• They're blues songs.
  • They're down home recipes.
  • This music cooks in more ways than one! Elliot Essman's

Blues Cookbook

Elliot's Culinary Reviews
Elliot's Main Food Writing Page
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Music and food have both been among chef Elliot Essman's lifelong interests (actually food came first, but he comes from a family of opera singers, so music wasn't far behind). Elliot has played blues guitar, keyboards and harmonica since he was in his teens. Elliot's Blues Cookbook CD combines both passions. Each of these songs is also a recipe, for a down-home American dish of course.

You can hear excerpts from all 14 songs, and order the CD, from CD Baby.

Full Ordering Options (from Amazon, through Apple iTunes, download through PayPlay, by check, credit card, or other means). Blues Cookbook on Apple iTunes or Blues Cookbook on PayPlay.

You can also currently access five of the fourteen songs on the Blues Cookbook right here in mp3 format. Here's the full menu, in album order. Highlighted songs have mp3 files. Lyrics and song notes.

Chicken Fried Steak   Cook It With Smoke   Gumbo   Cast Iron Pans   Cornbread   Pralines   Sweet Potato Pie   Pan Fried Chicken   Whole Mess of Greens   Biscuit Heaven   Okra   Piggy Food   Rice and Beans   Southern Fried Catfish  
Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are the Blues Cookbook songs recipes?

A: They do not give cup-by-cup measurements, but most of the songs speak about cooking ingredients and techniques. There is also a unique paean to cast iron pans.

Q: Are the Blues Cookbook lyrics available? What about printed recipes?

A: You'll find the lyrics on the Blues Cookbook Song Notes and Lyrics Page. As to recipes, each of these dishes has as many recipes as there are cooks. Go to any major web recipe site and you'll find dozens.

Q: Why do you sing only about food generally associated with the southern United States?

A: It's the blues. I just can't get bluesy singing about wilted field greens over sauteed porcini mushrooms in an aged balsamic vinaigrette.

Q: You often write articles about alcoholic beverages. How come you don't sing about them?

A: Other blues artists have already conducted exhaustive empirical research on this important subject.

Q: Do you have a band? Are there any other players on the Blues Cookbook?

A: I don't have a band at the moment, but I have plans. In addition to the vocals, I play guitars and harmonica on the album and use my electronic keyboard to add piano, organ, choir, brass, strings, as the case may be. I computer-generate most of the bass and drum tracks.

Q: What equipment did you use to record the Blues Cookbook?

A: The guitar is a PRS CE, the Keyboard a Yamaha P-120, Lee Oskar harmonicas, Beyer microphone, Digitech Vocalist Performer, Roland Cube 3.0 amplifier, recorded on Cakewalk Sonar 2.0 on a generic Windows XP computer using a Creative Extigy interface.

Q: Where was Blues Cookbook mastered? Which company produced the CDs for you?

A: Blues Cookbook was mastered at Stepbridge Studios in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The CD edition was produced by Disc Makers of Pennsauken, New Jersey.

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Q: Do you ever get hungry while in the process of creating this music?

A: You bet. Nibbles are an occupational hazard of all food writers.

Q: Do you generally eat the dishes you sing about in the Blues Cookbook?

A: I do eat this kind of food from time to time, but being a bachelor, even though I can cook, I generally exist on frozen turkey burgers and canned tuna fish from Costco.

Q: Do you play any kinds of music other than the blues? What other musical projects have you done?

A: I also play jazz piano, what you could call cocktail piano. I've written Meet Me At The Mall, a musical comedy. See the website for full details.

Q: What kinds of music do you like to listen to?

A: My tastes are extremely broad. I like classical and opera, and ethnic music from all over the globe: India, Mexico, Brazil. But American music is the world's best. Blues is the underpinning, jazz the gem, but I can also groove on good rock, country, bluegrass, Cajun, and the like. I reserve a special place in my heart for the songs of the American musical theater.

Q: Where does your style of lyric-writing come from?

A: Anyone who does what I would call "clever" lyrics owes a debt to the man who put them on the map, W.S. Gilbert (as in Sullivan). I also owe something to songwriting giants like Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, Ira Gershwin and Lorenz Hart. My greatest lyric-writing influence, however, is Ray Davies (from the British rock band The Kinks), who really knows how to wax poetic about the mundane.

Q: Have you done music all your life? How did you get started?

A: I had classical piano training and played French horn in the school band as a kid, but since I was raised by nannies from the south I was exposed to blues, gospel and R&B in the house, and so took to this kind of music. Below are some photos taken long ago of me with various instruments. Enjoy them.

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