"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
The latest meeting of a south Louisiana flood board that stirred political turmoil with a lawsuit against the oil and gas industry is taking place amid uncertainty over the future of the lawsuit — and the board's own membership.
The photos taken nearly a mile under the Gulf of Mexico are so clear that small holes are visible in a lifeboat that may have gone down or been scuttled when a passenger ship was sunk by a Nazi submarine in 1942.
Advocate columnist and Jindal shill Quin Hillyer has been against the New Orleans levee board lawsuit from day one, but a recent piece targeting author/activist John Barry prompted the perfect rebuttal from the board’s former vice-president, who takes Hillyer to task on just about every distorted claim he’s made on the issue.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
Pat Bowlen steps down; typhoon caused Taiwan plane crash; Arizona execution botched and more national and international news for Thursday, July 24, 2014.
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Saints again bring playoff aspirations into 2014 campaign.
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State police have arrested a 42-year-old Kaplan man in the July 7 hit and run fatality crash that killed a bicyclist on Louisiana Highway 92 near Milton.
Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy has picked up support for his U.S. Senate campaign from a former GOP competitor.
Lisa Hargis Smith lived a mysterious life as seen with her death earlier this month and its impact on the community of those who knew her, whether as a star student in Lafayette High’s class of ‘69, or later as a woman struggling with homelessness and mental illness.
Attorney Valerie Gotch Garrett will announce on Tuesday that she plans to run for the Division E seat of the 15th Judicial District Court.
Back in 2012, three Baton Rouge attorneys came to the aid of several disgruntled police officers with a high-profile lawsuit against the Lafayette Police chief and a number of higher-ups in city-parish government, but in a federal courtroom Thursday, their claims of conspiracy coupled with a lack of evidence backfired and the case was dismissed.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration intends to rework how it pays the private managed care networks that provide health services to two-thirds of Louisiana's Medicaid patients.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration is raising health insurance rates and cutting benefits for state employees and retirees, to keep their insurance program solvent.