It’s Gospel Time.
Somewhere around the turn of the century, Miss Neesie
& the Ear Food Orchestra, a San Antonio, Texas blues,
zydeco, rock ‘n’ roll, etc. bar band, got religion.
Ah, that’s not quite accurate and a Gospel album needs
to be as accurate as possible. Most of the Ear Foods
had religion. But, inspired by the Austin-based
Imperial Golden Crown Harmonizers, and their Sunday
Gospel brunches that benefit various charities, Ear Food
decided to find a place where the band could sit down
now and then on a Sunday, play Gospel music, old-school
and otherwise, and work to raise some money to help people
who need help.
Barbara Wolfe and Steve Silbas, owners and operators of
Casbeers, a most soulful bar, grill and live music spot at
1719 Blanco Road in SATX, were hip to the idea. In February
of 2002, the monthly Casbeers/Ear Food Gospel Brunch was unveiled.
Thanks to Casbeers, EFO fans, friends, family, people
in search of an excellent buffet at a reasonable price
and, no doubt, the Grace of God, the brunch has been going
strong for five years. We’ve been able to realize our goals of
helping some people while making music that’s inspirational
and big fun to play. We hope “Gloria Chords” helps you have
your own inspired fun. And come join us at Casbeers.
The Ear Food Orchestra:
Miss Neesie Beal – Vocals
Ronnie Biediger – Accordion, Vocals, Choir Direction,
Allen Elsasser Jr. – Guitars
Ollie Morris – Drums, Vocals
Jim Beal Jr. – Electric Bass
The Howling Dog Horns:
Mike Davis – Trombone, Harmonica, Vocals
Rich Tellez – Trumpet
Bill McMenamin – Baritone & Tenor Saxophones, Vocals
Bobby Rey – Tenor Saxophone (all the tenor solos)
Engineered & Mixed by Allen Elsasser Jr.
Produced by Ear Food
Recorded at The Smoke House
Mastered by Robin Smith at Serendipity Music
Cover Art: Neesie & Ollie
Graphics Assistance: Jerry Clayworth
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of
“Gloria Chords” will go to help people
who need help.
Copyright and published 2007 – Streak Records
What the press has to say about Ear Food:
If semi-organized pandemonium stirs your blood, then show up some night for this band, folks. Audience participation is mandatory, which is what makes for such a rousing good time with Miss Neesie and the Ear Food Orchestra, the longest-running premier blues/zydeco act in San Antonio.
Mardi Gras beads will be thrown at you. Everyone gets their own noisemaker. And the band goes wireless amidst throngs of revelers. No sleeping or yawning is allowed, as the varied flavors of Southern Louisiana-Texas smack your head awake.
Besides two-steps, waltzes and the best of Cajun and zydeco, the wonderful blues growl of Miss Neesie Beal guarantees constant entertainment, which is difficult to part with even at 2:00 a.m. with bouncers at your heels. – San Antonio Blues Society
I headed out last weekend for San Antonio (a big road trip) with my two buddies, rock and roll Carol and Teresa. We rolled into Carlsbad Tavern on West Avenue near Blanco in time for the kick-off of Miss Neesie and the Ear Food Orchestra. Although this small club has hosted Leon Russell, Marshall Tucker, Ponty Bone, Terry Allen, Ray Wylie Hubbard and Terri Hendrix (to name a few), the Ear Food Orchestra did fill up the corner stage. What a party it was--Zydeco all the way with vintage blues thrown in for good measure. I make sure I received one of the party gifts--a plastic bottle filled with beans, tied with ribbon and soaked in glitter. I did play along with the rhythm section--as did everyone in this packed house. We were there to celebrate a special occasion. Miss Neesie, elementary school teacher by day, was celebrating her 50th birthday. Now this band always throws a party, holding down a regular summer gig in Port Aransas, but Saturday night, January 27, was a different kind of party. We celebrated a significant passageway, the turning of 50. And Miss Neesie does NOT even come close to looking her age!
Dressed in black, covered with stars, she growled (a Neesie speciality), wailed and moaned the music. I especially liked "School Teacher Blues." What a party to throw in this Tavern of Texas heritage. February 2, Kinky Friedman and Billy Joe Shaver performed. I'm excited to be signing my book on Texas songwriters on this brief tour. I talked briefly with owner Julie Palmer. "We've had this place five years. We love the music, and the place has character." She was sitting at the front door taking the cover charge.
