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album: One of These Days

Captain Luke: One of These Days $12.00

A veteran of the local "drink house" circuit in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Luther "Captain Luke" Mayer sings in a gravelly bass/baritone. Surprisingly, his vocal phrasing-as well as his tendency to segue into spoken passages and then back again into a melody line-sometimes invokes Lightnin' Hopkins, an association accentuated by the inclusion of Short Haired Woman, a longtime Hopkins mainstay, on this set. Mayer also strips B.B.'s Angel of Mercy theme down to its bare-boned essence with a riveting solo acoustic performance, again invoking Lightnin' with his phrasing. But he's far from "just" a bluesman; in fact, he sounds at least as influenced by country music as by blues. This versatility no doubt held him in good stead during his heyday, when he was required to provide entertainment for listeners with diverse tastes. (You Keep Me) Hangin' On is not the old Supremes/Vanilla Fudge pop standard but a countrified version of a ballad that's previously been recorded by Ann Peebles and Joe Simon, among others. Come Back To Me likewise sounds as if it was hatched in a honky-tonk rather than a juke. On these offerings, Mayer's sidemen provide him with low-key but richly textured country-folk backing. Old Black Buck, credited to Mayer himself, harks back to early folk styles, both African American and white-it wouldn't sound out-of-place in a Carolina Chocolate Drops set. His take on Taj Mahal's Farther on Down the Road (unrelated to the Bobby "Blue" Bland standard), in contrast, is buttressed by a gently burbling funk patter, and it's rich with emotional immediacy and understated but elegant sophistication. -David Whiteis, Living Blues
album: Outsider Lounge Music

Captain Luke & Cool John Ferguson: Outsider Lounge Music $12.00

Captain Luke's soothing natural born baritone and Cool John's lightly understated flowing guitar picking blend giving birth to a sweet sound that would "kick the hell out a shotgun",creating a sparkling amalgam of jazzy soulful blues, soulful bluesy jazz, and jazzy bluesy soul, or "outsider lounge music", as the Captain and Cool John call it. Perfect description. The Captain's version of "Rainy Night in Georgia" makes Brook Benton sound like an amateur. "Hotel Happiness" is the instant cure for any sort of frown-faced blues while "Poke Salad Annie" would make your head bob and your toes tap with its droll imagery. On Outsider Lounge Music, Cool John's sound is Wes Montgomery with Piedmont blues and Captain Luke's voice makes me think of Lou Rawls taking a walking tour of the Piedmont. The result is a cohesive album full of wit, pathos, and Southern-fried "ool ya koo" style. Serves as nice music to compliment a country blues cocktail party. -Mark Coltrain