About ten years ago, in the backyard of his parents' house in Ithaca, New York, Jeremy Lyons showed me his newly purchased 1935 National Guitar. At the time I was playing in a band with Lyons' life-long friend and future Deltabilly Boy Greg Schatz. Lyons would occasionally sit in with our band, and I knew him to be a pretty decent electric guitar player. When he sat down on the picnic table and began finger-picking that National, I knew he had found his niche. Anyone who knows the music scene in New Orleans these days or reads this magazine knows the rest of the story.
Lyons was a little hesitant when I asked if I could review his new CD, Live at Fribourg. He was concerned about the quality of the mix. Given that Mark Bingham produced the last Deltabilly Boys disc (with great results) and that Live at Fribourg is a no frills live soundboard mix, I can see his point. Although there are some rough edges that you would associate with such a live recording, there is really only one track (the last) where the mix is slightly distracting. That nit having been picked, let's get down to business.
This CD rocks. It is by far the loosest, greasiest recording of this band to date. Eleven of the tracks are from 1998 appearances at a festival in Switzerland. These cuts feature the current line-up of the Deltabilly Boys (Lyons on guitar and vocals, Greg Schatz on bass, accordion, and vocals, and Paul Santopadre on drums) augmented by multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and fellow Ithacan A.J. Strauss. He provides backing on piano, guitar, trumpet and upright bass with amazing facility. His Slam Stewart-style bass/vocal solo on "Everybody Loves My Baby" is one this disc's many highlights. Also of note is a red hot version of the Jr. Parker classic "Mystery Train," as well as a stunning seven minute workout on Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love?" The playing and in particular the vocals on this album are as on time as you would expect from a band that gigs as constantly as these guys. If you're a Deltabilly fan, this is a must have.
Jeremy Lyons - Guitar, Lead Vocals, Washboard
Paul Joseph Antopadre - Drums
Gregory Stefan Schatz - Accordion, Upright Bass
A.J. Strauss III - Piano, Trumpet, Upright Bass
Steve Lewins - Upright Bass
01. Salty Dog (3:46)
02. Country Boy (6:10)
03. Comin' Home (3:51)
04. Who Do You Love (7:20)
05. Let's Give A Party (4:13)
06. Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby (3:26)
07. Mystery Train (7:07)
08. Come On In My Kitchen (5:10)
09. One Cup Of Coffee (3:18)
10. Everybody Loves My Baby (4:52)
11. Café Au Lait (4:25)
12. Early In The Morning (5:37)
13. All By Myself (6:38)