â€œIâ€™m used to playing with another person. To do something like that by myself, I was kind of nervous,â€ saidÂ Walter â€œWolfmanâ€ Washington, sitting in a chair in his living room and talking about his new recordÂ My Future Is My Past, produced byÂ Ben Ellman of Galactic. He smiles and continues, â€œOh man, it was really a thing.Â I had never done something like that. I had to really discipline myself where I couldnâ€™t really underplay and really overplay, so I had to stay really in the middle which was a trick for me. I was amazed at my own self at how it turned out.â€
Now 74 years old, Walter â€œWolfmanâ€ Washington has been a mainstay in the New Orleans music scene since the early 1960s. He cut his teeth backing up some of the best singers and performers in New Orleans history includingÂ Lee Dorsey, Johnny Adams, and Irma ThomasÂ before putting together his long time bandÂ The Roadmasters, who have been burning down and burning up local and national stages since their first gigs in the 1980s. This new record confirms what fans have known for years: Walter â€œWolfman Washington has soul to go along with that fire.
Like many African-American musicians in the South, Washington started singing in school and the church. He had just hit double digits when he formed an acapella spirituals group in his neighborhood called the True Love and Gospel Singers.Â One Sunday they went on the local gospel show on WBOK to sing, and Washington noticed the guitar player in the studio who was playing behind them. â€œI just sat there and watched him,â€ Washington recalls, â€œHe was playing with all his fingers.â€ When Washington got home he made his own guitar from a cigar box, rubber bands, and a clothes hanger. One of his uncles saw this and gave him a real guitar, and Washington started practicing. His dad supported his music, and took him to see a musician he knew across the river from New Orleans, and those two played his first gig in Gretna, Louisiana. Even though his parents were not musicians, â€œI had lots of uncles who played guitar.Â Guitar SlimÂ andÂ Lightninâ€™ SlimÂ were my uncles. AndÂ Ernie K-DoeÂ â€“ the renowned New Orleans performer and singer of international hit â€œMother in Lawâ€ â€“ was his cousin.
Washington continued playing with different musicians around New Orleans â€“ includingÂ Irma Thomas, who sings the great slow burner â€œEven Nowâ€ onÂ My Future is My Past. Lee Dorsey was Washingtonâ€™s first big gig.Â Dorsey was a New Orleans singer with a couple big hits, â€œRide Your Ponyâ€ and â€œWorking in a Coal Mineâ€ under his belt.Â Dorsey hired the 19 year old Washington to go on the road with him where he spent the next two and a half years. It was 1962. â€œThe furthest Iâ€™d ever been from home was Mississippi or Baton Rouge,â€ chuckled Washington, â€œOur first gig was at the Apollo Theatre in New York, and we drove straight there in a red Cadillac. It was great.â€
My Future is My PastÂ is a different kind of record than his playing with Lee Dorsey or The Roadmasters. Washington had to take more care with these songs. He explained, â€œWhen youâ€™re with a band, you have to really punch it out.Â When youâ€™re alone, you have to pay attention to your notes and pronunciation and stuff. And then you have to put your soul into it and your feelings. Each one of the songs is a story. You can actually picture things like that happening. I had to fix my mind into each of the situations in the song.â€
Shamarr Allen is the definition of New Orleans Music! Hailing from the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, Allen has influences in jazz, hip hop, rock, funk, funk blues and country. He is the lead vocalist and trumpeter of his band “Shamarr Allen and the Underdawgs”.
In addition to performing with his band, Allen has collaborated with many renowned artists such as Willie Nelson, Galactic, Mannie Fresh, Patti Labelle, Harry Connick Jr. and Lenny Kravitz to name a few. In addition to displaying his skills on the frontline as a lead performer, Allen is also a music composer, writer, producer and multi instrumentalist. With a scintillating and unique sound, look and examplary talents, Allen transcends musical boundaries. He is the True Orleans Experience!