Live: A Night at Tipitina’s - Mem Shannon


Live: A Night at Tipitina's


"Mem Shannon is a national treasure. He's New Orleans' hometown Blues legend and captured live at Tipitina's, there is no better way to hear him except in front of the man, in an audience. We're lucky here, having only recently been treated to Mem's show at BNL. Mem has a unique ability to communicate. From SUV behemoths dominating the roadway to the unstoppable power of funk grooves, Mem makes it. Supported by his trusty road band and 3 of New Orleans' best saxmen, this disk is sweet and phat. Angelo Nocentelli percolates bass with his family genes showing. Josh Milligan lays down the backbeat and the percussives hard and smooth while Rhock massages his Yamaha. Mem's axe has a surgical edge and a bludgeon of sound. Together, they have a groovethang going. This CD is a greatest hits of Mem's best old and new delivered with a punch from tear filled eyes of All I Have to raving rockers like Phunkville. The set is tight yet relaxed and clearly aimed at an appreciative and partisan hometown audience. Mem lathers on the oomph on Tom Petty's I Won't Back Down, making it rock and it's got a load of Iguana-sizzle too! The NO funk oozes out of No Such Thing and 13 minutes of - closes with a smoking jam. This is one smoker, ribs, brisket and all. 9 snaves"

-Dr. Blues CD Reviews
October 27, 2007 


"If a live album is a snapshot of an artist, the performance frozen in time, then Live: A Night at Tipitina's is that and then some. Clean and simple Mem Shannon transcends all genres, channeling the spirits of creativity. His guitar playing defines tasteful. His voice and lyrics always make you smile. And in this performance you catch the real Mem, right at home in LA.

"Recorded on one night with absolutely no overdubs, this album goes beyond any studio cut. More than a local icon outplaying familiar tunes to a devoted hometown crown, Shannon blows the "usual" out of the water."

-The John Shelton Ivany Top Twenty-One, Issue #304
October, 2007 


"Mem Shannon is a triple-threat. He summons up the spirit of New Orleans like few others, mainly because his funky grooves are saturated with lessons supremely learned from cats like Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, and the Neville Brothers. His rich, mellow baritone voice is both authoritative and warm, while his guitar work is supremely tasteful and funky to the core. But his ace-in-the-hole is his ability to tell a great story with his own unique philosophical spin. That puts him in a league with such classic blues raconteurs as Lightnin’ Hopkins, Muddy Watters, Bessie Smith, Robert Johnson, and Lighnin’ Slim.

"At long last, we have a live performance to savor
Live-A Night at Tipitina’s and it’s a hot 70-minute set by Mem & the Membership at that legendary nightspot and provides ample evidence why Shannon’s a walkin’ and talkin’ blues master. His trademark soulful Funk is in full display, but the bottom line is this is his most convincing outing since his debut Cab Driver Blues.

"Blues was meant to be heard live, so any performer worth his salt will always sounds better doing his thing in front of an audience. Those two facts have never rung more true than on L-ANAT. Backed by a punchy three-man horn section, an evening of pure soulful Funk goes down superbly as groove after delicious groove whets one’s appetite for more and more. The rhythm section of Angelo Nocentelli (bass) and Josh Milligan (drums) display a mastery of funky rhythms that’s second to none. But the captain of this funky spaceship is Mem Shannon and his masterful stewardship is the glue that holds it all together.

No Religion is the tour de force of the set, although Don’t Back Down is a real close second. Amidst all the funky happenings, one can’t help but notice All I Have where a pile of debris left in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation becomes a poignant reminder of a lifetime of memories. Powerful stuff! Live-A Night At Tipitina’s is packed with excitement and gets my wholehearted recommendation."

-Gary Tate
September, 2007 


"'His guitar playing is the definition of tasteful,' says Gary Hirstius, opening up the live show at Tipitina's last Mardi Gras week when Mem Shannon recorded this album. True, New Orleans' most famous former cabbie can play with restraint, but where's the fun in that? Shannon's dexterity and long solos are the meat of his brand of funky, electric blues. His fans, however, are barely in evidence on this squeaky-clean-sounding live recording. Except for a couple of well-mixed-in hoots at the beginning, Live: A Night at Tipitina's sounds like a studio record. It's a collection of long, long jams, some of which come off fabulously and some of which could have been abbreviated. An 11-minute take on the Neville Brothers' Voodoo erases the sinister spookiness of its 1989 version in exchange for a fresh, jazzy series of solos from his all-star band (Joe Cabral, Tim Green and Jason Mingledorff on sax; Angelo Nocentelli on bass, Josh Milligan on drums and others) that comes together more engagingly than the effect of obligatory solo-trading during shows. Seven minutes each on tracks like Smell Something and Who Are They, though, take semi-lame lyrical jokes a little too far. Like any live show, though, the album heats up and gets loose midway through. The flashpoint on Live is No Religion, a blistering blues jam soon followed by the R&B Katrina tearjerker All I Have. On All I Have, Tim Green plays the Conn-O-Sax -- an all-metal, F-keyed saxophone with a high, reedy sound. The instrument looks like a musclebound oboe, and was only made in the late '20s and early '30s -- it's rare to hear a recording of one, and it adds a plaintive, angelic note to the song. The shy, subdued track Forget About Me, dutifully running through several archetypal blues narratives, has the most old-school style soul of any track on the record -- it splits showtime between Mem's guitar and the more-than-able horns -- and is a pure and classic R&B weeper. All in all, the recording's so clean we can't really tell if it was a fun night or not, but judging from the music, it must have been."

-Alison Fensterstock
Gambit Weekly
July 10, 2007 


"'Ain't no such thing as too much funk,' Mem Shannon declares during this live set at New Orleans' most famous club. As a Crescent City bluesman, Shannon puts plenty of funk into his music, but that's not all that distinguishes him.

"Shannon is a master storyteller who can lighten an autobiographical tale of tough times like
Payin' My Dues or the stinging social commentary of Who Are They with just the right touch of humor. What comes through most here, however, is the warmth and resilience at the heart of Shannon's blues, whether it's the way he segues from the poignant Katrina lament All I Have into Tom Petty's I Won't Back Down, or just the way his clean but sharp guitar defiantly cuts through all that horn-fueled funk."

-Nick Cristiano
Philidelphia Enquirer
August 26, 2007 


"Mem Shannon’s album Live: A Night at Tipitina’s (Northern Blues) is just another good club gig in New Orleans, which is to say it stirs together blues, funk and rhythm-and-blues and slips a hardheaded attitude into the grooves. Mr. Shannon is equally impressive as a singer who can shout and moan, an incisive lead guitarist and a straight-talking songwriter, particularly in songs like Forget About Me and Who Are They, in which he sings: 'They say that everything’s looking real, real good/They must have forgotten to check my neighborhood.' And if he’s a little sentimental in All I Have, his song about debris and memories after Hurricane Katrina - well, he’s earned it."

-Jon Pareles
New York Times
July 15, 2007