September 23, 2005
Contact: Mark Pucci - Mark Pucci Media (770) 804-9555
MEL MELTON COOKS ON NEW CD, PAPA MOJO'S ROADHOUSE,
DEBUT CD RELEASE FOR LOUISIANA RED HOT RECORDS
MASTER CAJUN CHEF SERVES UP MUSICAL GUMBO OF LOUISIANA DANCE HALL MUSIC
NEW ORLEANS, LA - Even the wrath of Hurricane Katrina could not derail the September 13 release of singer/harmonica player/rub board player Mel Melton's debut album for Louisiana Red Hot Records, Papa Mojo's Roadhouse, which was perhaps the last recorded music to come out of the Crescent City as the big storm hit.
Papa Mojo's Roadhouse is Mel's third CD with his band, the Wicked Mojos, and also features guest appearances by slide guitar wizard Sonny Landreth and Trisha Yearwood guitarist Johnny Garcia. The CD covers a wide swath of "Louisiana Dance Hall Music," with rowdy Zydeco and Cajun tunes, swamp bop, juke joint blues and New Orleans funk. There's even a special "Lagniappe" at the end from Mel and his thirteen-year-old daughter, Laurel.
Papa Mojo's Roadhouse features all original tunes, with the exception of a "Nawlinized" treatment of the Ray Charles classic, "What'd I Say." Sonny Landreth adds some nasty slide guitar on "Ils Sont Parti," and Johnny Garcia literally smokes on slide throughout the opening track, "Zydeco Razzle."
Mel describes the band's sound and his songs as "Mojo Music." "It's like the food. Down in Louisiana everyone cooks, and they like to stir it up their own way." And Mel should know: the award-winning Cajun chef is working on a new cookbook and just completed a TV pilot for a cooking/music show, which will feature Mel at his best both as a chef and a musician.
Nicknamed "The Zydeco Chef" by former band mate and friend C.J. Chenier, and "Cookie Boy" by Sonny Landreth, another old band partner, Mel has been enjoying the success of two careers for three decades: one as a musician and the other as a professional chef and culinary consultant. According to Melton, "The food and music of Acadiana have always been inseparable for me."
A North Carolina native, Mel went to Lafayette, Louisiana in the summer of 1969 and fell in love with the rich culture and physical beauty of southwest Louisiana. He soon co-founded a band with Sonny Landreth, later playing on Sonny's first record, Blues Attack, in 1978, which also featured C.J. Chenier on saxophone and Buckwheat Zydeco on the Hammond organ.
Over the next fifteen years, he honed his musical and cooking skills, eventually becoming a well-known Cajun chef. At the same time, he was becoming known as a singer and a harmonica player who created a Zydeco style of playing that has earned him the reputation as the world's number one Zydeco harmonica player. In addition to playing with Sonny, he was frequently on stage with the King of Zydeco, Clifton Chenier, and spent a year touring with the internationally known "Cajun Rocker," Zachary Richard.
In 1982, Sonny and Mel formed the band Bayou Rhythm, and eventually added C.J. Chenier to the lineup. The band recorded Way Down in Louisiana in 1985. A song on that record "Congo Square," was co-written by Sonny and Mel and has since been recorded by The Neville Brothers, John Mayall, Tom Principato and several other artists.
In 1986, Melton left the band to pursue a full time chef career in Chicago, winning the prestigious Grand Prize at the Rolls Royce/Krug Champagne Invitational Chef Competition. He frequently did cooking demonstrations, appeared on various Chicago radio and television programs, and also was a featured chef at the Chicago Jazz Festival, The American Cancer Society Christmas Gala, and Mardi Gras at the Limelight Club.
In 1990, Melton moved back home to North Carolina, where he continued showcasing his cooking skills at numerous events and cooking schools and by opening several restaurants. In 1995, he formed his current band, Mel Melton & the Wicked Mojos, and in 1998 recorded his first CD, Swampslinger, for New Moon Music, a Chapel Hill-based blues label. The CD was named one of the top ten blues CD of the year by The Washington Post. He followed that up with Mojo Dream in 2000, on the Nashville-based Nightfly label, and it was awarded "Zydeco record of the year" by Real Blues Magazine. He also authored his first cookbook, Cookie Boy, the Authentic Cajun Recipes of Mel Melton, published by Kartobi Press of Farmington, New Mexico.
For more information, visit www.melmelton.com.
Kyndmusic.com - November 2005
Mel Melton & The Wicked Mojos
Papa Mojo's Roadhouse
Louisiana Red Hot Records
By Dave Terpeny
He started off playing with Cajun slide guitar master Sonny Landreth, saxophonist extraordinaire C.J. Chenier and the legendary Buckwheat Zydeco in 1973. That was before he became a world-famous Cajun chef and Restaurateur. Since then he has become known for his rare and singular Zydeco harp playing and impeccable jazz and funk tinged Zydeco and Cajun songwriting. Beyond that I don't really know what to say about his latest album. I mean, I think those credentials say it all.
