David Maxwell & Louisiana Red
BlueMax Records

David Maxwell and Louisiana Red, two masters of the blues craft, got together in a studio one fine day in 2007—“nothing planned, no song list (a few ideas), no ‘producer,’ according to the album liner notes—and went where their collective muse led them. In the end they emerged with a fine, unfiltered musical dialogue with a carefree, spontaneous spirit and appealing warmth emanating from seasoned pros who speak the same language. Carefree, yes, but not without intensity—that’s clear from the first, searing notes from Red’s slide guitar on cut one, “Get Your Hands Off My Woman,” not the brisk shuffle we heard Red divest himself of on Lowdown Back Porch Blues, but rather a grinding, sinister, dark-hued entreaty. Red growls the lyrics with an ominous sneer and punctuates his musings with fierce swoops of the slide as Maxwell responds with ever-shifting textures on the 88s ranging from spare, moody ruminations to tension-laden right-hand flurries and a tasty arpeggio here and there. The pair take Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “You Got To Move” to similarly dark places, but this particularly outing is a showcase for Maxwell’s powerful, evocative piano soloing, which has a curiously bright, almost pop color at points, at others a country church feel, and at others a lowdown, deep blues brooding quality before it gives way to Red’s stinging slide. This being about the blues, some mean-spirited women get their comeuppance in song: both “New Jersey Women” and “Barbara Jean” are strafed by Red’s Delta-style slide work, as Maxwell injects his own textured commentary, from forceful retorts to Maxwell’s plaintive vocal to delicate, fleeting runs in the rare quiet passages. If it sounds like there’s a paucity of out-and-out celebration here, such is in fact the case; but there’s plenty of exuberance to go around on the second cut, “Going Back To Memphis,” on which the two musicians fashion a driving, frantic dialogue between the rousing piano and protesting slide work, all in service to a tale Red tells with infectious enthusiasm about returning to the Bluff City to start his life over with a woman whose tyrannical ways he hopes to cure when “we settle down.” Rounding out the date are two cuts on which Red reminisces about his near-lifelong friendship with Homesick James (and discusses James’s odd guitar tuning), discusses some of his early guitars and explains his unique method of bending strings. Getting these two together in this setting was a good idea, and the upshot is a long player that won’t knock your socks off but sounds right any time you put it on. Nice work by all concerned. –David McGee

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Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Laura Fissinger, Christopher Hill, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (
Website Design: Kieran McGee (
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY;, Alicia Zappier (New York)
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024