Mem Shannon is a triple-threat. He summons up the spirit of New Orleans like few others, mainly because his funky grooves are saturated with lessons supremely learned from cats like Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, and the Neville Brothers. His rich, mellow baritone voice is both authoritative and warm, while his guitar work is supremely tasteful and funky to the core. But his ace-in-the-hole is his ability to tell a great story with his own unique philosophical spin. That puts him in a league with such classic blues raconteurs as Lightnin’ Hopkins, Muddy Watters, Bessie Smith, Robert Johnson, and Lighnin’ Slim.
At long last, we have a live performance to savor Live A Night at Tipitina’s and it’s a hot 70-minute set by Mem & the Membership at that legendary nightspot and provides ample evidence why Shannon’s a walkin’ and talkin’ blues master. His trademark soulful Funk is in full display, but the bottom line is this is his most convincing outing since his debut Cab Driver Blues.
Blues was meant to be heard live, so any performer worth his salt will always sounds better doing his thing in front of an audience. Those two facts have never rung more true than on L-ANAT. Backed by a punchy three-man horn section, an evening of pure soulful Funk goes down superbly as groove after delicious groove whets one’s appetite for more and more. The rhythm section of Angelo Nocentelli (bass) and Josh Milligan (drums) display a mastery of funky rhythms that’s second to none. But the captain of this funky spaceship is Mem Shannon and his masterful stewardship is the glue that holds it all together.
"No Religion" is the tour de force of the set, although "Don’t Back Down" is a real close second. Amidst all the funky happenings, one can’t help but notice "All I Have" where a pile of debris left in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation becomes a poignant reminder of a lifetime of memories. Powerful stuff! Live-A Night At Tipitina’s is packed with excitement and gets my wholehearted recommendation