Lou Ann Barton
Gig Seeker Pro

Lou Ann Barton

| INDIE

| INDIE
Band Blues World

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

This band hasn't logged any past gigs

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos

Music

Press


There are few visions in rock and roll more incendiary than the sight of "Miss Lou Ann," trailing smoke, stalking out onto a stage in a miniskirt you could stick in a highball glass. The look, the attitude--it's all there in the single hip-shot glance she gives the audience before launching a cigarette butt into the shadows with the flick of one insouciant nail.

The look, the attitude, and ... the voice. A buzz saw fueled by honey, it is a voice that can cut a swath through lust and love, and the million shades of blues in between.

It is a formidable weapon to be placed in the hands of a Fort Worth girl whose daddy drove a truck, and whose mama runs a bookstore. Even today, there is still a lot of Cowtown in the whiskey frosting she puts on words like "time" and "cry" and "man".

But there is too, in the strength and supple wisdom of that voice, the legacy of years spent fronting bands with wonderful names like "The Fabulous Thunderbirds" and "Roomful of Blues" and "The Five Careless Lovers," and "Lou Ann and the Fliptops".

The years and that voice have taken Barton from Fort Worth gin mills to the glittering showcase clubs that spangle both coasts. On her album, Read My Lips , she comes home again, via classic readings of songs from the repertoires of Slim Harpo, Wanda Jackson, Barbara Lynn, Jimmy Reed, Irma Thomas, and others.

This third album represents the latest chapter in the evolution of an impeccable song stylist. As a singer, she has the guts of a daylight burglar and an infallible sense of where the heart of a song lies.

It was that ingrained gift which caught the ear of legendary soul/blues producer Jerry Wexler one night in 1980, when Lou Ann was performing in a Manhattan club. Wexler offered to produce the singer virtually on the spot, and her debut effort (co-produced by Wexler and Glenn Frey) was released as Old Enough, on the Asylum label in 1982. She earned rave reviews from just about every critic in America, including "four-star" ratings in Rolling Stone and the New York Times. It was the only debut album of the year to appear on MTV's Top Ten list.

Unfortunately, Barton was dropped from the label during a corporate shuffle. An abortive follow-up project never materialized, and some personal demons conspired to dampen her momentum. It wasn't until 1986 that Lou Ann reemerged on the independent Spindletop label with Forbidden Tones, an album that never received the distribution it deserved. In reviewing that album, Rolling Stone called Barton, "the most commanding white female belter to erupt out of Texas since Janis Joplin. In less prosaic, but more pungent language, Linda Ronstadt observed, "this woman scares me to death.

All of which mattered not at all to her fans in Austin and around the country. She and fellow chanteuse Angela Strehli have been playing ping-pong with the "Best Female Vocalist" award in the Austin Chronicle Reader's Poll for the past several years (Lou Ann captured the honor in 1984,'86 and '87.) She was even lionized in an issue of Esquire as one of the "Women We Love" in a feature by that name.

Listeners can be forgiven for believing that now is indeed Lou Ann's time. Read My Lips incorporates the cream of Austin's blues players (including members of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Stevie Ray Vaughan's Double Trouble, the Antone's, and the Joe Ely Band, along with guests like David "Fathead" Newman and Bobby "Blue" Bland alumnus Mel Brown.)

One of the songs Lou Ann covers on her album is Wanda Jackson's "Mean Mean Man." Of Jackson, a prototypical '50s rocker, journalist Nick Tosches wrote, "Her voice, a wild fluttering thing of sexy subtleties and sudden harshnesses, feral feline purrings and raving banshee shriekings, was a vulgar wonder to hear. She was a girl who could growl..."

Tosches didn't know it, but he was writing about Lou Ann Barton as well. - Texas Music Group


Finally! Another album from Lou Ann Barton. Sugar Coated Love (1999) is a reissue, but Lou Ann's fans are just happy to get something new from the seldom recorded Barton.

She's seldom on the stage either, and knowledgeable blues fans are always writing to MusicAustin seeking information about where to see her or where to get her music (we don't know any more than you do...). Her frustrating elusiveness is a problem for the true blues fan.

Lou Ann Barton is one of the finest purveyors of raw, unadulterated roadhouse blues that you'll ever hear. She can belt out a lyric that can be heard over the crowd in any Texas roadhouse. She's a veteran of thousands of dance hall and club shows all over Texas. Barton moved to Austin in the 1970s and later performed with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Jimmie Vaughan and Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.

