like it’s titled, with one come-as-you-are groove after another. Yet, beneath that laid-back exterior, there is a wonder of musicianship and camaraderie surrounding Southern Hospitality.
Growing out of pick-up jam session, the group features three legitimate frontmen, all of them with vocal styles and timbres as different as they are intriguing — very much in keeping Helm’s tenure with the Band.
They’re just as diverse instrumentally: Keyboardist Victor Wainwright’s rolling-88 style imbues these songs with a honky-tonk propulsion, while JP Soars plays in this gypsy jazz style that adds another interesting spice to their bubbling musical gumbo. Damon Fowler, whose debut album was produced by Rick Derringer, adds a swampy slide straight out of Duane Allman’s Muscle Shoals days.
Recorded in Houma, Louisiana, under the watchful eye of Tab Benoit, Easy Livin’ gives each of them a chance to shine, whether it’s trading home-grown lyrics on “Southern Livin’” and “Sky is What I Breathe”; sharing a few laughs on foot-stampingly upbeat numbers like “Shoestring Budget” and “Don’t Boogie Woogie”; or trading salty licks on “Mile after Mile” and “Fred Neck Bones and Home Fries.”
The results burst at the seams with an amiable ambition, not hard to miss for the inattentive, but suddenly impressive once you do. Only guys this good could make it look so easy.