Where Y'At Staff/Provided Photo

Tasting notes:Guitar Lightnin’ Lee

00:00 September 21, 2012
By: Kristal Blue

[Where Y'At Staff/Provided Photo]

It's safe to say Lightnin' Lee has a thing for oysters. Raw, fried, broiled, baked… he can eat them any way except off the fl oor; because that's just gross. But the Ninth Ward rhythm and blues native confesses with gilded enthusiasm there is one way of pairing those plump, little aphrodisiacs that gets his heartstrings a pluckin': Oysters and Baked Macaroni.

He likes it. In fact, he loves it. So much so it inspires him. Lightnin' claims the best translation from ear to mouth of this dish most comparable to his incomparable musicianship is at Rocky and Carlo's over on St. Bernard Highway. Ask anybody in Chalmette, they know the place.

"Oysters are always a surprise," he gushes.

"So many fl avors in one bite; crunchy, wet, salty, and sweet, it's got everything we got. The mac and cheese is the perfect side dish to make the plate. Just like we all make the perfect plate."

Of course, when he says "we" he's speaking about his partners in crime, the ubiquitously smooth Thunderband. And though pushing on past 60, "veteran" wouldn't really be the word to describe Lightnin', he's more like a sensei.

With a following of musicians half his age he coalesces this band, and continually proves he isn't some guy just trying to relive his youth. Lightnin' steals the show with his enthusiasm, leaving even their more youthful exuberance in the dust under his fi ngertips. And they admire him for it.

In fact, they eat it up…

Baptized in New Orleans music like his beloved oysters are baptized in the waters of the Mississippi Delta, Lightnin's played with countless local heroes with names that ring like Earl King, Fats Domino, Ernie K-Doe, Little Freddie King, and not to mention scores of rough and tumble kids off the street, bold enough to make smooth noise in his presence.

Because, like good food, Guitar Lightnin' Lee loves to spread the joy around. When asked to recommend a place to eat, he chose Roosevelt's Black Pearl on Ursulines and Claiborne, right next to the bridge.

"Roosevelt is a good friend and he always has great New Orleans Soul food," Lightnin' says. "My favorite is to sit at his bar with some steaming stewed okra, with some sausage fl oating in it. Oh, and some of his nice, cold, potato salad."

And with all this talk about food, he was sure to let me know his all-time favorite: baked macaroni, of course; and mirliton casserole, fried chicken and greens could only sweeten that deal to perfection. A meal so good he'd ride lightning for it.

Sign Up!