Every music writer and their mother’s cousin always writes about “The New Orleans Sound” as if that were a singular, tangible thing, as if it could all be boiled down to some sort of traditional formula that anyone born east of Algiers inherits at birth. But really it’s all rather scattershot, from trad jazz to da’ blooze to project voodoo vicious gangsta’ rap to satanic gutter punk metal to, well, whatever $uicideBoy$ are. The band covered here, Flow Tribe, sticks to the trumpet-heavy high energy end of the spectrum, while tossing in some interesting positive hip hop elements, as can be heard on breakout tracks like “Walk Like an Animal” and “Hungry For You”, the trumpet, guitar, and washboard solos combining for some good old fashioned get-up-and-groove music.
On lead vox and and trumpet is KC O’Rourke, backed by Tribe members John Michael Early on harmonica, washboards, vocals and keyboard, Russell Olschner on drums, Chad Penot on bass and vocals, Brian Santos on guitar and timbales, and Mario Palmisano on guitar. As can be seen on multiple high-views Youtube clips, these guys aren’t phoning it in no matter if they’re in a small club or on the main Voodoo stage.
14 years ago a mean mistress named Katrina smashed into town she left battered homes and chaos that continues to this day with entire formerly vibrant hoods turned to ghost towns. Lives were upturned and despair was in abundant supply. The six future Tribe members had scattered to go to school and work in different areas, though eventually they all found their way back to help their families rebuild. They all stuck around to form a band. None of them had any formal training but many had played in various bands, and the dozens and dozens of venues that still dot the city offered a lot of opportunity to get out there and play.
The Tribe pastes together a loose collage of hometown sounds from the late Dr. John to The Meters, splicing in a dose of dusted Check Your Head-era Beasties for good measure. Clad in fuchsia suits and sporting one of those perpetual five o’clock shadows that makes you wonder how he maintains it, KC plays the role of benevolent leader, keeping the music together while allowing things to get chaotic and spontaneous.
With The Tribe we have the classic setup of six musicians traveling the country in a van, hitting studios and stages along the way. This can either lead to drama and breakups or to band unity, and I’m happy to report that it’s synergy that comes across in their tight live performances, as was on full display when they crowded the stage at JITVHQ in LA:
The Tribe recently showed up at a pledge drive to do a performance and somehow wound up doing an impromptu jam with the Queen of New Orleans soul, Ms. Irma Thomas, accompanying The Queen on “Rolling Down The River”. KC now admits that his band has only rehearsed the song a few times in their existence. Fake it til you make it indeed.
If you’re not fortunate enough to live in New Orleans, you can check them out on one of their ventures outside the Crescent. If you do, then you can check them out on a local date. All their remaining 2019 dates are listed below.
DEC 31 TUE
Tina Romano & Daniel Falatko