The Ear Food Orchestra includes another one of my heroes, Jim Beal. He plays bass as Rakeem (or something like that), but he writes a great column for the San Antonio Express News. The horn section added a Louisiana sound, mixed with harmonica, drums, and guitar. We even had a fratoirre solo (or fratois). At the end of the evening, Neesie moved out through the audience with her polaroid camera, giving audience members the gift of a photo. Such a party! – Kathleen Hudson – Texas Heritage Music Foundation
Miss Neesie and the Ear Food Orchestra play traditional zydeco and Cajun music in an untraditional manner. The fun-loving group distributes plastic bottles filled with cat litter to audience members willing to help out with percussion, often strolls into the audience while playing, and occasionally even dances on the bar.
A fifth-grade teacher in San Antonio during the school year, Miss Neesie takes on the persona of a Louisiana queen when on stage. Though neither she nor the members of her band are Creole, they're fascinated by the culture's music.
As is tradition, Neesie sings some of the Cajun music in French. Not fluent, Neesie had to ask her school's secretary, a native of France, to help her learn the words to a few songs. "She would read the words to the song very slowly into a tape recorder, and then I'd listen to them over and over again to learn the words and pronunciation," Neesie explained.
Keep your ears open for crowd favorite, "The Ballad of Home Grown Ramone (The Correct and Original Dancing Chicken of San Marcos, Texas)." Corpus Christi Caller-Times
A Review of "Gloria Chords" (and the latest from the Cornell Hurd Band) by John Conquest from the August issue of Conquests Third Coast Music Magazine:
P.S. Both discs got 4 (out of 5) flowers, though the flowers come out as little boxes when translated from the original pdf.
THE CORNELL HURD BAND
BEYOND THE PURPLE HILLS
THE EAR FOOD ORCHESTRA
(Behemoth ❀❀❀❀/Streak ❀❀❀❀) Background checks might reveal other, perhaps even odder, quirks shared by
Cornell Hurd and Jim Beal Jr, but the one most relevant to these here pages is
that both men suffer from an anachronistic compulsion to ramrod large bands.
This nameless eccentricity (nameless mainly because I can’t think of a snappy term
for it, which pisses me off because, you know, that’s my thing) flies in the face of
economic and logistical realities, not to mention common sense, but Hurd
compounds it with a parallel compulsion to put out an album every year. Well,
maybe not every year, but this is the 12th Cornell Hurd Band CD since 1994, so
1995, 1997 and 2000 are clearly the exceptions, not the rule. The most noteable
feature about the latest is that it’s very largely new original honky tonk/Western
Swing material—it’s easy to forget that Hurd, who usually features five or six originals
on each album, has written and recorded more songs than most of Austin’s socalled
singer-songwriters. There is, of course, the obligatory Moon Mullican number,
Moon’s Rock, from Hurd’s forthcoming Mullican tribute album, featuring T Jarrod
Bonta on piano, Sonny Knight’s Dedicated To You and a new version of Hurd’s It’s
Just The Whiskey Talkin,’ but the other 13 tracks are minty fresh. As always with
CHB albums, crediting the musicians, 12 in the core band plus 11 guests, including
Johnny Bush and Amber Digby, would take up an inordinate amount of space, but
I have to make special mention of Hurd’s longtime sidekick, the great guitarist Paul
Skelton, now gravely ill, to whom this album is movingly dedicated. Is this a good
album? Where’ve you been the last 17 years? Of course it is. I’ve said it before and
I’ll say it again, on any given Thursday night there isn’t a better, tighter or more
entertaining group, of any size, playing in Austin than The Cornell Hurd Band.
♦ Beal’s Ear Food Orchestra, which makes very occasional forays out of San Antonio,
is somewhat less prolific, this is only its second release in 23 years, and, at least
compared to the CHB, rather more compact, with a mere nine musicians, five in
the core plus the four-strong Howling Dog Horns. This album is, more accurately,
by The Ear Food Gospel Orchestra, the once a month Casbeers Sunday brunch
incarnation, when the band forsakes its usual regimen of Texas blues, Zydeco, rock
& roll, Swamp Pop and condemnation of golf for that old time religion, testifying
Sister Rosetta Tharpe style. To be honest, I’ve kinda had it with Will The Circle Be
Unbroken and He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands was ruined for me back in
1957 by Laurie London’s adenoidal UK #1 pop hit, but versions of You Got To Move,
John The Revelator, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Wish I Was In Heaven Sittin’ Down,
Holding On And I Won’t Let Go and Curtis Mayfield’s People Get Ready, with Miss
Neesie or Ollie Morris vocals, are masterful. Another highlight is The Devil’s In The
Phone Booth, the lyrics of which Beal stumbled across on the Internet, but he wasn’t
able to track down its source or music, so the Orchestra had to work up its own