Here is what the critics say:
FOOTPRINTS ON THE CEILING
This CD was voted "Best Chicago Blues Album OF The Year", and "Best Blues Production Of The Year" by REAL BLUES MAGAZINE (2002).
“This album is exceptional. It should be considered ‘best blues album of the year’.”
ROLLIN’ & TUMBLIN’ (JUNE 2002)
“This is surely some of the liveliest and most exiting blues to be found anywhere.”
BLUES TIMES (SUMMER 2003)
“As with MISSISSIPPI HEAT’s previous releases, you don’t have to be a harmonica player to appreciate FOOTPRINTS ON THE CEILING. This is good listening music with enough varied texture and creative energy to keep the experience of listening to this CD fresh each time you listen to it. Of course, much of the credit for the success of the band, and this album in particular, goes to harp player Pierre Lacocque who takes advantage of nuances of the harp that most players haven’t even thought about. … Pierre Lacocque has a way with the harp, giving it the right emphasis. Not too much, not too little, just right. And the MISSISSIPPI HEAT does the rest.”
AMERICAN HARMONICA NEWSMAGAZINE (SEP 2002)
“An exceptional CD. … It is a pleasure to hear such a solid blues album of original tunes that can be enjoyed repeatedly … The piece de resistance is the fantastic harp playing by Pierre Lacocque.”
BLUES NEWS (JAN 2002)
“Fantastic. … One of the best Blues group in a while. MISSISSIPPI HEAT is an awesome group. I can happily hear FOOTPRINTS ON THE CEILING over and over again. This CD is just what I was looking for: Something new and exciting. …
This is absolutely one of the best Blues albums I have heard in a long time. Every cut seems to flow ever so smoothly. I find myself hitting the repeat button on my CD player on about every song. … Absolutely perfect! … FOOPRINTS ON THE CEILING boasts a cohesive and astonishing sound. … I can’t stop dancing to this CD and can’t wait to share the musical genius hidden inside this pleasure-full recording with all my friends.”
CD REVIEWS COLLECTED FROM cdbaby.com
“Pierre Lacocque is a superb harmonica player who has succeeded to preserve (Little Walter’s) sound while showing a unique maturity which I keep savoring with every listen.”
LE DEVOIR (MONTREAL)
“Great sound music with horns and back-up vocals! The best sounding blues CD I have heard this year bar none. … (Pierre’s) harp is original and haunting.”
UNSOLICITED FAN’S REVIEW (AMAZON.COM)
FROM THE LINER NOTES*:
This talented group of musicians has been working with Pierre for several years; Kenny Smith for six years, Chris Winters, Steve Howard and Michael Thomas for four years and Roger Weaver for three years. Together they have traveled around the world several times, performed at major festivals and recorded twice. Since our last CD, Handyman, was so well received, we again invited Carl Weathersby and Billy Boy Arnold to work with us.
This recording worked out smoothly from the onset. Rehearsals were efficient and good energy flowed. Pierre had charted all the tunes, rehearsed them in small groups with Steve, Michael, Chris and with the whole band at Roger's house. Goin' Home, our opening song on this CD, was created at one of those rehearsals. We then rented Thirty Fifth Street Studio for more formal rehearsals with the band, as well as with Billy Boy Arnold and Carl Weathersby. Michael Freeman, sound engineer for Grammy Award recordings with Bo Diddley and Billy Boy Arnold, and for our Handyman CD (6th Annual Award for Best CD of the Year from Real Blues magazine in 1999), was there taking notes on arrangements and immersing himself in the project.
Pierre played bass lines and a constant melody so everyone could latch on, and he organized the sequence of solos, selecting those that had worked out best during live shows emphasizing the turnarounds, the bridges and the endings.
The band recorded all the material in Chicago, at Tone Zone on June 11, 12 and 13, 2001 and proved again that they were great session musicians; they could do in the studio what they do on stage. We are fortunate to have a group that values music and harmony enough to work on it honestly and earnestly.
