Bourbon and Dumaine
The Easy Riders
November 29, 2004
They've been away from Quebec City three weeks, picking up gigs as they've moved. Chicago, Nashville, Memphis, and a six day successful stay in Clarksdale, MS. Monday night, they were still undecided whether their next stop would be Florida or Mexico. Rene wanted Mexico because he thought they had come this far, why not keep going? But, at the same time, he just bought a house in Quebec, so if they weren't making enough money, they'd have to retreat.
The trio of guitarist/vocalist Lily, guitarist/snare dude Sebastian, and bongoite Rene decided to start off their night in a lighted portion of a Bourbon Street sidewalk in front of a youth hostel. They got a little action, and they made about $20 over four hours. Before they could find an area with more human traffic, they were kicked off the street for a noise complaint at around 9:30. Yes, they were loud on a residential block, but in any bar, they would have gotten drowned out by the din. They attacked silence with only two acoustic guitars, a harmonica, a snare drum with brushes, and a waist-suspended bongo. Oh, and Lily's beautiful voice. She could sing any kind of pop music, but her sweet voice would have fit well with a jazz ballad.
They didn't play jazz. Their original music was often some sort of unidentifiable blend between soul and rockabilly. Soul music with a rockabilly beat. They had a wonderfully catchy, upbeat number about it being a pretty day.
Some of their songs had more obvious influences. After one of their songs reminded me of A Sheryl Crow tune that sounded like trains-a-comin' rollicking Johnny Cash, I asked Sebastian if they had just played a Sheryl Crow song. He said it was influenced by Johnny Cash and left it at that. No offense to Sheryl Crow, but if she's the middleman, I'll cut her out. They also threw in a couple covers, such as Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Proud Mary" and "Down on the Corner."
The band was talented. They put more than a few smiles on the faces of passer-bys. Each of them took turns brushing the snare, but I was particularly impressed when Sebastian kept the rhythm on the snare's metal with one brush while he provided the downbeat on the head with the other brush. None of them took solos. That was probably best. Their music wasn't bombastic. It was subtle. The way Lily's voice weaved with the bongo weaved with the guitar weaved with the snare seamlessly. They weren't breaking any new musical boundaries. Just turning out rhythms pleasurable to the ear.
The band moved onto Frenchman and played between The Apple Barrel and The Spotted Cat for about an hour, and they reached a crossroads at Decatur and Esplanade. Walk down to Cafe Du Monde for more exposure or cut their losses. They may have looked at it differently, but whatever they would have done next, the night still would have been a success.