Garner in 2013
July 8, 1952 |
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
|Genres||Louisiana blues, swamp blues|
|Musician, singer, songwriter|
|Labels||Several including JSP and Ruf|
One music journalist noted "If you define 'blues' by the rigid categories of structure rather than the flexible language of feeling allusion, Robert Cray... Larry Garner, Joe Louis Walker and James Armstrong are a new and uncategorizable breed, their music blues-like rather than blues, each of them blending ideas and devices from a variety of sources - soul, rock, jazz, gospel - with a sophisication beyond the reach of their forerunners".
Garner grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His first inspiration was the guitar-playing preacher Reverend Utah Smith. Garner made acquaintance with local musicians such as Lonesome Sundown, Silas Hogan, Guitar Kelley and Tabby Thomas. His musical influences include Hogan, Clarence Edwards, Jimi Hendrix, and Henry Gray. He was taught to play guitar by his uncle and two other elders. Garner completed military service in Korea and returned to Baton Rouge, working part-time in music and full-time at a Dow Chemical plant.
Garner won the International Blues Challenge in 1988. His first two albums, Double Dues and Too Blues, were released by the British JSP label. The latter album's title was in reply to a label executive who judged Garner's original demo to be "too blues". Thomas's nightclub, Tabby's Blues Box, provided Garner with a playing base in the 1980s and gave him the subject matter for "No Free Rides", the strongest song on Double Dues.
He recorded the albums You Need to Live a Little (1996), Standing Room Only (1998), Baton Rouge (1999) and Once Upon the Blues (2000). The song "Go to Baton Rouge," from the album Baton Rouge, "offered a tourist's guide to Louisiana music spots.
All eight of Garner's CDs have been released by labels in Europe or Britain: