Sunday, July 29, 2018

Aston Neighborhood Pleasure Club

"...the idea is that this kind of music—like orchestral, one might say—is best heard (and recorded) live, with no studio trickery..."
The Aston Neighborhood Pleasure Club plays a bit of a different tune than most of the artists that come up on this site. Not rock, hip-hop, neo-techno, psych-pop or whatever else... No, this quintet is more jazz-inclined, but specifically tapping in to street bands in New Orleans tradition. We're talking Dixieland; we're talking ebullient, strut-and-swing, shimmy-and-smile string-band jams; finger-snapping, toe-tapping, frenetically-melodic ditties, graceful and versatile to improvisation. The ANPC is Erik McIntyre: banjo and guitar / Matt LoRusso: guitar / Dave Vessella: Trumper and vocals / Jorian Olk-szost: Upright bass and Joshua James: sax, clarinet, vocals.

"We draw inspiration," said James, "from the sounds of many bands and street ensembles currently active in the New Orleans music scene. Though its labeled as 'trad-jazz,' the music (that ANPC enlivens) encompasses early blues, Americana, folk and gypsy music." The ANPC is getting ready to record their next album, and they're planning to do it LIVE with YOU in the audience. On Sunday, Aug 5, they'll perform two sets (12:30pm & 2:30pm) at Howe's Bayou in Ferndale. After that, they'll get to mixing the magic and preparing a proper album, and if you're in attendance, that Sunday, then you're going to receive that hard copy once it's completed (as part of your ticket purchase). Both sets will be completely unique in arrangement, each song will be captured onto the album. Oh, and you'll also have the full bar service and a special limited brunch menu, when you get to Howe's. Click here for more info.
I caught up with James to chat about ANPC and the exhilaration of the live performance...

What do you enjoy most, -actually, what do you think it is that all of you cats enjoy most-- about playing this style of music as an ensemble...compared to your other avenues, be it jazz, folk, or whatever else
Of course inherent within this music is a sense of improvisation, which speaks to all of us. But rooted within the musical tradition is the art (and irreverence) of the busker. This music forces us to develop a patter with the audience that is equal parts vaudeville and carnival barker. The music also allows us to develop characters, which we’ve honed to our present show. Dave and I are two sides of the same coin when we sing, and the patter between us in a song is distinct and part of the show.

Describe the build up, psychologically? emotionally? to a LIVE recording...what's that like as an artist/performer? What's the key to fighting off whatever it might be, anxiety or whatever else...
The concept for the live recording actually came from two places. The first was the success of my last recording with my other band, the TBO. That album, “Dance with the Devil,” was performed and recorded in the same way. (That album won a DMA for best jazz recording, I might add.) The second bit of inspiration comes from my friend Charlie Halloran, a fantastic trombonist based out of New Orleans. His most recent recording, which is doing quite well, nationally, was done in a similar way: live to tape. (Actually, his was live using one mic only, direct to acetate, and it sounds amazing!) The idea is that this kind of music—like orchestral, one might say—is best heard (and recorded) live, with no studio trickery. Since this musical tradition is based upon the interaction with and energy that comes from an audience, it seemed only right to record our next album in a live audience setting.
And since we’ve been holding down a monthly residence there at Howe’s Bayou for well over a year now, it seemed like the best place to do it. As far as mental preparation, beyond our regular time spent in the (practice) shed, it’s more a matter of selecting the right tunes, considering who to feature at any one time, and being as convivial as possible.

And, I hear that you've been working with The War & Treaty? That's unrelated to ANPC, but we still wanna hear about it...
Michael Trotter and I struck up a friendship, and he asked me to arrange several songs for him, hardening back to an earlier Motown style, with strings and horns. For now I’ll say there’s more to come...

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