When you mix blues, zydeco, rock and jazz in a big pot and bring it to fierce boil, you get Big Al & the Heavyweights latest release, "Nothin But Good Lovin". Produced by one of blue's music most noted producers and the founder of Alligator Records, Bruce Iglauer , this is definitely the band's best effort.
The CD starts out rockin with a swamp boogie, dance craze, called the "Alligator Crawl". Next, the band shifts gears and heads west for the Texas shufflin', title track, "Nothin But Good Lovin".
Like your blues hot and smoking ? The band delivers with "Bad For the Blues". Check out guitarist vocalist, Dangerous Tim Wagoner's red hot lead. Its back to party time with the swinging, "Party Tonite". The harp heads are going to love Harmonica Red's incredible solos on this one. Get your pen and paper out 'cause there's a funky recipe that you'll find in "Good Gumbo." Dr. Dave thumpin on the bass and Big Al's groovin' drums are laying the ingredients down. Guitarist, vocalist, Tim Wagoner breaks out the slide and tears it up on the righteous, southern rockin, "Down To The River". Then its time to hold your sweetheart close and sashay across the dance floor for the swamp ballad "Our Own Love Song" The band stretches out the solos and jams out on "Hard Times". Its down to the Big Easy for the Dixieland inspired, "Carnival Day". Ease on back into the blues with "Uptown Woman" and close out our journey south Louisiana style with Big Al's drumming serving up some "Big Boudin".
If you like your grooves rockin, GUMBO style, this CD is for you. From start to finish, the band delivers a tasty menu of eclectic musical pleasures.
All you have to know about these guys is the fanatical following of "Gumbo Heads" that numbers in the thousands. They drive hundreds of miles to get a serving of Big Al and the Heavyweights musical gumbo. You see, Big Al and the Heavyweights is an unconventional original music band that hails from New Orleans, LA. Why Big Al himself is from The Big Easy. That is where he grew up, surrounded by the sounds of New Orleans music - Jazz, Blues, Zydeco, Cajun, Rock, and Swamp Pop. It is these influences that make Heavyweight music so accessible and fun. Big Al and the Heavyweights will be on the road 240+ days this year, and it is this regimen of hard touring for the last six years that has made them one of the most well known, original bands in any musical format.
The membership of Big Al and the Heavyweights starts with Big Al himself. Born and raised in New Orleans, LA, Al is a real New Orleanian, going to MardiGras after Mardi Gras, seeing the sights of Mardi Gras through the eyes of a child. That same wonderment and jubilation comes through Heavyweight music - the music that helps people forget about the news du jour. None other than head Blues Brother, Dan Akroyd, has described Al as the "pounding, driving force" of Heavyweight music. Incidentally, Dan is a big supporter of the Heavyweights, playing all three of their CD's on his syndicated House of Blues Radio Show. They even play at the Chicago House of Blues for 2 to 3 nights in a row three times a year! But Dan Akroyd is not the only high profile celeb that knows the power of Big Al - Chef Emeril Lagasse tapped them to be musical guests for his season premier of Emeril Live!
Lead vocalist/guitarist, Tim Wagoner, is to the Heavyweight sound as crawfish are to etouffees. His melodies and music fit his raw, consistently powerful vocals. His guitar solos start out warm and subtle and progress to pure explosive power. Wagoner hails from the Texas school of Blues where he lived in Dallas for years, honing his vocal, guitar, and songwriting skills by working with the likes of Karen Bella, and sharing the stage with Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Delbert McClinton.
Bassist and vocalist, Dr. Dave Burns, a native of Waycross, Georgia and a member of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, has a unique style and expertise that comes from a career that has spanned more than 30 years. Living the Blues, working venues from roadhouses to concert halls, Dr. Dave has performed with a wide range of artists from Canned Heat, White Witch, and Storm, to Willie Nelson and Earl Thomas Conley. His strong grooves fit the Heavyweight sound like a hand in a glove.
Often compared to War's Lee Oskar, George Heard, AKA Harmonica Red, began playing harmonica in his native Baton Rouge at the age of 15. He was a pivotal member of the late, legendary Clarence Edwards Band that garnered critical acclaim on several American and European tours with Albert King, Albert Collins, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Splitting time between the studio and stage, Harmonica Red has performed and recorded with Gatemouth Brown, Little Feat, The Radiators and Zachary Richard. This is what "Wavelength" had to say, "He's mastered every blow and draw, from slow and soulful wailing to lightening runs and jazzy chromatics."
