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Coco Robicheaux - Hoodoo Party (REVIEW - offBeat)

(Orleans Records)

Coco Robicheaux holds a place in local history as being one of a handful of musicians who has helped create and mold modern Louisiana blues. His fellow pardners [sic] in the world of voodoo blues include Dr. John, Fess, Booker and John Mooney. Not bad company.

While Coco's first two CDs paced restlessly in spirit land, Hoodoo Party reminds us that his heart and soul were nurtured and stoked first by low down dirty blues. With the help of Pat Ramsey's Blues Disciples and Chief Smiley Ricks on congas, Coco paints his new visions a deeper shade of blue than on previous outings. Instead of funky horns and keyboards, these songs are harmonica and guitar driven while Coco's sensuously gritty voice provides the centerpiece around which the supporting instruments swirl.

Of the ten songs on the CD, six are original compositions and continue to backlight Robicheaux's spirit journey. His imagery is dark and humorous, sad and glad. He makes us say amen with the riff "I got a part-time job that I'm fixin' to lose/The only thing that cost me is these blues/Cause they don't come easy and they don't come cheap/And what you pay for is what you keep" ("Thrift Store Suit"). Then he gets seriously down with the devil on "Li'l Black Hen." "You can huff 'n' puff yo' powders all around my door/My li'l black hen gonna scratch it up fo' sho/...Now you can hang yo' gris-gris an' yo' ju-ju 'round yo' neck/my li'l black hen come an' peck peck peck."

For me, the deepest performance on the CD is Coco's rendition of Eddie Bo's "The Grass Looks Greener." So mellow, so soulful-makes you remember that this Louisiana Medicine Man is truly a fine, fine blues singer. But rest assured, Coco still manages to fill your ears with plenty of gris-gris and golfer dust along with his blues.

---Kathleen Rippey


Originally published in offBeat (December 2000), pg. 32


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