As the crow flies, the distance between Greenville, MS and New Orleans, LA is just 300 miles. But when pianist Eden Brent traveled from her hometown of Greenville to the Crescent City to record ‘Ain’t Got No Troubles,’ her sophomore album for Yellow Dog Records, she added 100 miles to the journey, eschewing the interstate for the meandering country highways that parallel the Mississippi River’s serpentine route.
That circuitous road trip, which ended at New Orleans’ Piety Street Studios (Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint, The Blind Boys of Alabama) where she recorded with producer Colin Linden (Mavis Staples, Cassandra Wilson), could serve as an analogy for Brent’s own career.
For sixteen years starting in her late teens, Brent served as apprentice (and later, as manager and duet partner) to Abie “Boogaloo” Ames, one of the last of the great Mississippi Delta pianists. The stint netted Brent the nickname “Little Boogaloo” and a partiality for a decidedly eclectic repertoire, learned from Ames, who would pepper his sets with everything from down home blues and boogie-woogie to Broadway hits and Ellington.
Brent’s decision to look south to New Orleans was a quest to further broaden her sound: Working with bassist George Porter, Jr., she and Linden injected her gritty, rootsy music with spicy elements that earmark the unmistakable Crescent City sound.
The title track (one of eight on the disc penned by Brent) evokes a typical New Orleans afternoon, where good times seem to beckon from every corner bar. Bringing to mind a tradition started by the late James Booker, Brent strips away all the excess for the daringly bare “Blues All Over,” then electrifies the room for the rip-roaring, Jerry Lee Lewis-styled “Let’s Boogie-Woogie.” A syncopated rumba beat drives “In Love With Your Wallet.”
The Memphis soul-pop song “Leave Me Alone” features a horn section, thick slide guitar, and Jon Cleary’s lowdown organ chords, which effortlessly intermingle with Brent’s emotive, smoke-stained vocals.
The Wall Street Journal has called Eden Brent “a force to reckon with…aggressive, sultry, hot and cool.” Nominated for four 2009 Blues Music Awards, Brent took home trophies for Acoustic Album of the Year and Acoustic Artist of the Year and brought the crowd to its feet with her take-no-prisoners performance: http://bit.ly/edenbrentyoutube
She will perform at the 2010 Blues Music Awards May 6 in Memphis, TN, where she is nominated for the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player Award. Brent will also perform at the Center for Southern Folklore in Memphis on May 6 at noon.