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Tommy McLain is considered a founding father of the Gulf Coast “swamp pop” Genre – a bonafide “Swamp-Poppa”. Known for his stunning voice, in the mid-1960s the Jonesville, Louisiana native found himself racing up the Billboard charts, appearing on Dick Clark’s television shows, and performing all over the US and UK on package tours with everyone from Otis Redding to The Yardbirds. In that moment, his music introduced the rest of the world to the joys as well as the drama that unfolded nightly in the Louisiana dance halls that he called home. Ever since, Tommy McLain’s records have circulated through the hands of music historians, critics, artists and enthusiasts as solid gold touchstones of “swamp pop”.
Soon after his national debut, he returned to working those same clubs six nights a week, mining them for a career of songwriting that has now probed six decades of Gulf South oilfield heartache through his own unique reflections on the human condition. As a songwriter, Tommy’s first successes came from penning #1 hit singles for Freddy Fender on Huey Meaux’s legendary Krazy Kajun label out of Houston, Tx. Ironically, Tommy’s most known records to date have been unique interpretations of songs by other writers – “Sweet Dreams” (Don Gibson) and “Before I Grow Too Old” (Bobby Charles/Fats Domino), both released early in his career. Through the years, Tommy has developed an adoring multi-generational Gulf Coast fanbase, along with attracting a motley amalgam of Brit A-lister acolytes and collaborators, ranging from Robert Plant, Joe Strummer, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and Lily Allen.
Recently, Tommy shared with his protege and producer C.C. Adcock, a new batch of original songs that he has quietly crafted over the last several years. Remarkably, these songs are the most powerful and deeply moving of his repertoire to date. Now Adcock (also Tommy’s bandmate in the South Louisiana supergroup Lil’ Band O’ Gold) has produced the record that will make the world catch up to Tommy McLain once again. The full album label release is scheduled for August of this year. The May 7th hometown Vermillionville show with be in celebration of the first 45rpm vinyl single release and will be a preview of Tommy’s new songs from the record alongside his classic beloved hits.
At 81 years of age, Tommy McLain is possibly the last great artist from the pioneer rock n’ roll generation left to be rediscovered. His many talents and stage charisma remain completely intact and untarnished after a lifetime spent on bandstands back along the bayous of his home. His story unlocks the history of swamp pop and is a mainline into what is unique about Louisiana music and it’s incredible culture. His story is the story of perseverance and the return of music as a saving grace in post lockdown times. Tommy’s immense soul and capacity to convey it live and on record is simply undeniable.
“Texas’ got Willie … But in Louisiana it’s always been Tommy McLain” -Tommy McLain
“Never mind the “Cajun Rod Stewart” – which hugely flatters one of those singers and it ain’t Tommy – he might be the “South Louisiana Solomon”” – Elvis Costello