Lil' Band O' Gold
News Article: To get the creative juices flowing, it's tough to beat the merits of a pork chop sandwich.
Accordionist Steve Riley and guitarist C.C. Adcock, two of south Louisiana's young musical turks, were chewing over the other white meat at Maison Creole in Lafayette when the lightning bolt struck. "Steve and I had been talking about doing something together for a while," says Adcock, "and then we got the idea to have Warren Storm on drums. So we immediately rushed over to the Four Seasons Lounge to see Warren."
The sound Riley and Adcock were hoping for in their new venture was that loping, deceptively lazy backbeat heard on the bulk of Excello Records' post-1957 output. Storm was the house drummer during that period at producer J.D. Miller's studios in Crowley and propelled such classic hits as Slim Harpo's "Rainin' in My Heart" and "Scratch My Back." For their recruiting mission, Riley and Adcock would ask Storm to revive a segment of his career that he'd since discarded.
"C.C. and Steve started coming to listen to me at the Four Seasons, and they started asking if one day we could get a little jam session together," Storm laughs. "They kept coming, and they talked me into it. I had retired from playing drums for 10 years. I told them I could do one night a week, a couple of hour sets, for a couple of Mondays. Seven months later, we were still doing it."
With Storm supplying the beat, the group -- christened the Lil' Band o' Gold -- had a direct link to the timeless sound of '50s rhythm and blues. "I picked up a lot of my drumming from Charlie Williams, who was with Fats Domino in the beginning," remembers Storm. "Bobby Charles and I used to go to listen to Lee Allen and Paul Gayten play after-hours jobs in New Orleans. They'd play after midnight at the Brass Rail. One time in 1953, they let me sit in with them, and that was a big thrill for me."
It's wholly appropriate that Lil' Band o' Gold took its name from a line in the swamp-pop hit "Big Blue Diamonds" ("behind a little band of gold"), because Storm anchors the band with one of the grand voices of the genre.
"In 1958, I met J.D. Miller through a club owner out of Kaplan," says Storm. "He took me over to the studio. J.D. liked my voice and everything, so we set up a recording session in '58. Mr. Miller wrote a tune for me, `Mama, Mama, Mama,' and then we did a standard, `Prisoner's Song.' That was my first single, and he leased it to Ernie Young of Nashboro Records. It's still my biggest hit. It sold 250,000 records."
With Riley, Adcock and Storm on the frontline, the Lil' Band o' Gold lineup is fleshed out by a who's-who of the south Louisiana music scene, making the group a bayou version of the Traveling Wilburys. Pianist David Egan currently plays with File and is blossoming as a songwriter as well; some of his recent compositions have been covered by the likes of Joe Cocker, Percy Sledge, John Mayall and the late Johnny Adams. Bassist Dave Ranson is a longtime collaborator of Sonny Landreth and is known for his work on John Hiatt's acclaimed Slow Turning.
The horn section -- dubbed the St. Martin Horns -- comprises Dickie Landry, who's performed with the Talking Heads and Philip Glass; David Greely, co-leader of Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys; and Pat Breaux of BeauSoleil fame. The wild card in Lil' Band o' Gold's instrumental mix is pedal steel guitarist Richard Comeaux, currently one of the leaders of Capitol Records' country act River Road.
What draws all these versatile players to a collective vision is the opportunity to stretch out from their established musical environs. The result is a setlist that plays like a dream jukebox from your favorite watering hole, featuring songs such as Arthur Alexander's "Dream Girl," Guitar Jr.'s "The Crawl," Randy Newman's "Hold On" and, of course, a healthy dose of Warren Storm hits and Excello classics.
"The main focus of this group is vocals," says Adcock. "It's sad to say, but that's often left out sometimes, and vocals can take a back seat to arrangements. But when you've got Warren Storm in the band, and he's just sang three numbers in a row and it's your turn, you'd better sing something good."
For Storm, the band is all about capturing a feeling. "I like a blues feel to the songs that I do," he says. "I copied my [vocal] style after Fats, Chuck Willis and all the singers from the '50s, and I got my own style out of that. When I play behind the band, it gives it a different feel. I tend to accent a little bit more, and it blends in. When I sing and play, I tend to get more excited. I play a little heavier when I'm singing, but I lay back otherwise. It's a unique band, and a good blend of all the musician's talents." Article by Scott Jordan