Dear Friends,

I’m still living in the studio, it seems. Only last month I recorded and mixed the last tunes for THE ALLIGATOR RECORDS CHRISTMAS COLLECTION, which should be in the stores by the time you read this. Fourteen songs, fourteen different artists, recorded in seven cities, all for your blue yule listening pleasure. We’ve been working on this one for a couple of years, so you can have a blue, blue Christmas. All new recordings; nothing previously released.

Then, only two weeks ago, I finished the mixes for Kenny Neal’s new album. It’s called BAYOU BLOOD and it’s his most pared-down, raw, live-in-the-studio album yet. We cut it down at Bob Greenlee’s King Snake Studio in Florida.

King Snake is about the most relaxed place you could imagine-~the studio’s over Bob’s old three-car garage across from his big, rambling house and just up the way from the fishing lake on the outskirts of Sanford. Sessions start when the engineer arrives and end when it’s time to fry some fish or do some barbecuing… or sometimes sessions end when the sun comes up. Bob’s hunting dogs wandered in and out of the studio, as did the local musicians, who just come to hang out. Songs got written in the living room of Bob’s house, and if we couldn’t locate a slide, we borrowed a shot glass from the pantry!

Instead of the large horn sections that were featured on some cuts on Kenny’s three previous albums, we cut the recording band down to the same instruments Kenny uses on the road–bass {Kenny’s brothers Noel and Darnell alternating), drums (the wonderful Ken Johnson, veteran of so many years with James Cotton) and keyboards (who else but Lucky Peterson?). Kenny took all the solos but one, alternating between his high-powered guitar and his laid-back bayou-style harmonica. He also wrote or co-wrote ten of the fourteen songs himself, so there are plenty of those Louisiana grooves that you can’t get just right unless you were born into the swamp blues scene like Kenny was. If you’ve enjoyed Kenny live (and I imagine most of you have seen him live, as he tours 200 nights a year), BAYOU BLOOD is the record for you. It’s all the sweaty energy of his live shows, captured in the studio. Plus, one acoustic cut!

Now I’m mixing the third album by Saffire–The Uppity Blues Women. It’s called BROADCASTING and with luck and skill it will be out before Christmas, so you have a chance for a holiday dose of uppity-ness. We finally cut Gaye Adegbalola’s version of “One Hour Mama” that’s been one of the high points of Saffire’s live show for so long, plus that very serious song of hers about police brutality that a lot of you have heard about. Ann Rabson’s piano playing just gets better and better and so does her songwriting–check out “Don’t Treat Your Man Like A Dog” {meaning treat your dog better!). Saffire continues to grow, both musically and in popularity. Much thanks to you various Blues Society folks who have been their strongest supporters.

Well, this doesn’t leave me any space to reminisce, so I guess next time I’rl tell you about making BLUES DELUXE, Alligator’s most ambitious and difficult live recording ever. Happy Holiday of your choice!

Bruce Iglauer