Mississippi may have birthed juke joints and the blues, but East Texas lays claim to boogie woogie: a musical form created in piney woods railroad and lumber camps of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Musicologist John Tennison describes the 360-mile stretch of US 59 between El Campo and Texarkana as the ‘Boogie Woogie Highway,’ and the sound certainly did travel; today, the hard-driving music is performed and enjoyed around the world.
Henri Herbert, an extraordinary musician who specializes in boogie woogie, will be playing one of my favorite Texas venues this fall: not locally, but close enough that a visit with friends and an evening of boogie already is being planned. Born in France and raised in England, Herbert calls Austin home for now, but he can show up anywhere, including public pianos at St. Pancras and King’s Cross stations in London.
Jon Aizlewood of the London Evening Standard once described Herbert as being “like Jools Holland possessed by Jerry Lee Lewis and the Devil himself.” Here’s a taste of what he offers, and what I’m looking forward to experiencing in person.