Most of the material Maria Muldaur has recoreded recently can be divided into two categories: songs that sound just like her wistful hit "Midnight at the Oasis" and songs that obviously fashioned after her sassy R&B success, "I'm a Woman."
If Muldaur's approach to recording has become polished and predictable to a fault, you'd never know it from listening to her perform last night at the Bayou. It was refreshing to hear her begin with older material like "Brickyard Blues" and "It Ain't The Meat, It's the Motion," songs which bridge her jug/swing band influences and allow ample room for her sinuous phrasing.
Once she was confortable on stage, Muladur picked up the fiddle for a sing-along on Dolly Parton's "In My Tennessee Mountain Home" and then softly followed Jim Rothermel's sax into a beautiful rendering of "Lover Man" before taking on more recent material.
From one side of the set to the other, Rothermel and lead guitarist John Girton provided Muldaur with a biting edge that simply has't surfaced on her albums of late.
It was slow going for Catfish Hodge, who opened the show with a nice acoustics set. Although he offered an interesting mix of country blues, and R&B, it wasn't until the end of his set, when he let loose with his bug-eyed "Boogieman Boogie," that he finally managed to stir the audience.