Rick Koster Louisiana Music

Friday, 28 January 2011 

Under normal circumstances you'd expect to be finished a book before you set about writing a review, but I doubt that I'll ever be finished with Rick Koster's Louisiana Music.

With an interest in the music from around the mouth of the Mississippi that dates back to a various artists' compilation called Another Saturday Night, and Dr John's piano-powered R&B revival Gumbo, and progressed through the Meterfied fonk of In The Right Place and Robert Palmer's blue-eyed Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley, Professor Longhair and other assorted bits and pieces, I've always wanted to explore the subject more thoroughly.There are gaps in the collection that could accommodate a transitory Mack truck.

The problem, of course, is always where to start, how to separate the wheat from the chaff, and if it's all good, sorting the stellar and sublime from the merely excellent.

Louisiana Music may not be the only reference volume out there, but it's the only one I've run across to date and certainly offers plenty of jumping off points for further investigation.

The subtitle, A journey from R&B to Zydeco, Jazz to Country, Blues to Gospel, Cajun music to Swamp Pop to Carnival Music and Beyond says it all really, as Koster, who's also the author of Texas Music, takes the reader through the genres one by one, starting with Jazz, as one might expect and moving through Rhythm & Blues, The Blues, Music of Southwest Louisiana (Cajun, Creole and Zydeco), Louisiana Rock and a final section labelled The Wondrous Sounds (Voodoo, Swamp Pop, Mardi Gras and Carnival, Gospel Country, Rap and Hip-Hop, Classical and World Music).

Within each section, he starts with the major names and trawls back through their antecedents and successors, influences and legacy, linking each into the tradition they've emerged from and referencing the cross pollination you're going to find in a musical environment like Louisiana. 

At $9.99 for the Kindle version it's remarkable value as a reference and will be sitting on the iPad for the duration.

Unfortunately, 2000's Texas Music isn't available in the same format yet, but I'll be on the lookout for a copy (after I've got into tackling the backlog of music from Louisiana that needs to be explored, of course). 

© Ian Hughes 2012