New Orleans premier washboard - sousaphone - guitar trio



Sing With Me

Living Blues by Robert Cataliotti


Sing With Me – No # 

The Tin Men, with its quirky instrumenta- tion—guitarist and vocalist Alex McMurray, washboard player and vocalist Washboard Chaz Leary and sousaphonist Matt Perrine—is a quintessential New Orleans band, funky and 

fun, bluesy and always in the groove..With their fifth album, Sing With Me, a follow-up to the On the Shady Side (2015), which was largely focused on covering New Orleans jazz, blues and R&B classics, they return to the mix of wildly creative originals by McMurray and the surprising cover choices that characterized their first three outings. 

One thing that is immediately apparent about the band—either on record or in live performance—is just how much music they can generate with this odd combination of instruments. And, that can be attributed to the remarkably high level of musicianship that each of these guys possess and the
way they work together both in ensemble passages and in supporting soloists. This
is illustrated on the Leary-sung, McMurray original Scraperman with its sousaphone/gui- tar unison lines riffing behind the wry vocal and shuffling washboard patterns. 

McMurray is a fascinating songwriter who is at home with so many different approaches. His Hard Candy sports all the characteristics of rollicking New Orleans
R&B and is enhanced by guest spots from baritone saxophonist Joe Cabral and pianist Glen Hartman. His Payday brings to mind the carefree lilt of a Hank Williams barroom tune and features outstanding vocal harmonies. The McMurray tune that truly shines here is the funky, swinging Part of Me that features double entendre lyrics that evoke the sophisti- cation of Cole Porter. 

Beyond McMurray’s songcraft, the
Tin Men come up with a dizzying array of obscure and not so obscure covers that they meld to their unique format. A testimony to their resourcefulness, they move from the Harlem Hamfats’ Root Hog or Die, featuring a mindboggling sousaphone solo from Perrine (How does he blow that hard, long and inventively?) to the madcap Borneo (a 1928 hit for Ben Bernie and his Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra), from an echo-enhanced Leary vocal and jagged-edged McMurray guitar line on Led Zeppelin’s Misty Mountain Hop to the totally improbable (given the instrumen- tation) remake of Herbie Hancock’s electronic dance hit Rockit (not kidding!). And, they bring it all back home with two New Orleans classics, a funkified second-line strut through Tootie Ma Is a Big Fine Thing and bouncy three-way washboard, sousaphone, guitar counterpoint leading into a virtuoso wash- board solo on Allen Toussaint’s Life. Sing With Me is a triumph of New Orleans roots music inventiveness. 

— Robert H. Cataliotti 

© Tin Men Music 2024