APO Records CEO, Chad Kassem, has given a number of blues performers an opportunity to create their personal "vision" of the blues at his Blue Heaven studios, located at a renovated church in Salina, Kansas. A number of well-known blues men such as Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin, Jimmy Lee Robinson, Honeyboy Edwards and Pinetop Perkins have made exceptional records for APO. Other regional and lesser known (but extremely talented) players have had their careers vaulted into the national spotlight by virtue of their "debut" APO recordings. These include Weepin' Willie, Eomot RaSun, Little Hatch and Henry Gray, just to name a few. Regardless, all of APO's records are of exceptional quality and offer some of the best blues sounds on the market today.
Among the "new" artists presented by APO is Louisiana bluesman, Harry "Big Daddy" Hypolite. Best known for his work as a sideman for the late Zydeco King, Clifton Chenier and later his son, C.J. Chenier, Hypolite gets his opportunity to lead his own band on his first solo release, Louisiana Country Boy.
Described by Hypolite as his "dream come true," Louisiana Country Boy offers listeners 12 songs that include six bluesy originals, covers of some great zydeco tunes written by Clifton Chenier and a couple of blues classics. Regardless of the style of the song, Harry Hypolite proves that he is not just another talented sideman destined to support others, but a gifted and emotional band leader in his own right.
On Louisiana Country Boy, Hypolite's excellent guitar and vocals are backed by a talented band comprised of Jimmy D. Lane (Jimmy Rogers son) on guitar and dobro; Lou Villeri on bass; Bruce Cahoon on drums; and Big Joe Amaro on the Hammond B-3. Not unexpectedly, the band offers up a variety of sounds on the recording, ranging from classic Chicago style blues and country blues to pure Louisiana zydeco.
The CD opens with an excellent original, "The Sun Is Shining," with a strong uptempo Chicago blues sound. Hypolite follows this with a nice slow blues original called "Milk Cow Blues." The guitar work on both songs, with leads by Hypolite and Jimmy D. Lane, is clean and simple, filling out both songs nicely. The four Clifton Chenier-penned tunes provide the Louisiana and zydeco side to Louisiana Country Boy complete with Cajun-French lyrics ("Colinda" and "You Used To Call Me") and a zydeco classic ("Hog For You Baby").
Two of my personal favorites on the CD are the classic, "Just A Little Bit" and Hypolite's original, "Big Bad Girl," a song that is reminiscent of tunes by the late Jimmy Reed. Both songs offer a classic Chicago post-war blues sound with a steady backbeat and fine guitar by Hypolite and Jimmy D. Lane.
At age 63, Harry Hypolite's debut recording, Louisiana Country Boy, is a fine collection of songs and hopefully the beginning of a higher profile and greater success for this talented Louisiana bluesman. To pick up a copy of Louisiana Country Boy and to learn more about Harry "Big Daddy" Hypolite, visit the APO Records website at www.acousticsounds.com.
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