Music Review: Grayson Capps – The Lost Cause Minstrels [Royal Potato Family]

On his 5th studio album Grayson Capps engages a new band, The Lost Cause Minstrels, consisting mostly of former members of the now defunct Mobile, Alabama band Kung Fu Mama – Guitarist Corky Hughes, keyboardist Chris Spies, drummer John Milham and bassist Christian Grizzard  – captures the greatness of classic rock, country as well as folk, blues and Dixieland resulting in a blend of great Americana music.

The main protagonist in The Lost Cause Minstrels is the asphalt ribbon, both as a means of escape and as a means anguish. Sometimes, as in the country rock ramble Highway 42, both in the same song to Tao-like results “Let go of the future, let go of the past, put gasoline on the present, and have yourself a blast.”

Other characters emerge on the travels. Capp’s aging rocker rasp, reminiscent of Shooter Jennings, opens the album with Coconut Moonshine is a Jazzy Cab Calloway-style tale of the character Mr. Jim who dispenses tropical bootleg hooch from his Ocean Springs, Mississippi barbecue joint. Taj Mahal’s country shuffle Annie’s Lover gets a loving rendition of palatial proportions and features a bit of hillbilly scat for good measure.

Capps reflects both his Alabama birth and, until recently, New Orleans residence in a horn and drum fueled Dixieland romp on Ol’ Slac. the name derives from the fictional character created by Joseph Stillwell Cain, Jr. (Joe Cain. in the song) Chickasaw Chief Slacabamorinico. Cain was a Confederate veteran that revived the tradition of Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama after it was halted by the occupying Union Army. Cain and six other Confederate veterans paraded in a decorated coal wagon playing drums and horns were dubbed The Lost Cause Minstrels.

The road takes it’s own toll in Rock N Roll, a Turn the Page-like lament of empty gas tanks, full whiskey glasses and long nights and Yes You Are has an aging, battle-worn musician confessing the futility of his chosen career to his lover who tenderly assures and  and encourages from afar.

A couple of classic-rock styled torchers pick things up as  No Definitions (in which the title defines the album overall) highlights guitarist Corky Hughes chops and manages to sound new and channel Hendrix’s Foxy Lady. John the Daggar rocks by digging out the blues is a retelling of the John Lee Hooker crossroads fable.

The albums taunt sound is a credit to Capps, who co-produced the effort with his longtime partner and Grammy Award-winning engineer/producer Trina Shoemaker (Queens of the Stone Age, Dylan Leblanc, Sheryl Crow). Capps has taken on a considerable undertaking of styles and personal, heartfelt confession and made it into a great album.

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