In this sense, Mississippi Heat has remained true to its mantra; all members collaborate and invite each other to bring their own contribution and interpretation. Harmony and a good working circuit do the rest.
Eleven songs are authored, or coauthored by Pierre, one by Chris, one by Katherine Davis and the title track is a cover tune previously recorded by Ruby Andrews. The creativity that Pierre brings to the bandstand and with it, the challenge of learning new tunes and preforming them sometimes on the spot, keeps the band vibrant and spontaneous. (Bob Stroger - a member of our original band - used to tell me that Pierre kept him on his toes with his new songs.)
Pierre always starts with the music before the lyrics come. What he wants us to feel begins in the drums and in the mood, and then finds its expression in words. Yet he understands that voice is the most intimate expression of the soul; he does not sing and so he has always relied on a singer. Robert Covington, Deitra Farr, Katherine Davis and now Inetta Visor, all bring their craft and their talent and lend them to sing the songs Pierre wishes he could sing. The business of music is a business of debt and gratitude, of collaboration and of harmony. A lot for us has been very hard work, moments of agony and self-doubt, as well as moments of bliss; a lot for us has also been good fortune and blessings.
Inetta Visor joined us and added the final piece to a group of talented instrumentalists. Inetta has been singing all her life. We are proud to introduce her here to our fans for her recording debut.
Inetta Visor ... Remember that name! She has a voice and she has a way to our depths. She loves to sing and she has the power to stop us from doing whatever we are doing and to make us listen. Inetta was the first person we auditioned when it became clear Katherine Davis was becoming too busy with her own career. We listened to Inetta's renditions of some of our songs and the rest became dream and possibility.
Kenny Smith has been Pierre's drummer for six years now ... the longest, continuous association in Pierre's musical experience. Kenny has Pierre's complete trust; together they keep the pulse and the rhythm of the band healthy and harmonious. They have a wordless connection that reaches deep. Kenny is in great demand as a studio musician. He has performed on drums on more than fifty recordings. Growing up in a home next door where Muddy Waters lived, listening to his dad playing drums for fifteen years with Muddy, all conspired to make him the perfect keeper of our beat. Kenny holds the rhythm with the tips of his fingers, lightly and with a simple ease. Yeat we know that if it was as easy as he makes it look, he would not have to concentrate so intently. In fact, is is in the very intensity of his focus that we see the manifestation of his gift.
Our bass player, Steve Howard, is Kenny's constant companion on and off the bandstand. We see them together teasing, laughing and listening to music on every trip we take. They found a quick connection through their music. They lock and play together in artful harmony, always in concentrated and joyous effort. The work in the studio you hear in this CD is typical of their inspiring association. Steve is always on, ready to play. There is no fumbling around to find his place in the music; he is there before Pierre calls the next song. In times of constant change and hurried pace, we are enormously fortunate to have him play so calmly to sustain our group. He is twenty-six years old (and Kenny is twenty-seven). Young enough to learn and search for Pierre's pulse, and mature enough to keep it with poise when the band rushes ahead with excitement.
Michael Thomas and Chris Winters have played guitar with Mississippi Heat for the past four years. Michael plays deep, soulful chords and blue notes with Chris' melodic, driving and tasteful solo constructions. They both are remarkable in part because they love to play rhythm for each other. They challenge each other for the most tasteful rhythmic accompaniment and their pleasure in performing together often brings audiences to their feet.
Roger Weaver loves to play quietly with the rhythm; he widens the field cleverly and elegantly; he finds ways to sweeten the song while adding to its range. Roger is comfortable in the back with our rhythm section, yet he is always ready to add something at the top. Roger is a creative soloist who needs little time to say a lot.
Billy Boy Arnold and Carl Weathersby were guests on our last CD, Handyman, and they are here again with us. Both sing here. Billy Boy also plays some harp and Carl plays guitar on overy track.
