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Mel Melton & The Wicked Mojos|
Papa Mojo’s Roadhaouse
(Louisiana Dance Hall Records 2005, #1166)
Review Date: October 2007
by Bill Halaszynski
Native North Carolinian Mel Melton became enamored
with Cajun culture both aural and gastronomic when he
traveled to Louisiana in 1969. He hooked up with
notables such as legendary slide guitarist Sonny
Landreth, saxophonist C.J. Chenier and Buckwheat
Zydeco in the early 70’s when he began to develop his
melting pot musical vision. Between the sounds and
flavors, Melton became irrevocably linked to the Cajun
traditions. After spending time as a nationally
recognized chef based out of Chicago, he returned to
the south in the 90’s where he began to exhibit his
twin loves of food and music from the stage. Papa
Mojo’s Roadhouse is what Melton is up to now. The
Cd’s artwork suggests down home cookin’ and the music
contained within is just that.
“Zydeco Razzle,” opens things up with the pedal to the
metal. Wailin’ guitar and pumping harp propel this
2:03 of raging Cajun bliss into the stratosphere.
“Papa Mojo,” follows with a funky, yet lilting feel
that helps define what Melton’s music is all about.
New Orleans and its myriad musical influences bubble
to the surface, but this gumbo is even thicker. You
feel the Blues deep within what Mel and his Wicked
Mojos is layin’ down. Drummer Evans Nicholson gets
that two step beat percolating as needed and keeps
things hopping throughout along with rhythm mate F.J.
Venture on bass, who also adds some fine crescent city
piano work on “Missing You Baby.” Ricky Olivarez’
guitar serves it up anyway the boss wants it. There’s
slippery slide and funky riddums aplenty throughout.
He keeps “Funky NOLA,” in particular rolling while
special guest Dave MacCracken’s Hammond organ plays
well off Melton’s gleeful, wailin’ harp. “Ills Sont
Parti,” benefits from old pal Landreth’s ever dynamic
slide work. This is primal stomp music that satisfies
the soul while the feets bop and fingers pop. You can
only smile when listening to these cats and I’ll take
that any day.
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