Big Al & The Heavyweights The Slippery Noodle Inn Thursday, Oct. 17 Big Al & The Heavyweights are a band where you can actually hear all of their music influences in their albums and live acts. Like a Louisiana gumbo, Big Al mixes blues, R&B, zydeco and rock and will be serving the music up hot and fresh at The Slippery Noodle Inn (372 S. Meridian St.) on Oct. 17.
Big Al Lauro first played the trumpet during his grammar school years. By the time junior high rolled around, his friends were dropping school band instruments for guitars. Al had an Uncle Angelo who played the drums, and he started hanging out with him. "He would go play wedding receptions and house parties with his band," Lauro recalls. "One night, I was with my uncle at a wedding reception and he had a few too many and it got to be time to play. When we found him, he was in the car passed out drunk. I wound up filling in. I couldn"t really reach the drums, so we got some Coke crates and stacked them up. That was how I played live for the first time." His grandfather was a Gene Krupa fan, but he listened to soul blues men like Little Milton and Joe Tex, plus local favorites Professor Longhair and Fats Domino. He also heard the birth of zydeco, which many people confuse with Cajun. "We would go visit my great grandma and grandma and they were listening to French music," Lauro remembers. "It wasn"t called zydeco then because it was strictly accordion, fiddle, guitar and maybe a triangle. There were no African elements to it. I was very moved by that music because the language was so beautiful. When they started adding drums to the music along with electric guitar, bass guitar and miking the accordion, you got zydeco. That really got me going." At the same time, the electric Chicago blues of Muddy Waters and Howlin" Wolf started to be heard in the South. Then there were the influences of the electric blues in rock: "I saw Muddy at an auditorium and I couldn"t believe how incredible he was. After that, I started getting into the Allman Brothers because they were playing Muddy"s tunes and rocking it out even more. They had two drummers and Duane Allman on slide. I was in hog heaven." His first band during college was called Silverado. They played everything from Van Morrison to The Grateful Dead to Merle Haggard. His big break came in 1980 when he played drums for David Allen Coe. Also in the band at the time was some guitarist named Warren Haynes. "David taught me to do what I do now," says Lauro. "He sustained a career without virtually any radio play. The live shows are what sold him. David would truly give me goosebumps the way he could move an audience. We called him Father because we were so devoted to him. I was also lucky enough to perform with him on the Grand Ol" Opry and get booed. We also did Austin City Limits," he said. When Coe wasn"t on tour, Al and Haynes grabbed whatever players they could find and played as The Unknown Blues Band. Big Al finally went solo and formed his Heavyweights in 1992. In the last decade, they"ve recorded four albums (That Ain"t Nice, Hey! Hey! Mardi Gras, Live Crawfish and the band"s latest Late Night Gumbo Party), all of which reflect Lauro"s musical mix. "I never just wanted to play one type of music or get labeled as "they play this certain type of music." I wanted to incorporate all the music I loved so much into a certain style, hence you get gumbo music." If for some reason the calendar is booked for Oct. 17, Big Al & The Heavyweights will be playing at Catfish Blues Cafe (916 E. Main St., Greenwood) on New Year"s Eve. Upcoming blues shows Besides the Big Al & The Heavyweights show on Oct. 17, the Slippery Noodle will also feature performances by Rev. Raven & The Chain Smokin Alter Boys/Down Betty Blues (Oct. 18-19), Shoot the Driver (Oct. 20), the Texas duo Smokin" Joe Kubek with B"Nois King (Oct. 21), Gordon Bonham (Oct. 22). Bonham also hosts the blues jam on Oct. 23. Don"t miss West Coast harp man R.J. Mischo (Oct. 28) and Anson Funderburgh with Sam Myers (Oct. 29). Catfish Blues Cafe will spend the weekend with Dwight Edwards (Oct. 18) and the Blues Cats (Oct. 19) while J.B. Deville will host the Tuesday night jam on Oct. 22. He will also be at the Tenth Street Pub (10056 E. 10th. St.) on Oct. 19. Gene Deer will be at Zanies Too (5914 E. 10th. St.) while Black Voodoo will be at The Silver Bullet (410 Main St., Beech Grove) on Oct. 20. Daddy Jack"s (9419 N. Meridian) will have the music of Soulbus on Oct. 21 and Duke Tumatoe on Oct. 22. Don"t forget the Thursday night blues jams on Oct. 17. Gordon Bonham hosts the acoustic stage at The Loading Dock (1045 N. Senate Ave.), Governor Davis holds court at That Place In Greenwood (1265 N. Madison, Greenwood) and there"s Chubby"s Club LaSalle (3219 E. Michigan St.). Congratulations to Mike Milligan & Steam Shovel for winning the Best Unsigned Blues Band Contest last month. They will represent Indiana at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in January. A Moment of Silence: Chicago blues photographer Raeburn Flerlage died on Sept. 28. Flerlage was known for photographing the Chicago blues and soul scene in the 1960s and early "70s. His pictures of Muddy Waters, Howlin" Wolf, B.B. King and a young Buddy Guy have graced numerous album covers and T-shirts. Even if you don"t know the name, you"re bound to have seen his work.