|Celebrating a decade of good work that was lifetimes in the making, Nola Blue Records releases Breakin’ News: 10 Years Of Blues. The ten-track compilation album features songs from the cream of the crop of the labels talented artists including Lil’ Jimmy Reed, John Németh, Trudy Lynn, Clarence Spady , Cash McCall , Frank Bey, and Benny Turner, who provided the bulk of the inspiration and the title track.
Nola Blue was formed in 2012 by Sallie Bengtson, who followed her passion for music and self-professed “Heart Full of Blues,” as a firm providing strategic oversite and management to preserve the legacy of traditional blues artists. The label was launched in 2014 with the release of Journey by Benny Turner. In the ensuing years, the catalog has grown to a total of 25 albums, including those from late great Cash McCall and Frank Bey, and over a dozen more artists on the roster. This accomplishment is a result of the very definition of “A Labor Of Love” that resulted in Nola Blue Records being named “Record Label of the Year” by The Josie Awards in September 2020.
Recorded in Slidell Louisianna, “Breakin’ News,” from the debut Nola Blue record is the perfect choice to open the set; a swampy stomping shuffle full of self-determination and gospel fueled joy. Turner collaborated with Cash McCall on his 2019 album Going Back Home to deliver this faithful reading of Elmore James’ standard “It Hurts Me Too.” A team of All-Stars from Kid Andersen’s Greaseland studios contributed the 2020 single ,“All My Dues Are Paid,” the title track of Frank Bey’s album that received a posthumous GRAMMY nomination for Contemporary Blues Album of the Year.
James Gadson provides the bump and grind shuffle on “One Who’s Got A Lot,” written for Cash McCall by Jim Koeppel, after he and Cash witnessed a particularly memorable lady sipping a double latte that she’d just purchased at Starbucks. The swinging message of hope, “If Only We Could,” from Clarence Spady is the result of a collaboration with Bobby Gentilo orchestrated by Nola Blue for his 2022 album Surrender. Bodacious Texas Blues woman Trudy Lynn spells out her mantra as an unstoppable force during “Golden Girl Blues, “ backed by Grammy-winning artists Kevin and Yates McKendree on a rip-roaring track from her Golden Girl album produced by Terry Wilson.
Two tracks from acclaimed vocalist and harmonica man John Németh, who is a recent addition to the Nola Blue roster, are featured on the compilation. First is the deftly orchestrated classic R&B ballad “After All,” from his side project, The Love Light Orchestra, followed by “The Last Time,” a track from the award-winning and chart-topping “May Be The Last Time,” he made with Kid Andersen and Elvin Bishop, demonstrating the depth and breadth of his talent.
The autobiographical easy-going blues “They Call Me Lil’ Jimmy,” is the centerpiece from a Nola Blue project with Lil’ Jimmy Reed, joined by Ben Levin, in 2023. Another fine track from Benny Turner ”Who Sang It First,” bookends the set, with the elder statesman of the blues giving us a history lesson on the origins of the beloved music that has been his life’s work and the inspiration for the Nola Blue label that has grown from a small company into a larger artistic co-operative of like-minded souls with a shared vision and mission of purpose.
Rick J. Bowen