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Larry Garner: Baton Rouge

Larry Garner touches on his Southern soul, gospel and blues roots on Baton Rouge (Evidence 26106-2; 66:33). Spurred on by guitar partner Larry McCray, Garner digs deep on “Blues Pay My Way,” “New Bad Habit” (about addiction to video poker machines) and a stark duet on “Airline Blues.” There’s a subtle touch of reggae on “High on Life,” some serious funk on “Street Doctor” and a contemporary gospel vibe on the uplifting “Gotta Have Some Gospel.” The rousing closer, “Go to Baton Rouge,” is a warning to blues-hungry tourists to bypass New Orleans, Lafayette and Shreveport in their travels (“If you wanna hear the blues, get on I-10 and come on in to Baton Rouge”). The versatile Garner, a gifted triple threat songwriter-player-singer, even turns in a convincing performance on his countrified “The Haves and the Have Nots,” a paean to the working man that could easily become a modern standard in Nashville. The great session bassist Willie Weeks and the Legendary White Trash Horns enhance this superb outing, produced by New Orleans piano and organ ace David Torkanowsky. But it’s the rare and dynamic chemistry between the two Larrys that makes Baton Rouge one of the best blues albums of 1999.

Originally Published