Considered her finest album, Old Enough, was first released in 1981. She belts out her lyrics in a twangy voice so full of Texas that you can smell the barbecue sauce, and so full of sexy sass that you know she's found her genre and it is a perfect fit. Old Enough was reissued on compact disc in 1992 on the Antone's label.

Barton has several other excellent albums out on the Austin-based Antone's Records, including Read My Lips (1989). Read My Lips was called "a living testimony to the roots of American popular music" by Rolling Stone.

The lucky blues fans who have seen her live know that Lou Ann Barton represents the best in the evolution of the blues, and hope that she will find a way to be recorded more often in the new millenium so that more people around the world can enjoy her music.

In 1990, Barton was joined by vocalists Marcia Ball and Angela Strehli for a rare collaborative effort entitled Dreams Come True.

Dreams has become the Antone's label's best-seller. - TexasMusic


In the South, where her exploits are legend, Texas born and bred Lou Ann Barton is known as a tough-talking, hard-drinking sweetheart of a singer who can quiet a rowdy house with a tender country ballad or shake the foundations with a raucous blues rocker. Her attitude – expressed in the bold swagger of her sharply accented, whiskey-with-beer-for-a-chaser voice–recalls several of the most influential female singers in rock & roll, R&B and country music: Irma Thomas, Arlene Smith, Tina Turner, Wanda Jackson, Patsy Cline and others.

While these qualities may make for great art, they don't exactly sell many records in today's market. Producers Jerry Wexler and Glenn Frey realized the problem and, instead of documenting one of Barton's honky-tonk sets, they skillfully revised her repertoire, adding several contemporary songs stylistically rooted in the eras to which she relates. Wexler then ensured sympathetic musical support by recording at Muscle Shoals. The result is the most audacious album debut of this young year.

Old Enough is a mixture of tunes, old and new, couched in a hot, uncluttered production. The focus is always on the singing, though the musicians have ample room to express themselves. Like Aretha Franklin, Lou Ann Barton is an interpretive artist with an extraordinary understanding of a lyric's multilayered meanings. She can project a compelling viewpoint by emphasizing, lingering over or throwing away a line whenever she feels like it.

Handclaps and a robust guitar ostinato kick off Marshall Crenshaw's "Brand New Lover." The band purrs along until the chorus, when a tempo change and some background vocals lift the number onto a more intense emotional plane. At song's end, Barton engages in a passionate call-and-response, crying out "There isn't any other" as her backup singers declaim "Need a brand new lover" over and over.

From this plateau, Barton glides into Naomi Neville's (the nom de plume of Allen Toussaint) "It's Raining," with Al Garth's searing, plaintive sax solo providing a dramatic counterpoint to the star's morose vocals. Though the feeling of standing on sanity's edge after losing a lover is inherent in "It's Raining," Barton fights back by wailing "I wish it would stop."

"It Ain't Right," "Finger Poppin' Time" and "Every Night of the Week" are rollicking, good-time compositions fueled by outstanding instrumental work as well as terrific singing. In fact, "It Ain't Right" only starts to soar with the introduction of Duncan Cameron's sinewy, serpentine guitar playing. Likewise, the "real good time" Barton sings about in "Finger Poppin' Time" is largely inspired by Greg Piccolo's hilarious tenor saxophone burps.

Lou Ann Barton's best moment occurs in "Maybe," a tune that's been done right just once before, in its original version by Arlene Smith and the Chantels. But Barton knows how to handle it, and Wexler and Frey wisely let her take center stage, without even a short solo to interrupt. At the beginning, she sounds like a little girl hoping that perhaps her one true passion can be reclaimed. Her rendering of the lines "May-ay-be/If I hold your hand/You will understand" is unrealistically optimistic. But as the number progresses, the artist grows up, stares destiny in the face and refuses to be defeated. The smooth, naive phrasing of the word maybe gives way to a harsh near-scream, almost as if Barton were mocking the innocence displayed in the first two verses. This kind of drama and insight is the result of moving far beyond the lyric sheet and searching elsewhere for the heart of a song – something all great singers do as a matter of course.

Old Enough is one of Jerry Wexler's finest achievements as a producer, as well as an impressive production debut for Glenn Frey. For Lou Ann Barton, the accolades are as well deserved as her future is bright. (RS 366) - David McGee


4 Stars ****

The Bush-era machismo of the title aside, it's hard to imagine that anyone would need to venture beyond the sound of Lou Ann Barton's third album – or the expanse of leg she flashes on the album's cover – to understand that this woman means nasty business. At age thirty-five, after nearly two decades of live performance, this formidable Texas singer has pulled together a set of her favorite R&B burners, and the results are incendiary.

