Monday, March 1, 2010

Ball & Chain -- Louisiana Love Bug

Louisiana Love Bug
Ball & Chain

Cajun-inspired music dominates much of Louisiana Love Bug, the latest album by Ottawa’s Ball & ChainMichael Ball and Jody Benjamin – a duo well known for their excellent take on traditional country music.

In fact, the album was recorded in Louisiana and features back-up from several musicians well-known in Cajun and Zydeco music circles including Dirk Powell of Balfa Toujours who variously plays guitar, bass, piano and accordion; Zydeco accordionist Corey Ledet; pedal steel player Richard Comeaux; and guitarist Mark Trichka. Michael plays fiddle, mandolin, bass and viola, while Jody’s on guitar and triangle.

Either Michael or Jody wrote six of the album’s 13 songs and several including Michael’s kick-off tune “Yessirree,” a high octane rhythmic workout driven by Ledet’s accordion, and Jody’s “Whirlybird,” which starts out in waltz-time and then kicks into high gear, are firmly in Cajun mode. Jody’s “He’s Already Gone,” sounds like a classic country song from decades ago.

Speaking of classic country, they also do fine versions of Roger Miller’s “A Girl Like Me,” Wayne Kemp’s “Love Bug,” and “Open Pit Mine,” an almost folk-like song recorded in 1962 by George Jones.

The album was produced by Dirk Powell, a great musician who’s been in several folk festival workshops I’ve hosted over the years. When Linda Ronstadt was a guest on Folk Roots/Folk Branches in 2006, she was raving about Dirk who had just played on Adieu False Heart, the Zozo Sisters album she’d made with Ann Savoy.

Ball & Chain will be performing Sunday, March 7, 7:00 pm, as part of the Spirit of Rasputin’s concert series at the Elmdale House Tavern, 1084 Wellington Street West, in Ottawa. They’ll open the show and then team up with Michael Jerome Browne as the Twin Rivers String Band.

--Mike Regenstreif

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