Carl gave us all he had. He is an awesome musician and soloist. But Carl is foremost a team player with extraordinary skills in harmonizing all instruments by tying everything together seamlessly. Carl has an inroad to the soul that leaves him vulnerable some of the time and magnificent all of the time.
Billy Boy is a rare gentleman who offers everything he has every time we play music. We perform together often and with a special fervor each time. He brings with him all the Chicago blues magic of the golden years. We count Billy as part of the good fortune we enjoy. We are proud to have him as our friend and partner.
Katherine Davis, our friend and Pierre's partner on voice for the past four years, has acquired such a reputation as a leading lady that we had to agree to let her follow her own star. We are deeply grateful for your friendship, your gentle ways, your love and all the gifts you have bestowed upon us. We plan reunions on stage, and we look forward to all the family gatherings with you and yours.
Katherine's contributions to our band and to its harmony is celebrated on Handyman! We are proud here to feature her songs, What Else Can I Do? and Goin' Home, coauthored by her as well on this CD. Both songs express deep, soulful longing. Katherine has a knack for letting us in on her private and personal lament and for making us want to sing along! Inetta Visor sings her songs here with feeling and conviction.
Here is a band that records as well as it performs live. What you hear is what you get every night they perform!
To be asked back to work on new recordings for an artist with whom you have established a great rapport is always a delight for any producer, and so it was with great enthusiasm that I accepted Pierre Lacocque's offer to have me join forces with him again to co-produce the next Mississippi Heat album.
We had forged a fine working relationship together on the previous outing "Handyman", to say nothing of the fine friendships that followed along with both Pierre, his brother and "co-conspirator' Michel, and many of the band members and contributors.
Both of us felt strongly that we had to present the current line-up of musicians and the new songs Pierre had written in the strongest possible light and especially so, since the extra attention we had paid to the recordings and arrangements on "Handyman" had received wonderful kudos from so many quarters and continue to do so.
Technically, the recordings demanded a well-equiped and acoustically favorable room with some size to it. Tone Zone was once a gain the obvious choice and made so much happen for me so easily.
"Footprints on the Ceiling" encompasses a huge body of very diverse work indeed, drawing from a wide and deep range of influences within that great musical family of the Blues. Without Pierre Lacocque's unswerving and deep committment to his unique, and I feel, exceptionally refreshing vision, Mississippi Heat would not be able to take us on the rich musical journey it now does.
For Pierre, as bandleader and main writer, Mississippi Heat has always been a vehicle through which he can explore and deliver to both the listener and the live audience, a wide variety of his impressions and interpretations of both traditional and contemporary Blues. Also as a player, it allows us to see in no uncertain terms, that he knows his instrument very well indeed and that the roots of the music he writes and plays are deeply etched into his musical being.
Providing us with such diversity on a record or throughout a live performance, he invites all who particippate and all who listen to really dig deep down inside to discover their own influences and perhaps touch deep and passionate feelings. The result is a wonderful journey through a very different yet often familiar landscape of rich and thoughtfully crafted pieces. He darres not to follow the now well-trodden paths of predictability and gently challenges the listener to consider a more diverse and perhaps a more rewarding collection of work when all is said and done. I admire this greatly.
Working together with Pierre is always a shared commitment to the possible and to strive for excellence. It is thus a truly rewarding experience. It is my sincere hope that in addition to sharing the musical journey we have all taken during the making of this record, the listener will also taste some of the wonderful ingredients and feel the passsion that has been poured and stirred into this next chapter for Mississippi Heat.
For more information on MISSISSIPPI HEAT and its leader, harp player Pierre Lacocque, please refer to the band's website "mississippiheat.net". There you will find an interview with Pierre, pictures of the current line-up, audio and video clips, a press kit, and quotes from the press and professional magazines.
E-mail us at "firstname.lastname@example.org".