Friday, March 21, 2014

Album Review: Professor Porkchop and the Dishes – U R My Everything

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This CD review was originally published in the June 6, 2013 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at

Professor Porkchop and the Dishes – U R My Everything

Self Release

11 tracks / 40:38

There are countless reasons to go to Louisiana: the cuisine, its culture, a strong variety of college and professional sports, plenty of hunting and fishing opportunities, and (of course) the music. The state’s history of blues, zydeco and swamp music is priceless, and its native sons are heroes that its populace can be proud of. Professor Porkchop and the Dishes’ new album, U R My Everything is a prime example of this and its slick performances and clever lyrics should not be missed.

Professor Porkchop is Chris McCaa’s pseudonym, and he is the leader, singer and pianist/organist for this Shreveport, Louisiana-based group. The rest of the crew for this album includes Jason Coffield on guitar and saxophone, Danyelle Bryant and Brady Blade on the skins, Rick Wallis and Shawn Stroope on bass and George Hancock on flute, baritone saxophone and percussion. There is a lot of role-swapping going on here, and there is no way I will be able to keep it straight.

U R My Everything was produced by McCaa and Stroope, and includes eight original tracks and three cover tunes. It is hard to assign this album to any one genre, because even though it has a solid blues bass, it is flavored with funk, soul, jazz, ragtime and a healthy dose of bayou spices. McCaa’s voice has been compared to Randy Newman and John Hiatt, and rightly so, but it is still more his own than anybody else’s. Throughout the changing moods of this album he is able to deftly adapt to different styles but never lose his unique sound, thus giving the band’s sophomore release a sense of continuity.

McCaa has a great voice, but he also has keen keyboard and writing skills. His comfort in his abilities is evident as he chose to start U R My Everything off with four original songs. The title track begins with a mellow vibe flavored with electric piano, but solidifies quickly as the chorus adds in organ and heavier guitar chords. But this is not a one man show, as the backline is solid and the guitars are spot on. When “Blame it on the Moon” gets going, you can see where the Randy Newman comparisons come in. Chris’ voice is similar, and indeed he has a deft touch on the piano. When you add in the sadly clever lyrics and creative rhymes, we get to see that he really has the whole package.

The band did not forget their Sportsman’s Paradise heritage, as they crafted a fabulous homage to the Crescent City in “Move to New Orleans.” Any locals that have moved away will be made jealous during this tour of all the great spots in town. Then they move on to Shreveport for the next track, “Sprague Street Rag” which is a short instrumental with full-blown ragtime piano accompanied by only a pair of spoons. Chris McCaa certainly has fine chops!

George Hancock brings plenty to the table too, as his jazz flute work in “Puerto Rican Hotel” is both tasteful and skilled. Throughout this selection he is in perfect sync with McCaa’s electric piano and the rhythm section. I was surprised to find a second instrumental tune on the album, but this Afro-Cuban fusion piece really works well into the mix of other styles.

Professor Porkchop and the Dishes included a sprinkling of cool cover tunes too. Their take on “Knock Me a Kiss” is the best version I have heard since B.B. King’s, mostly due to McCaa’s fine vocal phrasing. They also took a crack at Ray Charles’ “Roll With My Baby,” and the rolling bass line and sweet saxophone make for more of a modern feel (in a good way). And “Early in the Morning,” a Louis Jordan hit from 1947, has its upbeat tempo held in place by a nifty snare riff with a slick overlay of the tinkling ivories.

The album comes to a close with the hardest tune of the bunch, “I’m Gone.” This Southern blues rocker has growly vocals and a neat stereo effect of the rhythm and lead guitars; it is almost like this is a five-minute guitar solo with a song happening underneath it. The guitar tone is gloriously distorted, and the bass is fat and totally in the pocket with the drums. And, in keeping with the rest of their original songs, the lyrics are top-notch and worth paying attention to.

U R My Everything provides a most laid-back vibe, and it is great music for just sitting back with a tumbler of your favorite beverage and listening with a fine sound system or a good set of headphones. Professor Porkchop and the Dishes have outdone themselves and delivered a solid piece of work throughout. Check it out if you get the chance!


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