Big Al and The Heavyweights began in 1992 as the Unknown Blues Band with founding members Warren Haynes and Al Lauro. The two met at a blues jam session at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, TN. They quickly found a common interest and that was their love of music especially the blues. Soon they put the U.B.B. together and began performing every chance they got. The band started getting a lot of notoriety for their lengthy sets and their ability to fuse their many musical influences into a powerful brand of blues.
The band started opening for many acts. One such act was B. L. T., which included Dickey Betts, Chuck Leavall, and Butch Trucks. Dickey Betts was truly inspired by Warren's incredible guitar prowess and soulful vocals and offered him a gig in a band he was putting together. Naturally, Warren took the gig and the rest is history. He went on to become a major force in The Allman Brothers Band in which he currently plays as well as his own band, Gov't Mule. As for Big Al, he had lost an incredible guitarist and vocalist but never a friend. The only thing left to do was to move on and that he did; putting together a new band and landing a record deal with Scott Mullins' Rollin and Tumblin Records to create Big Al and The Heavyweights. Big Al and band began touring the country relentlessly focusing the band's sound more on his Louisiana roots and turning as many people as possible onto the music that began being called "Gumbo Grooves". Their first CD, "That Ain't Nice", received critical acclaim from all the major blues societies and publications. Finally, the big break came when Dan Akroyd featured the band's song "House Party" on his House of Blues Radio Show as the Blues Breaker of the Week. Next, the CD was nominated for Blues Album of the Year by one of largest entertainment organizations in the U.S., the Nashville Entertainment Association. The band was honored to have been nominated along with fellow nominees: Roscoe Shelton, Earl Gaines, and Jimmy Hall (who won) formerly of the famous southern rock band, Wet Willie. The band's next CD was recorded on the Bluziana Music record label and was entitled "Hey, Hey Mardi Gras". Once again, number one Blues Brother Dan Akroyd took notice and featured the song "Cajun Roux" on his House of Blues Radio Show garnering the band even more attention. "Hey, Hey Mardi Gras" was also nominated for a Nammy Award for Blues Album of the Year by the N. E. A. along with Delbert McClinton (who won), Johnny Jones, and Bonnie Raitt guitarist, Rick Vito.
After an internet broadcast from the famous J & J Blues Bar in Ft. Worth, TX The band kept getting requests for a live CD. Hence, they recorded "Live Crawfish" captures the band with all their energy and power. It has been very well received and was featured on the House of Blues Radio Show. The latest studio CD entitled "Late Night Gumbo Party" was recorded with noted blues producer, Fred James, at the helm. Fred has worked with KoKo Taylor, Johnny Winter, Charlie Mussellwhite and Son Seals. "Late Night Gumbo Party" once again caught the ear of Dan Akroyd and he featured the song, "Hey, Hey Nanette" as the Blues Breaker of the Week. He also interviewed Big Al on the show. The CD charted at # 4 on the Living Blues play list charts.
"Emeril Cooks Up Some Gumbo Grooves"
The Food Network's, Emeril Lagasse, heard a copy of "Hey, Hey Mardi Gras" and loved it. He had the producers of his show, "Emeril Live", get in touch with the band about a performance on his Mardi Gras show. It was the premier show of the season and the seventh most popular show on cable television for the week with a viewership of 43 million people across the U.S. The response from the show was nothing short of amazing. Bluziana Music had to rush to have more copies of the CD pressed just to keep up with the internet and mail orders. That exposure has earned the band much deserved recognition and spots on some of the biggest festivals in the country. The band has also been featured on the Cajun and Creole cooking shows of "Emeril Live"
Song Writing Recognition and Mardi Gras Records
Recently, Alligator Records had their latest artist, Michael Burks, record "Make It Rain" for his premier release for the label and the cd's title track. Zydeco's reining king, C. J. Chenier, has just recorded "Eat More Crawfish" for his upcoming Alligator CD. Both songs can be found on "Live Crawfish" and "Hey, Hey Mardi Gras". The band is also featured on a new compilation CD entitled; "Ultimate Mardi Gras" on New Orleans based Mardi Gras Records. Other artists on the CD are Professor Longhair, Earl King, The Rebirth Brass Band and Rockin Dopsie
In closing, when speaking of Big Al and the Heavyweights, they can best be summed up by saying they are a real band. They are a band that does it the old fashioned way - club-by-club, fan-by-fan. They have an active mailing list that numbers over 7,000 names. They play all of their own music - over four CD's worth. The band plays from Maine to Key West to Corpus Christi to Minnesota to New York City and everyplace in-between. Here's what Living Blues says in reviewing "Late Night Gumbo Party", "If you're missing the sultry, sticky Crescent City scene and want a quick fix, this CD is for you. "