Hotel Bravo



Hotel Bravo



©2003 Sepia Prod - All rights reserved.

Hotel Bravo


“Hotel Bravo” is Napoleon Washington’s debut album. Featuring 14 original songs of acoustic blues, it has been entirely recorded under a traffic bridge next to a freight trains yard.

  1. Same Steel Napoleon Washington 3:25
  2. Dance On My Grave Napoleon Washington 4:30
  3. A Hundred Days Napoleon Washington 5:16
  4. Green Missing Napoleon Washington 3:15
  5. River Of Tears Napoleon Washington 4:39
  6. Got Yesterday Behind Napoleon Washington 3:46
  7. Keep My Baby Satisfied Napoleon Washington 2:55
  8. Water Me Napoleon Washington 2:52
  9. Sweet Smile Of The Crocodile Napoleon Washington 3:04
  10. That I Know Napoleon Washington 4:43
  11. Left & Right Napoleon Washington 3:16
  12. Greyhound Meatballs Napoleon Washington 3:14
  13. Other Side Of The World Napoleon Washington 3:50
  14. Last Romance Napoleon Washington 4:00


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Executive production & financial supervision :

Eric”Prod” Laesser for Sepia Productions

Produced by Napoleon Washington

Recording & mix engineer : Fabian Schild

2nd engineer : Daniel Laurent for Bagdad Audio / Le Mobil

Mobile unit manager : Mary Brugger for Bagdad Audio / Le Mobil

On location facilities & Grip : Cédric Pipoz for Ag’Art


La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, under Le Grand Pont traffic bridge, yes Ma’am

Recording unit : Le Mobil / Bagdad Audio

MIxed at Bagdad Studios by Fabian Schild & Napoleon Washington,

Mix consulting & genuine mood brightening : Marc O Jeanrenaud

Mastered at Greenwood Studios by Glenn Miller

Graphics : Fourmi Rouge Tinkering Co.

Napoleon Washington plays on FINE RESOPHONIC guitars / NEWTONE strings.

Marc O. Jeanrenaud plays on BOSPHORUS cymbals.

It was in the Summer


The summer of year 2000, to be more accurate. I was rehearsing in a small studio, with a window smaller that this sheet of paper. It was damn hot. I packed my guitar and went for some other place. Needed air. Where at? All the waste ground I know feels too grim. Parks: too many people. The countryside: too far. The freight trains lot: too cliché. Oh, think twice now: clichés don’t come from nothing. Just be careful to take only the best of it. Let’s try that.

«I found myself an old carriage, forgotten on a siding. I eventually spent my days there, sitting on the step from sunup to sundown for two months. Many songs got written there, as they mostly just came to me. I watched the evening sun, heard automobiles on the traffic bridge above the railroad, I saw planes fly their way to the airport as dogs and clouds and ideas and time would be passing by. One evening as I left, I happened to wonder what these songs would sound like outside of their scenery. »
« Well, we may never know about that. I went to see my agent and told him that if we were to record this Napoleon Washington’s debut album, We’d for sure have to record the music and the stories, but also the air and the time. That we weren’t to record no nothing in Clarksdale, Mississippi, ‘cause I ain’t from Clarksdale, Mississippi in the first place. That I ain’t learned this job in the 20s of the late 20th century, and that I couldn’t see how Blues, which stands for me as one of the most honest and direct types of music, could cope with anything but its own sincerity. And let’s not make it a big deal cause it ain’t no star natal genius arty vision of anything. It’s just music. My music. »
« Boom. Now did anybody call for paramedics or ask if I had hopelessly lost my mind this time? Nope. We went through some location trial sessions. We realized that it sounded like a record you’d play at the fifteenth floor of a building downtown, with one window slightly open: you don’t pay attention to it, but it’s set in a background.
You know, I think recording music can be very different from a given situation to another. Say for instance you tape a live show: you capture a moment, you sort of «immortalize» one tiny bit of time, but the conditions you have to work with are those of a live gig. Now take a studio album: you get far more control on the performance, you get all the experimentation, but these notions of «time» and «location» often end up sterilized. On that particular project, we thought it would be great to have both the live and the lab, the crude gesture and the fine arts refinement.
So we looked for the best spot on that freight trains lot. We ended up under the roadbridge, with a good enough isolation from the traffic noises, with nice acoustics between the unparallel arch and ground. That’s it! And if the album’s title is «Hotel Bravo», it’s got to do with serving for a little while as a shelter for a music which, in eighty years of history, has known more of cold grounds than palace suites. And which is only passing there.
Oh, I almost forgot: you see, in aviation radio traffic, it is pretty vital that conversations can’t be misunderstood. One particular rule then requires letters to be announced through a code of words, simple and clear enough in any language. For example, «Hotel» stands for H and «Bravo» for B. Now guess what? Every plane registered in Switzerland is given a code of which the first two letters are H and B, namely Hotel Bravo. And being «registered» is the minimum requirement to be allowed to move anywhere. Ain’t it?»

A little history


I met Napoleon Washington fifteen years ago. Long before his name got to Napoleon Washington. Long before Sepia Productions ever existed.


We’ve been lucky to work together for seven years now: six for the Crawlin’ Kingsnake Blues Band (an average of one hundred gigs a year and one album in 98, «Stomp My Feet») as well as 5 tours with late great Rock Bottom (Tampa Bay’s Blues harp godfather).

Then on the launch of his present acoustic project. In november 2000, Sepia decided to put up a modest recording session, in order to cut a 5 tracks promotional CD of Napoleon Washington’s work.


Everything got packed in half a day for a very low budget. Surprisingly, several local US radio stations (WMNF, WFDU, WFCF etc.)


We gave it some airplay and the disc, even though originally not for sale, eventually got a little success among the american Blues audience.


After giving it a listen, Bruce Iglauer – the boss at Alligator records, one of the most important Chicago indie labels – wrote this:

«This is a very good piece of music that shows a lot of understanding of the Delta Blues tradition and a deep feeling for the true sounds. He plays and sings as well as many Americans who do this style, and better than most.

All in all, I considered this quite an outstanding recording»


Bruce Iglauer
Alligator records

Unfortunately, M. Iglauer regretted not to be able to open the US market to an artist not only european, but also white. In Europe i.e., Ruf Records was also sorry to renounce a collaboration, despite the obvious quality of the product.


In short, access to the market through established major labels comes up against two main difficulties: Napoleon Washington is european, white and lacks reputation.



There is of course no way to skip the first obstacle. Nevertheless, today’s means of communication – from the web to more and more inexpensive transportation – tend to loosen the relation between one’s passport’s color and his true membership of a «cultural community».


It is for us then, in the particular matter of an initial public recognition, to gather what seems to be the «paid-in capital» record labels demand. In short, to make Napoleon Washington exist.
Hotel Bravo is our proposition for take-off.


Eric Lasser
Sepia Productions