The Apple Barrel
Mike Hood's Truck Toe Jam
January 11, 2005
At 1 a.m. there was still a bunch of people looking in on the music from the sidewalk. As luck would have it, I entered the back door of The Apple Barrel and settled into a bar seat without having to walk in front of the band. I walked into something nice Tuesday night--a show energy that had been building. Some kind of sweet party blues atmosphere where people could shout when they felt it. As was usual for any Tuesday or Friday night, Hood was the only constant musician throughout the show. Pianist/guitarist Hood was backed by Todd the drummer and Sam the bassist for most of the concert, but others eventually came through to sit in for them.
Coco Robicheaux was sitting at the table nearest the main entrance, and he seemed to preside over the proceedings like a musical godfather. Every musician who came and went acknowledged him, and Robicheaux added creedence and energy to the concert just by sitting next to it. He silently mouthed lyrics, egged Hood on during parts that he had a hankering for, and for a couple of songs he stood up at the mic to attach his rugged, guttural musings to a verse.
Hood and his regular cronies did a good job of delivering the true blues, funk and r&b gumbo for a while, but once John Lisi drummer Alabama Dave got on the kit, things got po-boy messy. Todd was a great drummer, but once Alabama Dave added a tighter and more aggressive approach, the crowd got rowdy. Still, the whole hour I was there, only one woman danced. She got up after the crowd laid down their inhibitions during the night's highlight, "Mardi Gras." Hood beautifully twinkled notes and battered chords, and an unidentified guest singer and saxophonist made it a party. The place was alive. Local trumpeter Maurice Brown was already sitting at the bar during this song, but after a little prodding by some patrons, he was the knockout to the vocalist's startling jab--an authoritative drawl. Once Brown blew everyone away with his solo, a moment had been made and the song had become excellent. Brown was something else--his machine gun notes and bravado floored me. It was nice to hear him go off in such a tight space.
Brown stcuk around for a few more songs, and after he left, the band kept the course and continued to please the audience. Once the godfather left the room, though, a little bit of the concert's energy left with him. This had been a great performance of fun music.
Hood and his bandmates were still playing when I left. Kudos to them for enduring the ups and downs with a constant, high level of musicianship.