Good Times Roll
"Bon Ton Roulet" (Clarence Garlow)
Papa Mali & the Instagators, from Thunder Chicken, Fog City, 2000
Bon Ton Gone
The CD notes credit Clifton Chenier (the late progenitor and king of zydeco music) as the writer of “Bon Ton Roulet”; but this is not his song of the same name, which Chenier had actually copped from Louis Jordan’s “Let The Good Times Roll”. No, the song covered here was written and originally recorded in the early 1950’s by Clarence Garlow, a blues guitarist and performer raised in Southwest Louisiana but based in Beaumont, TX most of his life. It’s one of the great, cool early swamp blues tunes (if not the earliest) with that syncopated mambo feel and quirky Creole lyrics that laud the laissez-faire, bon ton lifestyle of the region.
Papa Mali and the Instagators nail their cover of the tune with a funk/blues crosscut, and make it just right for our Carnival season Swamp Side. As I mentioned when posting a track from Malcolm “Papa Mali” Welbourne’s side project, Jerkuleez, the Austin-based guitarist, performer and song-writer grew up around Shreveport, LA and has spent a lot of time in New Orleans. His work always exudes a steamy bayou atmosphere live. And, thanks to producer Dan Prothero of Fog City Records, that presence is preserved in the recording process and final mix.
Back in 2000, a fellow programmer at WEVL passed Thunder Chicken to me; and I was hooked. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to catch Papa Mali several times; and he hasn’t disappointed, even one night when there were only as many audience members as band members (four). We keep in touch now and again; and he’s given me his gracious blessing to share this track with you. His new CD, recorded in New Orleans, will be coming out in the not too distant future. We’ll let you know. In the meantime, find and buy Thunder Chicken and revel in all its greasy goodness.
Mali at play