"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
OK, so they’re bentgrass, the type used on golf course greens. But grass is grass.
The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill Wednesday, despite opponents who argued it would shut down the storefront lenders.
A measure to allow the state to implement its own, less stringent plan for limiting carbon dioxide emissions unanimously passed the Senate.
FDA to regulate e-cigarettes, Jodie Foster gets married, Vermont to require labels on genetically-modified food, and more news for today, April 24, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.
State Rep. Stuart Bishop says he’s concerned with the quality of Capitol Lake, but when it comes to Louisiana’s coastline, this Lafayette Republican doesn't seem to give a damn.
Democrats sweating this year's elections may be hoping that the Obama administration's latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.
Louisiana lawmakers are entering the second half of their three-month regular legislative session, which must end by June 2. Where some of the major issues stand: