Dear Friends,

I’m happy and proud to announce the signing of a brand new member of the Alligator family. Eric Lindell is an extraordinary roots rock singer and songwriter from California who has built a grassroots following in New Orleans, where he’s lived for the last few years. I can’t call him a blues artist in the traditional sense, but his music is strongly blues-based, with a lot of Louisiana flavor. I believe his songs and grooves will speak to most blues fans just like they spoke to me. When I first heard Eric’s music on one of his self-produced albums, it reminded me a bit of both Delbert McClinton and early Van Morrison, but with a unique ‘old yet new’ sound. When I met him, I wasn’t surprised to find out that he had begun his musical career as a bluesman, influenced by Buddy Guy’s playing on the classic Hoodoo Man Blues album. You can still hear that sparse, intensely rhythmic playing in Eric’s songs. By the time you read this, we’ll have a couple of his songs for you to check out on our jukebox at plus a free download on our “goodies” page. Eric’s new CD, Change In The Weather,”will be released on April 4. Be prepared for a very pleasant surprise.

The same day we’ll be releasing 35×35, a 2-CD chronological collection of 35 prime tracks spanning the 35-year history of Alligator. Starting with the first Hound Dog Taylor session in 1971, these discs feature songs from the debut Alligator releases of some of our most exciting and timeless artists. Plus, it’s two CDs for the price of one! And the extensive, personal liner notes are written by (you guessed it) me. It’s agreat (and cheap) way to hear some of our finest artists and tracks.

I was telling you last time about the making of Showdown!,the monumental 1985 summit meeting of Albert Collins, Robert Cray and Johnny Copeland. After cutting Black Cat Bone, we returned the next day, still with only Albert and Johnny, awaitingRobert’s arrival off the road. We cut Johnny’s roaring, gospel-grooved original Lion’s Den, with Johnny and Albert trading fiery solos. When Robert appeared, the guys jumped into another Johnny original, Bring Your Fine Self Home, with a loping Jimmy Reed-ish beat, Robert adding some tasty rhythm guitar, and Albert’s recorded debut on harmonica! We also cut Albert’s intense version of the amazing Guitar Slim’s (one of Albert’s heroes) Something To Remember You By .It didn’t appear on Showdown!, but we released it later on The Alligator Records 25thAnniversary Collection. Finally, we taped a rocking version of one of Albert’s classic 60’ sinstrumentals, Albert’s Alley.

Albert began the third session with The Moon Is Full, a song that he had been performing for a few years, with a groove inspired by Percy Mayfield’s River’s Invitation, and Robert and Albert sparring on guitar and Johnny B. Gayden and Casey Jones grooving the rhythm. Then we cut Robert’s loping, Latin-flavored bandstand favorite, She’s Into Something. You can almost hear the guys grinning while they play. But the bestwas yet to come. Robert had traveled to Chicago with his producer/co-writer/friend, Bruce Bromberg. The night before, they had gone back to the motel and written The Dream,to be recorded with Robert singing and Albert soloing. It was cut in only a couple of takes (like most of the songs on the session). Albert’s chilling minor key (unusual for him) solo inspired what Ibelieve is one of Robert’s most passionate, brilliant vocal performances ever.

It’s hard to describe the atmosphere of those four days in the studio. These three men loved and respected each other, had shared decades of friendship, and understood that the record we were making was an historic mark for all of them. They were very focused, and determined to deliver performances that would stand the test of time and capture the way they inspired each other. For the most part, the best thing Dick Shurman and I could do as producers was stay out of the way!

More next time,

Bruce Iglauer