After all, this is a man whose life is fully immersed in the bayou. His bones are cypress, his blood is swamp water, his breath reeks of Cayenne peppers and it all oozes out of his pores through his music which, as mentioned above, is impeccable.
But by impeccable I certainly don't mean neat and tidy. Oh no, this is Cajun music at its dirty juke joint best. When Mel Melton plays the women hike up their skirts to dance, the men drink themselves silly and the party goes on all night, into the early morning. And all that's left behind are muddy boot prints on the scuffed wooden floor and a pounding headache in your white-lightning soaked brain.
So if you haven't, over the course of his 30+ year career, tasted his food or sampled his soulful zydeco rock and roll, do so now. Your eyes will water, your tongue will sting, your feet will move and your ears will get all red and sweaty as you 'manje, bwe epi pran kontan' at Mel's roadhouse.
Midwest Record Recap - Chicago, Il - October 14, 2005
MEL MELTON & the Wicked Mojos/Red Hot Mojo: One of the MVPs of the zydeco world reunites with long time old pal Sonny Landreth for a smoking hot date that has all the heat he brings from his day job as a smoking hot chef. Modernizing zydeco into his own brand of Mojo Music, this greatest harmonica
player the form has known knows how to whip up a frenzy, keep it hot and have you asking for more. Easily the hottest alt.adult date going right now, this is a fun treat any yuppie gathering should have on and for when the energy starts to lag.
1166 (Louisiana Red Hot)
Mel Melton & The Wicked Mojos "Papa Mojo's Roadhouse"
Mel Melton, the North Carolina native, has been cookin' up the hot stuff, both on the stage with his vocals and harmonica, and in the kitchen, in Louisiana for a better than three decades now and just getting better. When he first came down to the Lafayette area he and Sonny Landreth put together a band and he later played on Sonny's first CD, "Blues Attack." This singer, harmonica and rub board player, and chef has continued to grow and learn his crafts that is getting him noticed and for all the right reasons.
On this, his third disc and first for Louisiana Red Hot Records, Melton has a smoking affair in which he has enlisted the help of some of his friends. He enlisted Sonny Landreth to add some of his signature style flaming slide guitar on "Ils Sont Parti." Johnny Garcia from Trisha Yearwood's band contributes his slide guitar attack to Zydeco Razzle, which opens the disc. Melton wrote or co-wrote all but one of the songs on the disc, and his singing has only gotten more powerful with the passage of time. His timing and inflection has aged as well as a fine wine and gives his music that added pop that an experienced singer can bring. The variety of music he covers is expanding beyond just Zydeco, to include Cajun, swamp rock, and roadhouse songs, all of which he covers with equal verve and zeal. - Bob Gottlieb
Mel Melton and the Wicked Mojos
Papa Mojo's Roadhouse
Louisiana Red Hot Records LRHR-1166
Whoo-ee! This CD is as hot & spicy as one of "Cookie Boy" Mel Melton's own flavorful, complex gumbos, with mouthwatering ingredients thrown in and simmered to perfection. Melton's unique brand of swampy harmonica was first heard way back in 1981, on slide wizard Sonny Landreth's Blues Attack, followed by their group Bayou Rhythm's 1985 release Way Down in Louisiana. The third of Melton's solo CDs, this one is special in particular way: it was heroically released on schedule, in Sept. 2005, while the city of New Orleans was dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Described as "Blues, Zydeco, and Cajun Swamp Bop," the cuts on Roadhouse rock. Right from the start, "Zydeco Razzle" fires up the stove and puts out the heat; "Papa Mojo" gets as down-low funky as possible-and then some. This is dance music, y'all! For a classic Southwestern Louisiana swamp pop tune, check out "Missing You Baby." "Ils Son Parti" is a boogie that features Landreth burning down the house. "Pray for Day" showcases Melton's atmospheric flavor of the blues. The other songs are equally juicy (including Ray Charles' "What I Say).
Melton says he likes people to feel, on hearing his music, as if they've been "down in the swamp at a big party, and they've had a great time!" Well, you don't have to wait to catch the Mojos in person, folks, because this time, the party is at Papa Mojo's Roadhouse. Head on over and laissez les bon temps roulez!
Want to read more? More reviews available at the following links:
Check out the artist's website:
1. Zydeco Razzle
2. Papa Mojo
3. Juke Joints & Honkytonks
4. Missing You Baby
5. Ils Sont Parti
6. Funky Nola
7. Pray for Day
8. Mama Mamou
9. What I Say
10. Bunkie Boogie
11. Song for Laurel (Lagniappe)