Lucky Dog is the first for Montrose Records from Brad Absher, the Houston-based singer/guitarist & practitioner of the “Gulf Coast Blues & Soul” sound. The album was recorded at Montrose Records Studio in Houston and produced by label head Richard Cagle and acclaimed bassist Larry Fulcher (Taj Mahal), who also adds his trademark bass lines throughout the disc. The rest of the musicians involved in the recording are primarily members of Absher’s solid touring band, rightly dubbed “Swamp Royale” for the earthy, soulful sounds they create around Brad’s masterful guitar work and vocals.
Brad Absher’s Gulf Coast sound recipe includes equal amounts of blues, soul, and gospel, stirred up just right into a magical gumbo that goes down easy and has a spicy kick to it, recalling the best of Memphis and Muscle Shoals, too. The dozen songs on Lucky Dog include a healthy dose of Absher originals that showcase his songwriting prowess in the blues/R&B/gospel field, as well as several outstanding covers of songs by William Bell (“You Don’t Miss Your Water”), Leon Russell (“I’d Rather Be Blind”), Allan Toussaint (“Lipstick Traces”), the traditional gospel tune, “Jesus on the Main Line,” and Bill Withers (“Same Love”). Interestingly, Brad’s warm vocals recall the great Bill Withers in timbre and grit throughout the entire CD. And his guitar work stands out all over Lucky Dog with some greasy lines, strident fills and tangy solos that drip with soul/blues power.
Brad Absher and Swamp Royale have been a fixture throughout the Gulf Coast area for the better part of the past 20 years, becoming a Top Ten Finalist at the 2014 International Blues Challenge in Memphis that featured competition for all over the world. Other accolades they’ve won during that time period also include Best Local Album, Best Male Vocals and Best Blues Band in various music polls.
Based in Houston, Brad Absher was raised in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and his unique sound reflects the area’s “swamp pop” influence he first heard listening to South Louisiana radio stations. After moving to Tulsa in the late ‘70s, a young Brad Absher came under the tutelage of several players, most-notably guitarist Tommy Tripplehorn of Gary Lewis and the Playboys fame. Brad soon added slide guitar to his repertoire after seeing the great Ry Cooder perform live.
Absher’s musical expertise has been recognized throughout his career, and was referred to frequently during his time in Tulsa as a “guitar god.” In 2013, he competed and was selected as Houston’s International Blues Challenge regional winner and later performed during the competition that year in Memphis.