Recording New Orleans Blues

By: David Tobin & Jeff Meegan
Date: 3 Sep 2013

Writing the New Orleans Blues album was particularly challenging. We needed to write songs that would be akin to popular standards that have been a part of our lives for so long.  Songs made popular by Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday are the benchmark and putting the spirit of those classics into new pieces is the real trick. 

New Orleans Musician

Unique Sound 

The thing about New Orleans blues is that it’s completely different from all other types of blues. Blues songs were originally African American work songs, and many types of traditional blues are either a set length (e.g. 12 bar blues) or based upon a musical riff. New Orleans blues, however, is not based upon a riff but it’s a song based form often based in major keys - hence our challenge to write new melodies rather than the tendency (as with some blues forms) to write clichéd pre-existing melodies but with new lyrics. E.g. My Momma done told me… Etc.

In addition, the message in the lyric and the nuance of the language needed to feel legitimate. We had to avoid anachronisms and we searched for words and phrases that were commonplace when this music came to be popular in the early part of the 20th century. So we used phrases such as 'flim flam', and 'jibber jabber' for example!

Once we were happy with the melodies, lyrics and arrangements it all came down to having the right artists perform and record them. 

New Orleans Larry

Authentic Music

In our opinion, at the heart of Audio Network’s success is a commitment to authenticity. If we were recording Memphis Blues for example, we’d want to be in Memphis because the musicians in that place have spoken that musical language all of their lives and it’s a part of who they are. The same is true of New Orleans blues and New Orleans musicians and singers.

For all of these pieces there were accurate scores and parts of course, but at the heart of New Orleans Blues, the feel comes from the interpretation of the performer and what is played that isn’t on the page, as well as what’s not played at all.

New Orleans Horn Musician


We had a stellar line up of well-known New Orleans musicians, whose input during the sessions was invaluable. But of course, as mentioned previously these are songs in their heart and so the choice of the three vocalists required was crucial. When making our decision we were listening as much for the character of the voice as we were for their command of their instrument. It’s virtually impossible to describe what we were looking for - but we both knew that we’d know what it was when we heard it and in each case we were in complete agreement. 

Our vocalists are Big Al Carson, Wendell Brunious (who also features on Trumpet) and Meschiya Lake

As composers it’s extremely satisfying to hear the final product end up so close to what we heard in our heads at the very beginning. It doesn’t always happen like that but when it does, it makes your smile just that bit wider.

Be sure to check out the behind the scenes video below, taking a peek at what went into the recording of the New Orleans Blues album!

Listen to the Album


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