Here Today Gone Tomorrow
After an eight year absence from the recording
studio, Larry Garner has released Here Today Gone
Tomorrow on DixieFrog Records, a European label. For
those of us who treasure Garner’s unique perspective
of the blues, it’s been too long between discs, in
part due to his recovery from heart surgery a couple
of years ago. Thankfully, there’s plenty to enjoy
on his latest effort.
Garner’s music has always been rooted in the swamp
blues of Louisiana. Artists like Silas Hogan,
“Guitar” Kelley, and Rudy Richard (former guitarist
for Slim Harpo) were big influences on his musical
approach, while songwriters like Curtis Mayfield and
Bob Dylan influenced his lyrics. As a result, his
blues take a look back with their musical approach,
but the lyrical content is definitely set in the
here and now, covering topics that are very familiar
to the average Joe. Most of his songs will invoke a
knowing nod from listeners who have “been there,
done that,” which adds to his appeal.
Here Today Gone Tomorrow’s highlights include “Bull
Rider,” a tune about a member of one of Garner’s
audiences that proves you can’t judge a book by its
cover, the perceptive title track, a tune made more
meaningful given Garner’s recent brush with
mortality, and “Heavy Pieces,” an anthem of sorts
for folks picking up the pieces of their life, with
Garner encouraging them to “leave the heavy ones
alone” when putting their lives back together.
There’s also “For You Mr. King,” a tribute to B. B.
King, and a redo of “Keep Singing The Blues,” which
features an amazing, sometimes hilarious monologue
describing Garner’s tense encounter with a young
music lover that will surely have blues fans smiling
and nodding in agreement, while “Raised In The
Country” will have them exuberantly singing along.
The lone cover on the disc is Muddy Waters’
“Champagne and Reefer,” but there’s also a video
program (playable on computer) of Garner and band
playing the Henry Gray classic, “Cold Chills,” from a
2003 gig in Paris.
In a bit of a variation from previous Larry Garner
releases, there are a few guest stars present on
Here Today Gone Tomorrow. The guests are either
based in the Baton Rouge area (guitarists Rudy
Richard, Elvin Killerbee, and Jared Daigle,
harmonica player Oscar “Harpo” Davis) or have roots
there (piano man Henry Gray and Buckwheat Zydeco).
In many cases, guest stars on albums end up
dominating the proceedings. In this case, the guests
are as familiar with Larry Garner’s style as Garner
himself, so they complement him rather than
It’s been too long since we were blessed with a new
Larry Garner release. Still, it’s only a partial
blessing, as the disc has been harder to find
stateside than a leftover cheeseburger in Charles
Barkley’s kitchen. It’s a shame because, clearly,
Here Today Gone Tomorrow ranks with his best
releases and it deserves to be heard. Seek this one
out at all costs.
--- Graham Clarke