A sad loss to American music earlier this year was J.J. Cale, the famously laid-back Oklahoman, whose style drew on blues, country, rock and jazz. His sound defied categorisation until somebody came up with "Americana" as a catch-all for artists playing roots music, but without allegiance to any particular genre. Tony Joe White is in many ways Cale's Louisiana counterpart, and from the same generation: White is 70, Cale was 74. A preference for tasteful understatement in their singing and guitar playing links the two men, as does their unpretentious songwriting. Both musicians also achieved greater recognition through covers of their songs than their own recordings. Cale's biggest hits were After Midnight and Cocaine (both covered by Eric Clapton), and Call Me the Breeze , of which the best known cover version is by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Cale didn't like to work too hard, but White has been more productive. Elvis Presley's 1969 cover of Polk Salad Annie made his name, and Brook Benton's version of Rainy Night in Georgia was a Billboard top-10 hit in 1970. Of the many covers of that song, those by Ray Charles and Randy Crawford are arguably the best. White also wrote Tina Turner's 1989 hit Steamy Windows . White's last serious studio album was 2006's Uncovered , with appearances from Cale and Clapton, along with Mark Knopfler and Michael McDonald. His latest release, Hoodoo , is a lower-key affair with no guest stars, and sparse instrumentation highlighting his guitar, vocals and harmonica - as the title implies very much the Louisiana "swamp" sound for which he is best known. The songs were mostly cut live, with White singing and playing with the rest of the band. "There's some actual magic that came over all of us when we were doing this," says White. "I would sit down with my drummer Cadillac [Bryan Owings] and my bass player the Troll [Steve Forrest], play 20 seconds of the tune, and then say 'We're gonna hit 'record', and you just play what comes into your heart. It's like everyone is getting the hoodoo sensation. Spontaneity is beautiful." Comprising nine original songs, the album is vintage White, proud of his deep roots in the musical culture of the southern US but with a distinctly contemporary slant on that heritage. Meanwhile, one of the two gigs of the week here offers a local take on some of that same heritage: Mississippi Delta blues. On Saturday at 8pm at Grappa's Cellar, harmonica player and singer Henry Chung and guitarist Eugene Pao, now a well-established double act, are presenting an evening of Mississippi Delta blues with singer Sybil Thomas, bassist Scott Dodd, guitarist Tony Lee, and drummer Nicholas McBride. "It was Eugene's idea," Chung says. "After we had played six or seven electric blues gigs, he said he wanted to go back to the roots. Get a singer. Get an older guitar player like Tony Lee. No piano. Upright bass. And play an unplugged set. I thought it was a great idea and came up with the line-up. Originally we didn't want a drummer at all. But since Nick McBride will be in town we thought some of the songs would sound cool with brushes. So we went with Nick." Following on from Herbie Hancock's show at the AC Hall last week, Clarence Chang's Jazz World Live Series returns to Youth Square Y-Theatre in Chai Wan, with Norwegian singer Inger Marie Gundersen appearing in an unusual trio configuration, without bass and drums, with Park Youn-woo (guitar) and Per Willy Aaserud (trumpet). Take Three Three more bluesy roots music albums to check out from this week's featured artists. Continued (1969, Monument Records): almost half of White's 1968 debut album, Black and White , comprised well-known cover tunes, but after Presley had a hit with Polk Salad Annie he was given his head as a songwriter on the second. Rainy Night in Georgia gets its first recorded airing here. Shades (1981, MCA): late-night blues meets country funk on this Cale album with an extraordinary cast of session players tastefully deployed. The Wrecking Crew's Leon Russell, Hal Blaine and Carol Kaye are just a few of the 30 or so names here. Listen out for an inspired James Burton guitar solo on Pack My Jack . Spoon Meets Pao (1990, Kindred Spirits): the late Jimmy Witherspoon's 1990 visit to the old Jazz Club in Lan Kwai Fong introduced him to guitarist Pao and the rest of the house band. The blues singer liked the musicians so much he suggested recording this set of classic blues songs.