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VALLEY WEEKEND | ROCKTALK

Late-Blooming Guitarist Devotes Full-Time to Playing Blues

Louisiana Guitar Red, 67, quit his L.A. foundry job in '82 and has pursued a musical career ever since.

May 02, 1996|JAMES E. FOWLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

As his name suggests, Louisiana Guitar Red, who's playing at B.B. King's tonight, originally comes from Monroe, La.

And though one might think he has played guitar from the time he could walk, that's not the case. Red first started gigging as a piano player here in Los Angeles in the 1950s. It wasn't until the mid-'60s that he started playing a Silvertone guitar from Sears that his wife bought for him.

For many years after that, Louisiana Guitar Red worked in house bands in South Los Angeles clubs by night and had a job in a steel foundry during the day.

"I did all kinds of work," Red said. "There was not enough money in music in those days to make a living. Sometimes I worked four nights and five days a week."

Red, 67, retired from his job at the foundry in 1982, but his music career continues. He now has three CDs available.

"I play Delta blues, I play a little jazz and some disco and rock," he said. "I used to back up lots of people--Little Richard, Johnny Otis, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, T-Bone Walker--all those cats had different types of music going. It gets a little different feel in how you play."

* Louisiana Guitar Red plays tonight at B. B. King's Blues Club at Universal CityWalk, 1000 Universal Center Drive. $6 cover. Call (818) 622-5464.

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Untraditional Blues: Kent Earl Housman doesn't know how he ended up sounding like a redneck.

The people he listened to while growing up in Northern California--Procol Harem, Jeff Beck, the Rolling Stones--don't sound like that. But when it came time to record his first solo album, "Wham Bam Man," that's how it came out.

"It's just the style I did the most," said Housman, who's playing at Smokin' Johnnie's tonight. "I know if I really dig it, I figure other people will too.

"It's not traditional blues," admits the singer-songwriter-guitarist, who formerly played with Blue Cheer. "But it sounds Southern so I call it 'redneck blues.' "

"Wham Bam Man" was released last year and has received some airplay in the southeast United States and in Germany. The album was produced by Tom Petty's drummer, Stanley Lynch II, and Housman. Lynch co-wrote some of the tunes and plays on the tracks along with Housman and bassist Banner Thomas, formerly of Molly Hatchet.

"Radio digs it and people buy it at gigs," said the fortysomething Housman. "With a couple of billion people turning 50 every seven seconds, my demographics are coming around."

And besides, he says, "I've been doing this so long, it's too late to be trained for anything else."

The album was recorded at a small studio in Crescent Beach, Fla. Housman is preparing to record his second album--with a working title of "Taint"--and he plans to go back there.

"I like the environment better, the pace is more relaxed," Housman said. "The studio is really comfortable, it looks like something from the '50s and the rates are good."

* Kent Earl Houseman performs tonight at Smokin' Johnnie's, 11720 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. No cover. Call (818) 760-6631.

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Yer Birthday: Gina Barsamian, the booker at Bourbon Square, has a birthday this Saturday so she's booking a birthday bash for herself that will feature 15 of her favorite bands. And she's inviting everyone.

Barsamian, who booked bands at the Troubadour in West Hollywood for several years before coming to Bourbon Square, said all the bands have agreed to use the same equipment so that the audience won't have to sit through each band setting up and breaking down between sets.

Acts scheduled include Stiff Upper Lip, Debbie Holiday, Tod Richards, Brain Stem Babies and others.

* Gina's Birthday Bash on Saturday night at Bourbon Square, 15324 Victory Blvd., Van Nuys. $6 cover. Call (818) 997-8562.

Short Takes:

* Yowzah, who runs the Club Dump shows at the Blue Saloon in North Hollywood on Saturday nights, is taking a break for the summer. His last show will be May 18. But this week at the saloon of blue, Eeenie Meanie, the Oo-Spies, D/Railed, the Places and Seventh World will play.

* Finn Mac Cool, who blend their acoustic Irish folk music roots with the performance edge of rock 'n' roll, will play Friday at Ireland's 32 in Van Nuys.

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