FAME Review: Viper Mad Trio - Buddy Bolden's Blues
Viper Mad Trio - Buddy Bolden's Blues

Buddy Bolden's Blues

Viper Mad Trio

Sound of New Orleans - SONO-1076

Available from Sound of New Orleans.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

You know by the very title here that Buddy Bolden's Blues is proudly old-timey, and yer dead right in thet thar conjecture, Jethro, but it also has a very distinctive twist to it. For one, the group is a trio of just guitar, trumpet, bass, and vocals, but the gig's captained by the pixyish Molly Reeves, who's far from a Tinkerbelle…unless Tink's been roller skating around the speakeasy and ogling the boys 'n menfolk, winking and waggling her bustle. There's precious little about Molly that indicates any shade of shrinking violet, no siree. She's half coquette, half temptress, and more than a little vamp—lessee now, that makes three halfs, right?; yeah, that's about right—and Ryan Robertson is constantly beelining around her with a belled trumpet, sassy, perky, and hopsteppin'.

BB's Blues is just plain ol' ribald fun through and through, a collection of a dozen classic tunes and an obscure gem or two (Leonard Feather's Sweet Marijuana Brown, f'rinstance…and, okay, now we know where daughter Lorraine got her too cool off-kilter wont), all given the loving grinning once-over, bassist Kellen Garcia taking up the down-lo with Reeves occupying an interesting zone covering both fetching guitar picking and drum work. Drumwork? Yep! "But, Mark," you say, gobsmacked, "you said there was only gee-tar, (s)trumpet, bass, and vocals!" Well, ya gotta pay attention, Jerome, because what you think is a half-brushed / half-stick bottom rhythm is actually Reeves doing semi-damped strumming and stun-strum that adroitly ape what a percussionist would lay beneath the ensemble.

The promo lit mentions the pre-WWII nature of the disc and refers to Cab Calloway and Louis Jordan—cool!—but don't forget later mad catz like Leon Redbone and Bette Midler, and there's more a trifle of Rickie Lee too, not to mention a smidge of her one-time beau, Tom Waits…minus the cigar-chompin' basso, of course. Yep, this is the kind of music no one with heart and soul, as well as an itch and a yearnin', can pass by. Even God, when he climbs down from that Sistine Chapel thing of his, sparks up the Victrola and lays an ear to precisely this ilk of naughty and humorous hanky-panky. Hey, don't take my word for it, it's in the Bible! Somewhere. I think.

Track List:

  • Buddy Bolden's Blues (Wilber / Rdriguez)
  • 8 9 & 10 (Gaillard)
  • Just Squeeze Me (Williams / Waller)
  • Shorty's Got to Go (Millander)
  • Lotus Blossom (Coslow / Johnston)
  • Bucket's Got a Hole in It (Williams)
  • I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles (Kellette / Kenbrown)
  • I'm Beboppin' Too (Gillespie)
  • I'm Confessin' That I Love You (Neiburg / Daugherty / Reynolds)
  • Sweet Marijuana Brown (FEather)
  • Hot Nuts (Johnson)
  • Viper Mad (Williams / Bechet)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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