December 16, 2004

A Bonerama Experience

Live From New York, Bonerama, 2004

Note: to hear audio clips, please go to

The Friday before Thanksgiving, we took I-10 across the Basin, that great swath of swampland, lakes, bayous and waterways, that lies just to the east of Lafayette, and went down to New Orleans for the big Bonerama CD release party at Tipitina’s. They were throwing down in celebration of their new one, Live From New York, a worthy follow-up to their 2001 debut, Live At The Old Point.

Both their CDs recorded live? Obviously, they thrive on that musician/audience synergy and don’t want to be damped down by the remote confines of a recording studio. Having seen them play numerous times over that past few years, I can attest to the impact and prowess of this aggregation that probably could have sprung up nowhere else but in The Home of the Groove. In the basic unit, you’ve got four trombonists, one playing at times through wah-wah and a cranked guitar amp, a sousaphonist, guitarist, and trap drummer, all wailing on ballsy, brassy, funk-infused originals, some fine tunes by other NOLA composers, plus unbelievable covers of classic rock (!) songs by Hendrix, the Allman Brothers, et al. Such experimentation could have been a disaster; but, inspired by generations of musical cross-breeding on New Orleans’ streets and stages, these masterful, inventive players have birthed and raised-up a gloriously conglomerated harmonic groove-monster.

When Bonerama unleash their New Orleans Brass Funk Rock, they blow you down, turn you around, then suck you into a wild, irresistible carnival ride. The tunes are joyous (even funny) and mind-bending. My favorite song of our night and on the new CD (so far) remains co-founder Craig Klein’s “Shake Your Rugalator”, struttin’ its classic second line roots.

Recorded at the Tribeca Rock Club in Manhattan, Live From New York is a great representation of the band’s show and has some cool special guests, legendary ‘bone man Fred Wesly (James Brown, JB Horns) and Galactic drummer Stanton Moore. The party at Tip’s had even more. Fred and Stanton couldn’t make it; so, instead, trombonists Rick Trolsen (a former member), Big Sam Williams, and Andy Pizzo joined the horn line. Not only that, singer/guitarist Anders Osborne sat in most of the night, along with master sousaphonist Kirk Joseph, and the patron saint of funk bass, George Porter, Jr. In all that’s seven trombones, two sousaphones, bass, drums, and two guitars. Am I forgetting anybody? Oh yeah, drummer David Russell Batiste (who played on the first CD) of the Funky Meters sat in on a song, too. We reluctantly left the club near 2:00 AM with them still holding forth and the crowd hanging on for more. I had that righteous new CD in my hand; and I keep it spinning regularly. It’s the next best thing to being at one of their impressive gigs; and you don’t have to burn your clothes afterwards.

In addition to the audio clips, find out more about the band, get on the mailing list, and pick up a CD at their website or at the
Louisiana Music Factory. To sense the unique and powerful mojo of contemporary New Orleans music at its shape-shifting finest, a Bonerama encounter, live or virtual, is in order. Catch ‘em, if you can. You probably won’t ever be the same. Hell, I didn’t even realize I had a rugalator, until I shook mine that night. Thanks to everybody for all the fun.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You captured the 'Bone experience perfectly! There's nothing like a Bonerama blow out shaking you to your inner core. I was also at the CD release party and it was a truly extraordinary experience.

8:22 AM, December 22, 2004  

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