By Ron Wynn

NASHVILLE, TN — The powerhouse sounds of Louisiana-infused rock, plus aspects of R&B, jam band fare and blues, make “Creole Skies,” the newest release from the band Johnny & The Mongrels, a delight. It predominantly features the energetic lead vocals of Johnny Ryan, who either singly or co-wrote seven of the disc’s 10 selections. The others include a fine cover of Tony Joe White’s “Saturday Night in Oak Grove Louisiana,” plus bassist Jeff Bostic’s “Hard Way,” and keyboardist Bill McKay’s “Just Keep Walking.”

There’s a prominent blues feel in such tunes as “True Life,” the title selection and “Hard Way.” But there’s also plenty of Crescent City R&B and rock flavor throughout other numbers like the opener “Louisiana Girl” and “Music Man.” The band’s been together since 2015, with the current lineup featuring guitarist Scott Sharrard joining drummer/percussionist Eddie Christmas, Bostic and McKay. There’s also an intriguing mix of music veterans from other groups. Bostic and Ryan co-formed the band in Colorado.

McKay is the former keyboardist for Leftover Salmon and the Derek Trucks Band. Sharrard formerly was Gregg Allman’s guitarist and bandleader until Allman’s death. He’s now also filling the guitar/vocal role in Little Feat, replacing Paul Barrere, who died last fall. Another formidable addition to the musical arsenal is pedal steel guitarist Marty Rifkin (Tom Petty, Ryan Adams), who plays on three of “Creole Skies’s” tracks.

There are other numbers augmented by stirring musical contributions from special guests. Craig Dreyer adds strong sax support to “Louisiana Girl,” and Roddie Romero brings nice squeeze box accompaniment to “Music Man.” Bassists Charlie Wooton and Lee Allen enhance “Shallow Grave” and “Mama Said,” while a corps of background vocalists that includes Erica Brown, Erin Callihan and Penny Lane provide consistently exuberant assistance. While it’s Ryan’s adroit vocals that mainly set the stage and tone for the disc’s success, Romero and McKayalso  bring some singing luster to “True Life” and “Just Keep Walking” respectively, while Bostic chimes in vocally on other occasions.

“Creole Skies” offers a great excursion into Louisiana music, while nicely incorporating elements from other genres. The result is a highly enjoyable, very entertaining and delightful listening experience.