Reed Turchi has long been a student of the blues, whether exploring the Hill Country sounds of North Mississippi with his electrified band Turchi or taking on staples by the likes of RL Burnside and Mississippi Fred McDowell as a solo artist with nothing but an acoustic guitar and a slide. Along his bluesy path Turchi has also explored original pop and Americana with his band the Caterwauls.
Recently Turchi took on one of his most ambitious endeavors yet when he enlisted a huge cast of musicians – including Gregg Allman and JJ Grey & Mofro saxophonist Art Edmaiston – to take part in his Kudzu Orchestra. The 11 musicians met up for a special performance at Nashville’s Soulshine Pizza Factory this past July with the mission to spread unity via the relentless power of the monochordal, on-the-one romp groove. The live recording, which is being released on October 25th, gives testament to its potency. Of the eleven musicians who comprised the Orkestra that night, only a handful had ever been in the same room together, not to mention ever having shared a stage, and some didn’t even have a clue which song would come next in the setlist. The resulting performance and live recording captures a group of talented musicians locked into their almost spontaneous creation of deep-groove psychedelic interstellar blues.
Today we’re excited to premiere not one but two of those tracks right here on Glide. The loose and rambling blues boogie tune “Keep On Drinkin'” features some damn fine keyboard work and a melange of trippy musical effects that take music into spacey territory before erupting into a frenzy of slide guitar. With the Kudzu Orchestra, one jam often begets another and in this case the tune segues into “Kudzu Raga”, an instrumental track that feels like what would happen if Ravi Shankar, the Allman Brothers, and Phish got together for an impromptu jam session. In other words, this is heady stuff.
Orchestra member and rock journalist Andy Ellis sums it up as “Sun Ra meets Mississippi Fred McDowell in 2017 Nashville”.