The members of Southern Comfort are self-described Dixieland bandits. For more than seven years they've been performing at Shakey's Pizza in Rockville, where they somehow have managed to keep the menu from popping the buttons off their vests.
But restraint and endurance aren't the only things that separate this septet from the usual parade of straw-hatted musicians. Consider, for example, the band's imaginative -- or, as they maintain, irreverent -- repertoire: Horace Silver's "The Preacher," Hoagy Carmichael's "Georgia on My Mind" and Jesse Fuller's "San Francisco Bay Blues" happily coexist with such familiar Dixieland flagwavers as "South Rampart Street Parade" and "That's a'Plenty."
What makes "Southern Comfort Plays for Our Kind of People" such an utterly appealing album -- that is, apart from its refreshingly broad focus -- is the upbeat yet nonchalant ensemble playing, which bubbles with the good-timey spirit of Dixieland jazz. None of this would seem quite so special were it not for clarinetist John Skillman's fluid phrasing and his relaxed, unmannered vocals. The band's infectious polyphony benefits from the sheer naturalness of his tone and timing.
Not for purists (nor strictly for pizza lovers), Southern Comfort plays music the way they like to hear it -- and on this album it shows. ON RECORD, ON STAGE THE ALBUM SOUTHERN COMFORT -- Southern Comfort Plays for Our Kind of People (Roseland Records S-001). THE SHOW SOUTHERN COMFORT, Fridays at Shakey's Pizza in Rockville.