Jerry Raines

Jerry RainesWhen Morgan City record shop owner Andrew Blanco decided to throw his hat into the rock 'n' roll ring in 1959 by starting Drew-Blan Records, he could hardly have known that he'd crash the gate with his very first outing, Jerry Raines' "Our Teenage Love." Within a couple of years, the song had been covered by Rod Bernard and Dale and Grace. During the '70s its timelessness revealed itself once again in a version on Freddy Fender's ABC/ Dot album Swamp Gold. With its tearful teenage lyrics and subject matter of unrequited love, the song is a stone cold swamp pop classic.

Swamp pop music often unwittingly set itself apart from its close cousin New Orleans R&B strictly by design: without benefit of the studio musicians so readily available in New Orleans, a rougher, more homegrown edge was evident due to the use of teenage musicians. Raines—as well as his local idol, Morgan City dynamo Jerry Byrne—were exceptions to this rule. "Our Teenage Love" and its storming flip side "Dangerous Redhead" disposed of Jerry's own band for the recording—engineer Cosimo Matassa insisted—and instead used the same crack team of musicians that played on virtually all of the records that came out of Matassa's Governor Nicholls Street studio at the time: Roy Montrell on guitar, John Boudreaux on drums, Mac Rebennack on piano, Earl Stanley on bass, Lee Allen on tenor sax and Big Boy Myles on trombone. The result of this meeting of the town and the city was a record that made quite a bit of noise in both places and became a South Louisiana classic. Jerry's next recording "Has Been"/ "No More" used the same ballad/ rocker strategy and magic studio combination. Thereafter, Raines was backed by Joe Barry's bayou rulin' Vikings, one of the most potent combos to ever call Bayou Lafourche their home. (And that's saying something!)

One of Raines' most interesting traits is his way with an R&B number. Never dispensing his original material, the Vikings spurred him to perfection with killer versions of Junior Parker's "Barefoot Rock" and Smiley Lewis's "I Hear You Knockin.'" While combing through the vaults to put together Raines' retrospective Dangerous Redhead (Night Train Records, 2000) a version of Elvis's "Dixieland Rock" was discovered—as were a bunch of great acoustic demos cut during his years of teenage glory. Possessed of a near-photographic memory, Raines is known for favoring the obscure over the over-played. He's threatening to do his version of Larry Williams' "Slow Down" on the 11th, but you can be sure you'll be hearing his greatest original sides as well

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