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Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington, Recent Orleans Musical Luminary, Dies at 79


In 1986, Mr. Washington formed the Roadmasters and released his first nationally distributed album, “Wolf Tracks,” on the Rounder label. Jon Cleary, the Roadmasters’ first keyboardist, wrote on Facebook that with Mr. Washington’s band, “A latest musical vocabulary opened up for me” that was “an unusual hybrid of soul, funk and jazz.”

Mr. Washington’s sets drew on his own songs and on a deep repertoire of current and vintage R&B and standards. Considered one of his hottest songs was his funky remake of Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “You Can Stay however the Noise Must Go.”

Through the following three a long time of constant touring, Mr. Washington recorded with the Roadmasters for labels including Rounder, Bullseye Blues, Virgin/Point Blank, Zoho and Anti-. His 1999 album, “Blue Moon Risin’,” featured horn players who had worked with James Brown.

Mr. Washington married Michelle Bushey in 2021, onstage on the Recent Orleans club Tipitina’s. She survives him. His survivors also include his oldest daughter, Sada Washington, whom his 1991 album, “Sada,” was named after; one other daughter, Mamadou Washington; and his son, Brian Anderson.

In 2018, a decade after his last studio album, Mr. Washington made a stripped-down, more intimate album, “My Future Is My Past,” produced by Ben Ellman of the Recent Orleans band Galactic, on which he put aside the horn section and sometimes switched from electric to acoustic guitar. One song, “Even Now,” was a duet with Irma Thomas, with whom Mr. Washington had worked 4 a long time earlier. Mr. Washington had recently accomplished one other studio album with Mr. Ellman as producer; it’s awaiting a label deal for release.

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