Doug Duffey And BADD

Doug Duffey And BADD

The blues is a rich and primal music, deeply rooted in the swampy soils of the Mississippi Delta and the musical souls of artists like Louisiana native and musical institution Doug Duffey. Duffey has been mining this musical vein for more than half a century with his singing, songwriting, and keyboard work, starting professionally at age 14. He’s carried this soulful gumbo from New Orleans to the rest of the world with national and international performances. Duffey has created his music long enough and powerfully enough to be enshrined in the National Blues and Louisiana Halls of Fame, and the Northeast Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. In short, to paraphrase Willie Dixon, Duffey has dug the roots, and we harvest the sweet fruits.

Now Duffey has dug deep into his traditions for the riches of his latest album, Ain’t Goin’ Back, a celebration of his music with his band, BADD (a title carved from the initials of band members’ first names). BADD includes Duffey on vocals and keyboards; Dan Sumner on guitars incl. electric and acoustic bass, percussion, vocals, and trumpet; Adam Ryland on drums and Ben Ford on bass. A few talented players complete this lineup: Dave P. Moore on harp, Jonathan Patterson on trombone and Bert Windham on trumpet. Duffey and Sumner co-produced.

Ain’t Goin’ Back is tightly packed with eleven bitingly concise and lyrically gorgeous originals from Duffey and Sumner, capturing a range of styles coaxed from the timeless mists of the blues. “Whirlpool” sets the tone for the session, opening with a lonesome guitar, a solid backbeat and ethereal harp leading into Duffey’s deep blue tale of a troubled mind: “I said my mind be like a whirlpool, thoughts be swimmin’ round and round / and I ain’t gone find no peace until I’m on solid ground.” “You’ve Got What it Takes” slinks along next behind a tough musical backing and carries a straightforward message: “You got what it takes to take everything I got.” The delicate strains of “The Wishing Game” introduce a melancholy tale of unrealized love told with elegant lyricism – “If wishes were horses … beggars could ride away from the wishing game.”

“Rock It All Night” rocks hard as it steps up the pace with the promise of good times: “Well the joint is burnin’ like a house on fire / yeah the joint is jumpin’ and ain’t nobody tired / cause the joint is swinging.” “Front Porch Blues” conjures a moody blues image of the finality of a solitary existence: “I said I’m just sittin’ here in my ole rockin’ chair / you know I hear a train in the distance but I ain’t goin’ nowhere.” Another fatalistic message about lost love drifts along in the lilting “Get ‘Er Outa Yo Head” – “You got to get a grip and get her outa yo head / if you don’t end this bad trip, you gonna find yourself dead.”

The driving rhythms of “No Mercy” add a feral intensity to his mistreatment: “No mercy, no mercy for me / yeah you’se as hard-hearted as a body can be.” The gentle folksy balladry of “Turn It Around” offers a hopeful note: “Got to make some changes, got to make some plans / got to rearrange everything on hand.” The heartfelt poetry of “Promised Land” suggests a yearning for something not quite known: “Yeah I’m sittin’ outside the station, an open ticket in my hand / I got no real destination, goin’ lookin’ for the promised land.” The title of “Gallus Pole” hints at a traditional song, lost in time, when the phrase was ominously “gallows pole.” Duffey’s take is similarly foreboding — “Well I mortgaged my soul for rock and roll / now the payment is overdue. / Well, ain’t got no silver, I ain’t got no gold / next they’ll be had me down to the gallus pole.”

The title track and closer, “Ain’t Goin’ Back,” is another gentle lyrical gem with a delicate harp tapestry woven throughout as a counterpoint to its finality: ‘Well, I ain’t going back not even in chains / to that two room shack full of torture and pain.” And just as the words “Ain’t Goin’ Back” suggest, Doug Duffey’s prescient music carries him forward through the shrouded mists where his music lives, into this smartly written album filled with the eternal truths of the blues.

Jim White (a former music writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette & now writes the Blues Roadhouse)





JULY 26, 2024