Born in Mississippi in 1951, Landreth calls himself a "native stepson" of Louisiana, where he grew up outside Lafayette, south of Interstate 10—the heart of Cajun country. Like a kid who grows up in New York dreaming of playing with the Yankees, Landreth grew up listening to zydeco kings Clifton and Cleveland Chenier—who eventually did recruit the hot young guitar player to tour with them.
But Landreth also kept in touch with his Mississippi roots, mastering slide guitar, and put rock in his soul, eventually heavy-hitting in the bands of John Hiatt, John Mayall and others. Now, on his third solo album, he has put all the influences together to create a bluestinged, Cajun-spiced rock gumbo that's as strong as the Louisiana heat.
The killer cut is the 6-minute "Congo Square," a dark jaunt built on a New Orleans funeral march beat. Congo Square, Landreth says, "was the only place in old New Orleans where the slaves were allowed to congregate freely and practice their voodoo rituals and dance." If they conjured up the kind of medicine Landreth and company do here, they went home slaves to nothing but the magic of music. (Zoo Entertainment/Praxis)