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Orleans Records to Release Compilation of Little Freddie King's First Two Albums

Fried Rice & Chicken is a new collection of Blues guitarist Little Freddie King's work for the Orleans label. The album features remastered songs and instrumentals from 1995's Swamp Boogie and its follow-up, 2000's Sing Sang Sung. This will be these songs first appearance on vinyl. Fried Rice & Chicken will also be available on CD, digital download and streaming services via Orleans on April 6.

The solo debut album from New Orleans' country-funk-blues man Little Freddie King was a slow training coming. King was 55 years old in 1995, the year Orleans Records released Swamp Boogie. For much of his career, he played hole-in-the-wall bar gigs in New Orleans, as a sideman for John "Harmonica" Williams, Polka Dot Slim, Bill "Boogie Bill" Webb and "Brother" Percy Randolph. He also would visit and perform at the Rouzan home, and decades later Gary Rouzan saw King' picture in a blues magazine, sought him out and started managing him. Rouzan brought him to Orleans owner Carlo Ditta.

Ditta assembled simpatico sessions players for King's Swamp Boogie sessions: bassists Earl Stanley (famous for the local classic "Pass the Hatchet"), Robert Wilson and Jason Sipher; drummers Kerry Brown and Bradley Wisham; and organist and pianist "Crazy" Rick Allen (Howlin' Wolf, Dr. John, Etta James, Sonny Boy Williamson, Albert King). Six of these tracks make the cut for side A of Fried Rice & Chicken. They include the riff-based, Chicago blues-style instrumental "Cleo's Back" (recorded in the 1960s by Jr. Walker & the All Stars and the Mar-Kays); "Mean Little Woman," an aching blues number written by King; "I Used to be Down," modeled after the laid-back style of Jimmy Reed; and King's instrumental take on Leadbelly's "Cotton Fields" (renamed "Kinky Cotton Fields"). The cuts featured on the B side of this collection come from King's in-concert album Sing Sang Sung, released in 2000. He performs with his longtime drummer "Wacko" Wade Wright; bassist Anthony Anderson, bass; and harmonica player Bobby Lewis Titullio. The album features recordings from two 1999 shows at the Dream Palace on Frenchmen Street.

Swamp Boogie helped King become an international artist. After its release, King played major European and American festivals. He appeared on magazine covers and newspaper front pages. Eventually he'd make TV and film appearances, including HBO's Treme and the title sequence of NCIS: New Orleans. Orleans Records licensed its opening song, "Cleo's Back," to the Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock 2011 movie, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

"There is no one in New Orleans playing that type of music any longer," Rouzan says. "Freddie is that raw, what-you-see-is-what-you-get blues artist. Blues became a part of my life because I see blues as the real music. You're getting all the emotions of a human being. And they're not just playing it. It's not an act. They lived it. You couldn't script what came out of these people. It was real. And Freddie is the last link of that music left in New Orleans. He's it."

---Macon Prickett


Originally published on Broadway World [April 3rd, 2018]


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