Monday, January 30, 2012

Seasoned swamp cat conjures Tokio Store audience...

Tokio – Classie Ballou is a Lake Charles native who relocated to Waco for reasons of his own, reasons to which he only alludes with a big, big grin on his face.

Nevertheless, he brought the high-strung and wailing sounds of the Louisiana bayous with him, and he's been wailing on it for decades out of his central Texas digs.

His fondest hope is that his daughter Cean – short for Cacean – will “carry on the family name.”

She accompanies the veteran blues cat on an extremely rare Steinberg electric bass, one of only 200 ever made, and it's steady as a clock.

The duo has been playing Al's Tokio Store for many years. In fact, Classie, who goes back to such numbers as “Oh – Ma Ma” and other Creole hits, can remember the time previous to the present parking regulations applied to Al's Tokio, when “Cars and motorcycles and pickups were parked all along the road.”

He's packed the century-plus year-old tavern many times over the years. When he appears there, bikers from Whitney, Meridian, McGregor and points east and south fall in to hear the bon temps roule.

When it comes to Chicago-style Delta blues, there are two criteria that immediately come to mind – playing at the top of the audience's nerves to milk all the pathos they have and let the feelings flow down over their heads like the very palpable thing the blues really are, and the second, conjuring that audience so that each and every man, woman and child feel as if they are rgw one person in that audience to whom the shouter is really dealing the stuff out, really socking it to that one person for effect and the kind of feelings that flood the nerve endings and cause that total reaction felt from the roots of the hair to the toenails.

Yes. Yay-us!

Mr. Ballou opened his set with the Jimmy Reed classic, “Big Boss Man,” a blast from the South Dallas past first heard up and down Deep Ellum. Cean handled the vocals on that number; from there, they swung into “The Sky Is Crying,” and leveled out the take off and landing before the first break through such traditionals as “The Thrill Is Gone” and the white girl lament that crossed over from a Delta blues charter to rock and roll in the summer of 1967, “Ode To Billy Joe.”

Before break time came, the crowd was on its feet, dancing, hollering, acting like a thoroughly conjured audience talking about more - more rhythm, more blues, more brew, more of more and blue on blue en bleu!

Contact CaCean Ballou & The Dirty Crawfish at, or catch her on under the name Cean Ballou for news of upcoming appearances or to talk about special events or occasions. - The Legendary

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