Hugh Laurie, the popular and acclaimed star of television’s “House” will readily admit he doesn’t have the typical pedigree and background of most Blues musicians, but he’s not about to let that get in his way.
“I was not born in Alabama in the 1890s,” Laurie states. “You may as well know this now. I’ve never eaten grits, cropped a share, or ridden a boxcar. No gypsy woman said anything to my mother when I was born and there’s no hellhound on my trail, as far as I can judge. Let this record show that I am a white, middle-class Englishman, openly trespassing on the music and myth of the American south.”
The result of Laurie’s “trespassing” is “Let Them Talk,” his album of New Orleans style Blues. Laurie drives the album on vocals and piano, and draws upon deeply traditional Southern tracks. The album, which was recorded in Los Angeles and New Orleans, features some of the Big Easy’s most renowned and celebrated musicians and singers including the “Queen of New Orleans” Irma Thomas; blues piano and horns supremo Allen Toussaint; vocal legend Sir Tom Jones; and a collaboration on “After You’ve Gone” with Laurie’s lifelong hero Dr. John.
Laurie was classically trained on the piano, but says it was the Blues that captured his musical soul at a young age.
“One day a song came on the radio – I’m pretty sure it was ‘I Can’t Quit You Baby’ by Willie Dixon – and my whole life changed,” Laurie states on his liner notes. “A wormhole opened between the minor and major third, and I stepped through into Wonderland. Since then, the blues have made me laugh, weep, dance… well, this is a family record, and I can’t tell you all the things the blues can make me do.”
Laurie will be performing his album live at the Turlock Community Theatre at 7:30 p.m. May 26. Tickets are $35, $47 and $57 and can be purchased by visiting www.turlocktheatre.org or calling 668-1169.