"None. That's a very important point. None," says Tommy Malone, vocalist and guitarist for the venerable roots-rock group. "It was all completely written and recorded long before [Katrina]."
As the CD's January 2006 release date approached, Malone and his bandmates considered the impact and connotations of the album's title.
"Certainly that's something we thought about," Malone says. "It's referencing one of the songs, which is the Papa Dukie song, talking about our playground as kids, literally the area called the batture behind the levee, which is where you get away from your parents and do all the fun stuff," he says. "We just thought with all the crap that everyone's going through this year, and the negativity attached to that word ' why not just do it and put a positive spin on that word 'levee.'"
And spin positively the 'dudes do. The first single, "Papa Dukie and the Mud People," recalls with nostalgia when two busloads of hippies set up camp in Wallace, one town over from Edgard where Malone and percussionist Steve AmedÃ©e spent their formative years. Eddie "Dukie" Edwards ' a professional drummer who returned home from Los Angeles with the hippies ' and his band set up a stage, threw parties and emitted smoke and patchouli.
"It was huge," Malone says. "It was like, I don't know, how do you describe that, when you're a teenager? That's like taking your first drink, or getting your first â?¦ you know. Girl. Or your first anything. It was real genuine stuff."
Most of the local folks were curious, and a few thought the hippies would corrupt their children. Malone says he and AmedÃ©e weren't corrupted any more than they wanted to be and points out that Papa Dukie did what they do now: "Ride around and set up and play music."
And when the subdudes come to town, a welcome wagon often precedes them. "Papa Dukie and the Mud People," with its infectious chorus of "na-na-nas," charted in the top five for AAA airplay, and Behind the Levee reached No. 1 on the Roots Music Report. Multiple tour dates on their current tour are selling out.
While the band's 2004's Miracle Mule CD was a landmark return after an eight-year hiatus, Behind the Levee signals the subdudes may be back to stay. Both albums contain some of the strongest material the band has offered since its 1987 inception, without a drastic change in sound. The lyrics are still simple, almost hymn-like, with the harmonies adding the depth, and the music is still built on the backbeat provided by minimal percussion while Malone's guitar and John Magnie's piano and accordion work augment the rhythm section. The subdudes' firm grounding in Americana continues to blossom with maturity.
"I think in the past we were a little guilty of not wanting to go back and rewrite," says Malone. "You know, it blurts out and then you leave it alone. I think we've gotten older, and we spend more time trying to fine tune it a little bit."
For Behind the Levee, the subdudes enlisted blues/pop singer/songwriter and guitarist Keb' Mo' to aid in the fine tuning, which fleshes out a stronger R&B flavor. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band contributes as well. Keb' Mo co-produced the album, plays guitar and mandolin for a few tracks and also played taskmaster.
"It was pretty intense; a lot of hours, a lot of pretty hard work," says Malone. "He's a pretty focused, hard working guy."
After their Festival International appearance on Thursday evening, Malone and company are looking forward to getting behind the levee at this year's New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
"I think it's gonna be very emotional for a lot of people," Malone says. "A healing thing. A coming together. There for bigger reasons than just getting up to perform their set."
Malone and bassist Jimmy Messa were both displaced by Katrina and have since returned home, but the work is still ongoing. "Jimmy just got walls up about a week ago. My downstairs is being rebuilt as we speak; I just got walls down there, too," Malone says. "Now we get to get it all nice and pretty and paint it and decorate it and put some furniture in there ' and then June 1 is hurricane season."
Thursday, April 27, 6 p.m.
Popeyes ScÃ¨ne International Stage
Phoenix flooding stuns residents; Gaza truce talks collapse, NFL vets defy age label and more national and international news for Wednesday, August 20, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Visualize Lafayette’s next great thing from 3,000 feet.
A Baton Rouge judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday against enforcing a law that prohibits anyone 70 or older from running for justice of the peace or constable.
Gov. Bobby Jindal believes the last-minute passage of a pension hike for his state police superintendent, Col. Mike Edmonson, was improperly handled, according to the governor's office.
As the courts hash out the attempts to preserve and shelve Common Core in Louisiana, a group of six state lawmakers are planning an Aug. 22 trip to Oklahoma to meet with their counterparts and strategize for the 2015 regular session.
While hopes are high for turnout this fall, a new report from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate suggests that Louisiana's midterm face-offs may amount to nothing special in terms of votes cast.
The attorney hired by the Lafayette Parish School Board for a special investigation of Superintendent Pat Cooper has submitted his final report, though it may be another week before the findings are made public.
The Tea Party of Louisiana is calling Sen. David Vitter a “turncoat” for his newfound embrace of Common Core educational standards.
An annual report evaluating Gov. Bobby Jindal's privatization of Medicaid lacked important financial information and presented rosy performance reviews not corroborated by data, according to a review released Monday.
Lafayette attorney Michelle Meaux-Breaux has announced her plans to seek the Division E seat for judge in the 15th Judicial District.
A card-carrying member of Lafayette’s “tribe,” Milton “Spider” Guidry died over the weekend. IND music writer Nick Pittman remembers the character and the man.
As tensions continue to escalate in Ferguson, Mo., between law enforcement and residents protesting the shooting death of a local teen by police, we’re reminded of the peculiar circumstances surrounding the in-custody death earlier this year of a New Iberia man.
A group of teachers and parents who support Common Core is asking a state judge to invalidate Gov. Bobby Jindal's actions against the multi-state education standards.
Drew Brees walked up to the line of scrimmage early Sunday, taking a snap during the New Orleans Saints' pre-practice walk-through.
A state judge Friday refused a temporary injunction sought against state education officials in an effort to block implementation of the Common Core education standards in Louisiana.
UL was the consensus pick in a coaches' preseason poll to win the league, and experience has a lot to do with that.
The price tag has nearly doubled for Gov. Bobby Jindal's hiring of an outside consulting firm to recommend new ways to balance the state budget.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is under scrutiny for billing private chartered planes to her Senate office when she used the flights to attend campaign fundraisers.
Many people found not guilty by reason of insanity are being held in Louisiana jails, where they cannot get the treatment they need, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday.
In a just-released audio recording, City Prosecutor Gary Haynes claims Mike Harson had direct dealings with the alleged mastermind behind the bribery scheme in the DA’s office.
C-P councilmen sponsor a resolution in support of the notion that one should subscribe to Tea Party ideas about civics before being allowed to seek public office.
Russel Honoré, the retired U.S. Army general known for his role in restoring order to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and most recently for his involvement in the Green Army movement to stop environmental abuses of Louisiana, has now weighed in on the police response to protestors in Ferguson, Mo.
More than three dozen restaurants, bars, convenience stores and supermarkets in Lafayette Parish are facing fines in connection with the state office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control’s 2014 “Summer Crackdown.”
The grim news, delivered to the joint legislative budget committee, barely raised eyebrows at the committee hearing, after more than six years of such disappointing financial forecasts.