A-Train At The Crossroads
A-Train when they were running
"Not By Man Alone" (Buddy Flett)
A-Train, from Live At Humpfrees, Sooto, 1984
The other night, me and the Mrs. went to New Iberia, LA, just 20 miles or so down Highway 182, to see a live show featuring former members of A-Train, a popular regional band through most of the 1980’s. Based up North in Shreveport, the band released at least four LPs, but never got a national break. Their Louisiana-flavored blues and soul was a popular draw on the Gulf Coast circuit and benefited from a lot of good in-house songwriting, mainly from guitarist Buddy Flett and keyboardist David Egan. Flett, Egan, and singer Miki Honeycutt, who fronted the group for most of its run, appeared with a bassist and drummer this past Wednesday night at the Sliman Theatre in New Iberia as part of the Louisiana Crossroads music series. The show was so outstanding, I decided to dig out my CD burn of A-Train’s 1983 album, Live At Humpfrees, and find a song to post. That album, along with the band's final LP, River of People, is avaialble on a CD two-fer, although the vinyl sources used in the transfer sounds a bit worse for wear.
I’ve picked “Not By Man Alone”, a Buddy Flett original written for Honeycutt with a heads-up from the feminine perspective and a funk-tinged groove. She turns in a strong performance for the audience at the Shreveport club where this was taped; and, near the end, you can get a hint that this diminutive woman can rare back and rattle the rafters. Besides her power potential, Miki is also able to work emotive wonders on a deep soul song. My wife, who has a great ear for female singers, has been a big fan for years.
After A-Train broke up, Buddy Flett and his brother, Bruce, the band’s bassist, formed the Bluebirds, a blues band that continues to this day. David Egan went on to play in another legendary now defunct roots band in these parts called Filé, and now is a member of the Louisiana super-group, Lil’ Band O’ Gold, plus has his own band, Twenty Years Of Trouble. Miki made a solo CD for Rounder in the early 1990’s, but now is retired from regular performing, although she does occasional reunions with Flett and/or Egan. Today, both Buddy Flett and David Egan are widely respected songwriters, together and separately, in the blues and soul world, having written songs covered by Percy Sledge, Etta James, Irma Thomas, Johnny Adams, and Solomon Burke, among others. Egan lives in Lafayette; so, I get to see him perform around town pretty regularly and always enjoy him solo or with his band. His latest CD is Twenty Years Of Trouble.
I never got to see A-Train live that I recall; though I certainly heard about them. And I didn’t even find their albums until a few years after their demise. So, this reunion show was a real treat. The principals have all become more seasoned and bring even more to the songs now. During the impressive performance last night, I had one of those “this is why I moved to Louisiana” moments. I feel fortunate that I get quite a lot of those down here.