Planing the sessions started september/october 2014, first i had to find a studio.......
The studio I originally wanted to work in had closed summer 2014 ( Piety Street) I wanted to work at piety street based on the recordings that I liked that was recorded there. After trawling the net I found out that some of the engineers and producers that used to work at Piety street, now worked at the Music shed studios. I sent the studio an email and manager Ruby Rendrag was very easy to work with, When I explained what I was aiming for she clearly understood .
We arrived in new orleans late wednesday feb 18…. ash wednesday … Mardi Gras had ended and the city was litteret with beads and with the full moon decending...
I had a list of musicians that I wanted to work with and the most important for me was to have the best possible bass/drummer combo aviailable. On my shortlist was amongst others Doug Belote, a drummer I have had contact with of and on for over 10 years , ever since I bought his loop cd, and who has risen to become one of the top names , and is sought after by artist like Sonny Landreth , Tedeschi /Trucks band, Jerry Douglas, Anders Osborne , Jon Cleary …( check out the Eric Clapton Crossroads festival 2010 video!)
So when Ruby suggested Doug I contacted him straight away and he was keen to do it.
George Porter jr. has been a favourite bassist of mine since I first became aware of the meters in the early 1980-ies. We had been facebook “friends” for about 4 years and so when I messaged him , he agreed to do the project.
I was very pleased with getting this rhythm section, Joe Rusis music as I see it, mixes funky blues with soul, and theres probably not anyone better than George Porter Jr in that respect.
I had originaly thought that a upright bass would fit some of the songs but with George on board I didnt think any more about it.
I wanted a keyboardist in the Professor Longhair/James Booker/Dr John tradition ( turned out most keyboardplayers in NO are :) ) and on Dougs suggestion I contacted John “papa” Gros , a guy I didnt know too much about exept for what I had seen on youtube etc. It turned out it was a good call, what a guy! exelent player.
Next was horns: On Rubys suggestion i contacted Mark Mullins , bandleader of Bonerama and a much used arranger. after some negotiations we sent him demos for 4 songs . And he set us up with an exelent horn section consiting of him, Alonzo Bowens on tenor and Robert Campo on trumpet from Dr Johns band.
On Rubys suggestion Leslie Blackshear Smith and Kiki Phillips was hired to do backup vocals on 4 songs. WOW!
Monday morning prior to our trip, George tells us his mother has died and is to be burried the following saturday ( our day 2) , I tell him not to worry about it , and with the help of Doug, James Singleton, is contacted and agrees to do the job. I have been a fan of Singletons work for years Professor Longhair, James Booker, Johnny Adams. Not a bad replacement at all…. AND upright bass is back in the project.
After a day of recouping from the long journey we started in the studio friday morning. We arrived around 9:30 at the music shed studios on Euterpe street, no more the 4 blocks from where we where staying. The Studio is built inside an old streetcar stable .
We first meet Wes Fontenot who is engineering the sessions and Adam his assistant.
The Musicians arrive at 10 and the vibe is good from the get go. to set the tone for the session we start with 2 New Orleans songs Earl Kings “make a better world “ and Allen Toussaints “Play something sweet (brickyard blues)” The drums are set up in a separat room , bass and keyboards are in the main room and Joe does guitar and scetch vocals in a booth. I do some aditional slideguitar on 2 tracks from the control room.
We cut 6 songs friday.. catering is brought in : fresh jambalya and Fiji Water.
Doug drives us home after the session, and after a quick snack its of to bed. Due to Jetlag I wake up very early, when I check Facebook saturday at 7 am Doug pops up: he has puked the whole night passed out on his bathroom floor (turns out to be a 24 hour stomach flu... NOT foodpoison ) . He is no shape to work in the studio but has left a message on Johnny Vidacovich’s phone …. Johnny V confirms one hour later and voila … suddenly we have Professor Longhair and James Bookers rhythm section on our record.
So day 2 starts with fresh faces, 2 substitutes, but a team that has played togheter for over 40 years, The tone is as good as it was the first day and we cut 5 songs saturday, as planed …. For lunch John Gros has brought in some delicious Boudin and sausage with brown sugar … jummy! We finish early.
Sunday the Hornsection comes in at noon and we dub 4 songs with Mark Mullis’ exelent arrangments. The singers comes in at 4 and deliver stellar performance.