In a city that whole-heartedly celebrates vibrant live music, embellished costumes, and a thriving nightlife scene, New Orleans is the proud home to a band that represents the great heritage of the city. Following up a newly released live recording from the 2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the DUKES of Dixieland are celebrating Halloween, a holiday second only to Mardi Gras in the crescent city.
The new EP, New Orleans Voodoo, features three tracks with specific focus to the haunted holiday. The opener, "Marie Laveau," pays tribute to the legendary Louisiana Creole practitioner. Papa Celestin wrote the song in the early '50s, nearly 75 years after the voodoo queen's reported death. The next track, "I Put a Spell on You," is a Halloween classic with bassist Alan Broome contributing his gravely voice for the track. Bobby Goldsboro's stirring "Voodoo Woman" rounds out the release with the tale of a seductive voodoo woman who needs to "stay away from me."
"Halloween rivals Mardi Gras in New Orleans with creative costuming and revelry. The most haunted city delivers the ultimate vibe for the largest Halloween party on the planet," explains trumpeter/bandleader Kevin Clark on the significance of this release in New Orleans at this time of year. "We decided to put these voodoo songs out during Halloween season to add to the cauldron of spooky tunes."
With a strong heritage of both music and Halloween festivities in New Orleans, this type of release is special for the DUKES of Dixieland in their hometown. "I think all of New Orleans music has a certain feel, a grittiness to it," says Clark. "It's dirt under your fingernails music." This is a defining quality that the band historically brings to their music, whether it's their traditional jazz leanings or a tribute to one of the city's finest holidays.
DUKES of Dixieland are a staple in the New Orleans music community with a history that traces back 41 years and seven-nights-a-week performances on their Mississippi River home base, the Steamboat NATCHEZ (a tradition for 20+ years and counting). The band performs on the boat 45 weeks a year and spends the rest of their time playing with orchestras and at festivals and performing arts centers both in the US and abroad.
Made up of well-studied musicians with hundreds of songs in their repertoire and countless performances under their belt, the DUKES make it a point to balance their virtuosity with that grit, never losing sight of the elements that make the Big Easy special. The modern DUKES of Dixieland trace their history back to when trumpeter and cornetist Connie Jones left Pete Fountain's band to reform the band. They opened their own nightclub later that year in the French Quarter and have been a New Orleans institution ever since, taking up residency on the Steamboat NATCHEZ in 1992. Clark, who had previously served a thirteen-year tenure in the band before leaving in 2002, returned to take the helm in 2010.
He brought integral experience from playing at Disney World and booking shows for Toronto venues with him.