Out On: Smiling Crocodile
File Under: Classic Rhythm & Blues
Sounds Like: The Blues Brothers, Louis Jordan, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
Location: Sydney & Blue Mts
LAUNCH DATE – MAY 17 PETERHSAM BOWLO
LEROY SUAVE(a.k.a. Brian ‘The Vicar’ Wakefield): vocals, guitar. “Leroy’s larynx should be preserved by the National Trust” – Daily Telegraph 1982. “Crooner who Walks, Boogie Beast that Cannot Die” – RAM Magazine 1986.
Best known as bandleader of Leroy’s Layabouts lets us in on some inside info….
Tell us a little about your music and what a crowd can expect at a live show ?-
“The music is eclectic but centres on good-time sax-based rhythm & blues from the mid 1940s to early 1960s – spiced up with jazz/rock sensibilities and humour. Lots of room for spontaneity. Expect fun: clapping, cheering, good-natured heckling, dancing, a few intent enthusiasts watching guitar players’ fingers, lots of gorgeous women. (Okay, the last-mentioned was wishful thinking, but not entirely untrue.)”
What inspired you to become a singer/writer/band? and who are your early influences.?
The mid 1960s “British Invasion” R&B groups in interviews spoke of their American idols so I went in search of their records, digging further till I found more old blues artists who turned me on. Like many young white fans, I foolishly sort of wanted to be black. One of the hardest things for a white male (especially if non-American) is to sound natural singing the blues – most try too hard and it shows – but after a lifetime of absorbing the essence it just comes of its own accord without having to think. There’s a beaut anecdote about Dave Van Ronk finishing his set with a searingly intense rendition of “Hoochie Coochie Man”, to thunderous applause. As he came offstage, Muddy Waters, who was headlining, said “That was great, but did you know it’s supposed to be a funny song?”
And the influences….
“Little Richard’s line of dirty, dirty saxes and the absolutely filthy sound of the solos, Leadbelly, early Rolling Stones, Shel Silverstein, Chuck Berry, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Muddy Waters, Fats Waller, Fats Domino, Louis Jordan, Harry Belafonte, Elvis, Albert King, the Fugs, Jimmy Witherspoon, Jimmy Liggins, Carl Perkins, Big Joe Turner, Wynonie Harris, Professor Longhair, Cab Calloway, Jimmy Rushing, Python Lee Jackson, Max Merritt, Captain Matchbox….”
Favourite artists of all time?
“Ray Charles, Lord Melody, Dizzy Gillespie, Howlin’ Wolf, Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Tom Waits, Frank Zappa, Sam Cooke, Wynona Carr, Percy Mayfield, BB King, Albert Collins, Coasters, Drifters, Beatles, Basie, King Radio, Ella Fitzgerald, Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong, Tom Lehrer, Gatemouth Brown, La Vern Baker, Mills Bros, Ry Cooder, Miriam Makeba, Neville Bros”