Listen: Sweet Home New Orleans
I’ve never been to New Orleans. The closest I ever got was Shreveport, LA – but that was back when my concept of culture was limited to the Cartoon Network. I had another brush with New Orleans back when I almost decided to go to Tulane but was forestalled by Katrina and my mother. Since then, it’s been this idea of a place that has orbited into and out of my consciousness pretty periodically, bringing with it an idea of food, music, people and story, kickstarting a fascination with a place that has a deep mythology.
My understanding around here is that Little Freddie King IS New Orleans. A staple of BJ’s Lounge, New Orleans Jazz Festival and a master of country blues, he’s the one to go to if you need to get around town; when our French interns Simon and Raphael went down to New Orleans the first time, they got the star treatment hanging out with Little Freddie. His birthday was last Friday, so it’s fitting I sit down with his album “At Home In The NOLA Musician’s Village” and try to suss out the spirit of the City that hovers on the edge of my cultural awareness (and one that has sampled of many artists and outright claimed others.)
“Sweet Home New Orleans” starts out with energy-infused guitar lending it a solid but wistful sound, taking “Sweet Home Chicago” and investing it with a bit more energy and warmth for what is ostensibly a frenetically energetic city in a warmer clime. It’s a song we’ve all heard a million times but Little Freddie makes it home. The original has gotten to a point where it slides in and out of my ears with me barely noticing – which is both good and bad, I guess, depending on your perspective – but Little Freddie’s version here keeps grabbing my attention.
He makes me wistful for a place I’ve never been, nostalgic about something I’ve never experienced and it isn’t as in-your-face cajun-inspired crawdad-gumbo-zydeco-etcetera. It’s just raw and real and very Little Freddie King. Really, I’m digging the entire album.
Photo by Gregg Roth