Capital Records Press Release
LeRoux takes its name from the Cajun
French term for the thick and hearty gravy base that's used
to make gumbo, a vitamin-laden soup that's actually of Bantu
origin. It's an appropriate moniker for this six-man aggregation
of writers and musicians who call Baton Rouge, Louisiana their
The band's music, transferred to
vinyl with the release of their debut LP on Capitol, Louisiana's
LeRoux (April 1978) is chock full of thick and hearty instrumental
textures that pull from blues, R&B, funk, jazz, rock, and Cajun
roots. Their sound is laced with multi-layered four- and five-part
harmonies served up in a wide range of imaginatively arranged
songs, and seasoned with years of collective experience on the
road and in the studio.
Most members of LeRoux—vocalist/keyboardist
Rod Roddy, vocalist/reed & horn player/percussionist Bobby Campo,
drummer/percussionist David Peters, and leader/bassist/producer
Leon Medica—have for some time been the main in-house rhythm
section at Studio In The Country (SCI) in Bogalusa, Louisiana
(Kansas and Stevie Wonder have worked on projects there). They've
backed scores of artists at the tucked-away facility, including
Clifton Chenier and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, and they've
done extensive session work at studios such as Deep South in
Baton Rouge and Applewood in Golden, Colorado.
Jeff Pollard, LeRoux's chief songwriter,
lead guitarist, and lead vocalist, has put in five years of
session work at SIC and Deep South and before joining up with
Medica and crew, he fronted the Levee Band, an acoustic unit
that built a constituency around the Southern club circuit.
The newest member of LeRoux, vocalist/guitarist Tony Haselden,
has contributed to recent albums by Donna Hold and Benny Spellman
and has done a lot of road work during his 14 years as a professional
The genesis of LeRoux goes back
to Gatemouth Brown's summer 1977 State Department-sponsored
musical goodwill tour of Africa. Gatemouth had approached Medica
before the tour, asking him to put together a backing band for
the excursion. At the same time, Medica, using studio time he'd
accumulated in payment for his production work at SIC, was producing
some demos of original tunes by Pollard, using his players for
the backing tracks. The combination of musicians clicked, so
they dubbed themselves The Jeff Pollard Band and hit the road
to Africa, opening each Gatemouth show with songs of their own
before backing the headliner on his set.
Back in the States, Medica, who'd
previously done some demo work for Screen Gems-EMI Music (song
publishers), took the Pollard demos to Nashville, where Paul
Tannen of Screen Gems-EMI heard them and signed Pollard to a
staff writer's contract. With support from Screen Gems-EMI,
the band returned to the studio to re-record the demos. Because
they had more time to develop the vocal and instrumental arrangements,
the new tapes had much more cohesion, more of a "band" feel
than the original tapes. The decision to team full-time as a
recording and touring unit was quickly made.
As The Jeff Pollard Band, the five
musicians gigged all over the South, packing clubs either with
Gatemouth or on their own during the early part of Fall 1977.
Between dates, Medica flew to Colorado to contribute some bass
parts to the new Dirt Band LP at Bill McEuen's Aspen Recording
Society Studio. Medica just happened to have copies of the newest
Pollard tapes, and after McEuen and Bill Roberts of Aspen Artists'
Management (the same firm which manages the Dirt Band and Steve
Martin) gave them a listen, Roberts assumed the band's management
Tannen, back at Screen Gems-EMI
in Nashville, was likewise impressed with the new tapes and
passed them on to Screen Gems-EMI execs in Hollywood, who flew
the band to Los Angeles for showcases at the Improvisation club
and at Studio Instrument Rentals' Hollywood soundstages. After
a final showcase appearance, opening for Muddy Waters at Hollywood's
famous Roxy, the band signed a long-term recording deal with
Capitol Records, which outbid several major labels.
LeRoux went back to Studio In The
Country last winter, where, following the addition of guitarist
Tony Haselden to share lead and rhythm interplay with Pollard,
the group cut its debut Capitol LP. Pollard wrote 9 of the album's
10 songs (the tenth was penned by Medica and Hoyt Garrick).
The LP showcases tight harmonies, extremely proficient musicianship,
and vast arrangement abilities. "Take a Ride On a Riverboat"
opens with bright a cappella vocals that slide smoothly into
the track's funky rhythm. "Love Abductor" is a great piece of
burning funk sparked by low guitar lines, and "New Orleans Ladies"
is a respectful ballad with a beautiful multi-tracked flute
solo. "Slow Burn," which is kicked off with Medica's bass lines
popping off-beat accents to set up the backbeat rhythm, showcases
the band's instrumental versatility with fierce drums-bass-guitar-piano-trumpet-dual-guitar
soloing. The band's vocals on "Heavenly Days" are slightly gospel-flavored,
and "I Can't Do One More Two-Step" is a jumping tune based on
early Mardi Gras rhythms.
Complementing the sound of Louisiana's
Roux is Medica's creative yet economic production and engineer
Warren Dewey's precision at the recording console. Along with
vocal and instrumental multi-tracking, there's some use of phasing,
echo and other effects, and the various percussive accents are
well-blended in the final mix. Louisiana's LeRoux sounds
vital and alive, a blend of toughness and tenderness that's
purely Southern yet several stages beyond basic 12-bar boogie.
So get ready for your ride on a riverboat—your ticket's inside
the cover (for which photos were taken by Norman Seeff). You
may not be able to out-hustle the dandy Mississippi gamblers
on board, but the musical gumbo served up is (as they say down
in the Quarter) "Magnifique!"