About six years ago, friends of Brint Anderson heard him playing some Earl King songs. Because no one had recorded a King tribute album yet, they suggested Anderson do it.
King is one of New Orleans’ great early rhythm-and-blues and funk songwriters. “Trick Bag,” “Street Parade,” “Come On” (aka “Let the Good Times Roll”) and Professor Longhair’s “Big Chief” are a few of the pearls King composed.
King died in 2003 at 69. His memorial service at Gallier Hall inspired an all-star, only-in-New Orleans turnout.
Anderson is more than qualified to record a King tribute album. He’s been a guitarist with George Porter Jr.’s Runnin’ Pardners for 23 years. In the 1990s, Anderson backed King, Snooks Eaglin, Johnny Adams and other essential, now departed, New Orleans R&B artists.
Anderson released “Covered in Earl” last month. True to its source, the album contains authentic renditions of King’s fun, wise, infectious songs.
Anderson will perform songs from his King tribute album Saturday afternoon at the Louisiana Music Factory. Hot Club of New Orleans and the Hot 8 Brass Band are on the bill, too. The music starts at 2 p.m.
In addition to King’s own recordings of his compositions, many local and international artists recorded his songs. Besides Professor Longhair’s “Big Chief,” there’s Lee Dorsey’s “Do-Re-Mi”; Curley Moore’s “Soul Train”; John Boutte’s “Let’s Make a Better World”; Jimi Hendrix’s and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s recordings of “Come On”; and British star Robert Palmer’s take on “Trick Bag.”
Anderson’s “Covered in Earl” offers 13 King compositions and one non-King composition, “The Things That I Used to Do.” The latter song was the biggest hit by 1950s blues star Guitar Slim.
For good reason, Anderson opted to record “The Things That I Used to Do” rather than King’s similar “Those Lonely, Lonely Nights.” He’s saving “Lonely Nights” for volume two of “Covered In Earl.”
“Guitar Slim took Earl under his wing and schooled him on a lot of stuff,” Anderson explained recently. “So I thought I oughta do that one first.”
In the early and mid-1950s, King had another significant mentor, band mate Huey “Piano” Smith.
“He is an inspiration to me,” King told The Advocate in 1998. “He wrote a lot of stuff that was like me, a lot of satire stuff, with a kind of jovial spirit.”
King’s music and lyrics are lighthearted, Anderson said. “Earl, he was a fun-loving guy. He always wrote about love and happiness. Even his songs about not getting along with his woman have a funny side to them.”
Anderson recorded “Covered In Earl” following years of performing King’s songs, with the Runnin’ Pardners, the Brint Anderson Band, at his solo acoustic gigs and with the composer himself.
It took some encouragement, though, to motivate singer-guitarist Anderson to commit, at last, to making “Covered in Earl.”
“Someone finally told me, ‘Quit talking about it and just do it!’ I said, ‘You’re right.’ I’m 61 now. I thought, ‘I better get busy and do it before I’m out of here. I’m going to do this now and see what happens.’ So far, everyone is supporting me on it. It’s been great.”
And it’s still great being with Porter and the Runnin’ Pardners.
“He, his wife and their entire family have been so gracious and kind to me,” Anderson said. “We’re more than just musicians who work together. We are family.”