Walter 'Wolfman' Washington (was: Mardi Gras Blues)

Maggie Mortensen exarch@ACCESSCOM.NET
Tue Feb 6 15:14:42 EST 1996

Keith Castleberry wrote:
> ???The Mobile Press has an article on Walter Wolfman Washington. New Orleans
> Blues Guy. Has anyone out there heard him before??

I'm gonna have to rein my enthusiasm and verbosity in a bit for this post,
'cause I could go on about Walter for *weeks*--he and his band, The
Roadmasters, are my very favorite New Orleans performing musicians, and I'm
happy to count him and his longtime companion, Ashby Dashiell, among my fond
acquaintances.  I see him perform at least once a month when he's in town,
and he hangs out a lot in my neighborhood tavern.

His music is the smoothest blending ever of blues, jazz and soul elements;
his guitar playing style is funky funky funky and owes a debt to Johnny
'Guitar' Watson, but is so distinctive that I can now recognize it on old New
Orleans studio recordings with almost 100% accuracy.  I've heard some people
say they don't care for Walter's voice, which ranges from down and gritty to
a wailing falsetto, but I personally love it.  Wilbert 'Junkyard Dog' Arnold,
one of our city's most-employed, funkiest drummers brings a distinctive
second-line beat to the lineup, and the Roadmaster Horns could give the
Memphis Horns a run for their money; Jack Cruz on bass completes the squad.

Brief bio: he's in his early fifties, native New Orleanian, played and toured
for many years in Lee Dorsey's band, and then backed up local soul crooner
Johnny Adams for a long time before starting his own band, which I'd guess
was about eight or ten years ago...and you can hear a lot of Adams' soulful
influence in Walter's voice.

Brief discog: Several recent Rounder recordings, including 'Wolf Tracks',
'Wolf at the Door' and 'Sada'.  Most recent release is a European CD titled
'Blue Moon Rising' with superb title cut.  My personal favorites are the 'at
the Door' (which is Rounder 2098) and a compilation CD that Britain's Charley
records put out as part of their Master of the Blues series.  The Charley
release is old stuff with a different band lineup than he currently has,
interesting in its lack of polish compared to the newer releases.  Funkier.

Walter and the Roadmasters tour a lot, and if you hear of them coming near
your town, run don't walk...his renditions of Doc Pomus' 'Hello Stranger',
and of 'I Got a Woman', interspersed with his own original tunes, will make
you weep for joy--when you're not dancing.

Oh yeah--and if he looks like he's about to jump off the stage into the
audience, clear a path; he's about to start playing the guitar with his
teeth, from a prone position on the floor.


Maggie Mortensen
Exarch Services
New Orleans USA
'I'm not sure, but I think that
ALL music started in New Orleans.'
--Ernie K-Doe

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