Deacon John
Live at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Redbone RBR 1994

Deacon John Moore is a New Orleans institution who has yet to gain national recognition despite his forty-plus years as a guitarist and performing artist with a fervent local following. Born and bred from the same musical roux that produced such R&B luminaries as Fats Domino, Huey "Piano" Smith, Smiley Lewis and Irma Thomas, Deacon John has been a mainstay in the Crescent City since a very early age.

As a young man Deacon spent nights cutting his chops at the legendary Dew Drop Inn and his days in the studio as part of Allen Toussaintís recording band, playing guitar on such notable tunes as Ernie K-Doeís "Mother in Law," Lee Dorseyís "Workiní in a Coal Mine" and Irma Thomasí "Ruler of My Heart." In fact, the only thing separating Deacon John from the list of all-time R&B greats is the missing ingredient of a hit record of his own.

As the years passed, Deacon John continued to stun audiences throughout the New Orleans area with his wicked slide guitar playing but shied away from entering the studio as a session leader. In fact, the only real opportunity afforded out-of-towners to witness the raw power of a Deacon John show was at the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

But now it is time for all to rise and celebrate the music of Deacon John, who has finally come forth with a stunning example of his finest work on the Redbone CD, Live at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Recorded by WWOZ Radio at the 1994 JazzFest, this live effort showcases Deacís full command of the blues idiom. His song choices range from scorching Elmore James numbers like "Shake Your Money Maker" and the tour-de-force "Happy Home" to Jimmy Rogersí "Thatís Alright" to B.B. Kingís soulful "You Upset Me Baby" and exhibit the Deaconís uncanny ability to summon up the spirits of blues legends past and present.

Deacon John plays with strength and emotion, skillfully retaining the integrity of the original performers while turning each cut on this record into a personal musical statement of his own. Although the selections here are taken from the standard blues repertoire, Deacís influences are wide and varied, and their inflections all show up on this recording to produce a poweful blues album nicely funked up with that unique New Orleans sound.

With this recording Deacon John has given the blues world reason to recognize him as one of the hottest performers alive today, bar none. Club-owners and festival producers here and abroad would be well advised to give this disc a spin.

ó Bill Taylor

©2000 Blues Access, Boulder, Colorado, USA