Barton's power as a singer derives not from assertive posturing but from her intuitive understanding of the emotional demands of her material. Her ability to range from a bluesy moan to a fetching country twang in a single phrase makes her voice a living testimony to the roots of American popular music. She sounds equally convincing – and equally strong – whether she's scorching a rocker like "Rocket in My Pocket," telling the hard truth on a searing cover of Barbara Lynn's "You'll Lose a Good Thing" or squeezing the sadness out of "It's Raining," a ballad written by Allen Toussaint and defined by Irma Thomas.

In addition to assembling a fine selection of songs, Barton has kept matters simple and straightforward in her coproduction with Paul Ray. There's nothing fancy or fussy here; the undeniable force of the playing, the singing and the songs tells the whole story. Guests like saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman, harp player Kim Wilson and guitarists Jimmie Vaughan and David Grissom help out bassist Jon Blondell and drummer George Rains, and their performances, far from being star turns, are entirely of a piece with the tunes. In Vaughan's case, Barton coaxes forth some of the most relaxed, articulate playing of his career, particularly on "Sugar Coated Love" and Slim Harpo's delightful "Te Ni Nee Ni Nu."

Read My Lips combines the immediate pleasures of live performance with the ongoing rewards that recorded music must provide. "Let's go someplace where we can rock a bit," Barton sings invitingly, but with this disc spinning, you won't need to move a step.

Read My Lips is available from Antone's, 2928 Guadalupe, Austin, TX 78705. (RS 562) - Anthony Decurtis


Discography

Lou Ann Barton: Albums

Dreams Come True (1990)
Read My Lips (1989)
Forbidden Tones (1986)
Old Enough (1981)

Lou Ann Barton: Appears On

On The Jimmy Reed Highway (Omar Kent Dykes - 2007)
Solos, Sessions, & Encores (Stevie Ray Vaughn - 2007)
Gulf Coast Beach Blast (Various - 2004)
Essential Jimmie Vaughn (Jimmie Vaughn - 2003)
Do You Get The Blues (Jimmie Vaughn - 2001)
Soul Activated (Curtis Salgado - 2001)
An Austin Rhythm & Blues Christmas (Various - 1994)
Strange Pleasure (Jimmie Vaughn - 1994)
Gravity (Alejandro Escovedo - 1992)
Where The Pyramid Meets The Eye (Various - 1990)
With Friends In Texas (Ray Campi - 1988)

Photos

Bio

Booking by:
Jason Clark (RA)
The Nola Soul Agency
512.795.9884
jason@nolasoul.com

(Born Feb 17th 1954 in Fort Worth, TX)
Although she doesn't tour nearly as much as she probably could, Austin-based vocalist Lou Ann Barton is one of the finest purveyors of raw, unadulterated roadhouse blues from the female gender that you'll ever hear. Like Delbert McClinton, she can belt out a lyric so that she can be heard over a two-guitar band with horns. Born February 17, 1954, in Fort Worth, she's a veteran of thousands of dance hall and club shows all over Texas. Barton moved to Austin in the 1970s and later performed with the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. Although she has a few great recordings out, notably Old Enough (1982, Asylum Records), produced by Jerry Wexler and Glenn Frey, Barton has to be seen live to be fully appreciated. She belts out her lyrics in a twangy voice so full of Texas that you can smell the barbecue sauce. She swaggers confidently about the stage, casually tossing her cigarette to the floor as the band kicks in on its first number. The grace, poise and confidence she projects on stage is part of a long tradition for women blues singers. The blues world still needs more good female blues singers like Barton, to help to broaden the appeal of the music to diverse audiences and to further its evolution. Barton has several other excellent albums out on the Austin-based Antone's Records, Read My Lips (1989) and her cooperative effort with fellow Texas blues women Marcia Ball and Angela Strehli, Dreams Come True (1990). Old Enough was reissued on compact disc in 1992 on the Antone's label. The only criticism one could level at Barton -- and it may be unfair because of business complications -- is that she hasn't recorded much. Here's hoping that this premier interpreter of Texas roadhouse blues will be well recorded through the rest of the 1990s (and forever after!).

~ Richard Skelly, All Music Guide.