Review: 7 Walkers
7 Walkers (Response)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Nov. 26, 2010
An "open love letter" to Louisiana and New Orleans, 7 Walkers' debut is funky, spooky, jazzy. What began as a late-night jam session between local blues shaman Malcolm "Papa Mali" Welbourne and Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann blossomed into a supergroup with Meters' bassist George Porter Jr. and Austin multi-instrumentalist Matt Hubbard. Add Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, and you've just been served a bewitching brew. Even Willie Nelson shows up to sing and play on "King Cotton Blues." Still, 7 Walkers is all voodoo, with stretches where Dr. John's trademark gris-gris is piled high, particularly when the mystical, tinkling "Chingo!" segues into the macabre blues "Louisiana Rain." Despite all the Grateful Dead connections or perhaps because of them, there's a looseness about the proceedings, although 7 Walkers never comes across as anything less than a working band. Kreutzmann's percussion is never prominent but always integral – one could even point to Hubbard as the linchpin. His keyboard work, harmonica, and trombone makes each tune distinct. The song that gives the band its name is perhaps the quartet's finest moment, a second-line groove sure to rattle some bones and a melody to raise spirits.