Saturday, June 21, 2008

BLUE MERLOT

At dusk, evening before last, our good friends Brenda Lowry and Bubba Murrell aka “Blue Merlot,” “Women at the Well” performers, just voted “The Best Jazz Group in Acadiana,” appeared on our doorstep here at Sewanee. For four hours we had a real Cajun confab ranging from Gruen guitars to a fantastical tale Bubba is writing, part of which involves angels and Cajuns. “Well, Chere, isn’t that all there is, anyway – Angels and Cajuns?” I said. Bubba laughed and gave me a story line that only those who can stand at the edge of far-out imaginings and allow thoughts to flow without getting into a linear mode can follow.

Brenda gave us a copy of their new recording of “Women at the Well,” re-titled “There Is A Well,” a collection of songs that is beginning to have a history – it’s about women disciples and what Christ meant to them, imagined by Brenda and Bubba -- a wholly original interpretation of the feelings of New Testament women who followed Christ. The morning after our visit with these two talented musicians, we played the new recording before going to Dalton, Georgia on a day trip and agreed that these two performers were only getting to be the best musicians in the South.

Bubba, keyboard and production artist, guitarist, and songwriter par excellence, recently received a Grammy award for engineering and producing Grammy winner Terrance Simeon’s “Best Zydeco or Cajun Album.” Brenda, vocalist, rhythm guitarist, and songwriter, was recently named a Luna Guitars endorser, which is a woman-led company that empowers musicians by encouraging their growth in the music world through use of fine instruments. For full-length articles about Brenda and Bubba, log on to www.bluemerlot.com where you can read about their music, which is described as “gumbo funk,” sounds that combine genres of Louisiana blues, jazz, Gospel, swamp pop and R&B.

Over ten years ago, I can remember sitting across from Brenda at a table in Poupart’s Bakery, Lafayette, LA, listening to her talk about getting back to her music which began when she attended Loyola in New Orleans as an undergraduate. I encouraged her to “follow her bliss,” as did several professional people who discerned her singing abilities early on. When I was ordained a deacon in 1999, she and Bubba teamed up to produce and perform “Women at the Well” as an ordination gift for me. A few years later, I rented the apartment alongside my house in New Iberia, LA to them so they could have a private studio for developing their music; they practiced their music there until they found larger quarters for studio work.

Brenda and Bubba have spiraled into the music limelight since teaming up over ten years ago and play for festivals, dance halls, churches, restaurants, retreats, fundraisers, and private parties. When we visit with them, we often talk about mutual woes concerning the marketing of artistic work, but I always emerge from three to four hours of intense conversation about Art feeling inspired to persist with my own writing work. I hope that when they left at almost midnight, bound for Nashville and a trade show, they carried the same inspiration with them –soul-filling musicians that they are.
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