From the album Homage 1

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Grease In My Gravy

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Written by Doug Macleod with additional lyrics by Reggie Houston.

Reggie Houston - alto sax and vocals
Janice Scroggins - keyboards
Reinhardt Melz - drums
Andre St. James - acoustic upright bass

Along with music, I have two other great loves in my life. Like many New Orleanians, one of my great passions is food (and we'll get to the third a little later on) and I wouldn't dream of making a tribute album without an ode or two to good food! In fact, the cats in Fats' band nicknamed me "Mikey" cause I'd try anything! We'd travel all over the world to these wonderful and exotic cities and Fats be cookin' on a hot plate in his hotel room-- serious! There'd be a knock on your hotel door and one of the cats would poke his head in and say "Fats cookin'!" And everybody would take their plate-- borrowed earlier from the hotel kitchen and kept in our rooms for just such an occasion... cause Fats can cook! But I'd also go out and explore the culinary offerings of the region and order things off the menu when I didn't even know what they were. But "Grease in My Gravy" is a song about the good Creole home cookin' I grew up on in N'Awlins. Although it was written by Doug MacLeod, my version is based on Betty Bryant's interpretation with some of my own Oregon-ized lyrics thrown in! It's an ode to all of my favorite hometown restaurants, chefs and dishes: the crab cakes in that light cream sauce that Chef Roussel (who passed away in 2005) used to make at Brennan's on Royal Street, anything at Snug Harbor by Chefs Elton, Brock and Ferdy-- and Snug has the best burger in the world! And right down the block from Snug is The Praline Connection-- you got to stop there if you're in town. Then there's the red beans and rice and lemon chicken at The Palm Court-- and their chocolate mousse is to live and die for! The oyster casserole at Mosca's out on Highway 90 in Avondale.... And my favorite lunch spot is Willie Mae's Scotch House-- sometimes I'd take my daughter Miriam out of school early just so we could have lunch at Willie Mae's, cause eating Miss Willie Mae's red beans and rice with smothered veal chops is a special enough occasion that it warrants cutting school! Of course Miss Willie Mae has passed on, but that dish is still just as good as when she made it. And although it's not there anymore, the best gumbo in town used to be made by my Uncle Bunchie in my old neighborhood at my cousins' place, Perkins Bar & Restaurant. It was on the Chitlin' Circuit so Lloyd Price, Fats, Tommy Ridgley and all those cats used to eat there. Oh their Wednesday night crab boil was somethin'! Big Joe Williams be playin' those lowdown blues and you'd buy a quart of beer and get 3 crabs free-- of course I wasn't supposed to be hanging out there, but I'd peddle my bike down and they'd wrap some crabs up in newspaper for me and I'd peddle back home before it got too late.... And Piece O'Meat's gourmet Hot Tamales were the best in the world and his Autocrat Social & Pleasure Club Friday Evening Fish Fry was the hottest ticket in town-- he wouldn't start frying until 7pm but folks would show up at 4 and hang around drinking for 3 hours just to get some of his catfish! And you can't go wrong with Mandina's on Canal Street-- any time I'm back home I go there for their Trout Meuniere, and my favorite, their Tuesday special, Stuffed Breast of Chicken with Oyster Dressing, Candied Yams, and String Beans-- and oh they make the best Shrimp Remoulade in town and they have this other appetizer, "crab fingers" they call them, in this buttery wine sauce that you dip your French bread in... yes indeed, Mandina's on Canal Street! And two places you don't want to rush are Commander's Palace and Pascal's Manale. Even before you order your meal at Commander's you want to put in your order for their Creole bread pudding with warm whiskey cream, cause a dessert that good takes time! And you get your bib right when you hit the door at Pascal's Manale, cause you gonna splash that buttery barbecue shrimp! And then there's Hansen's snoball stand on Tchoupitoulas-- oh I miss Hansen's! They been there for something like a hundred years, and they make their own cream sauce. There's another great snoball stand on Panola Street-- those are both uptown. They got lots of snoball stands downtown, but you can keep 'em-- Hansen's and Panola Street, those are my places.