THE SOUL REBELS
The SOUL REBELS formed when Lumar LeBlanc and Derrick Moss, originally members of New Orleans’ iconic Dejean’s Young Olympia Brass Band, decided they wanted to play the new, exciting music they were hearing on the radio while respecting the tradition they loved. Both New Orleans natives, the pair was steeped in the fundamentals of New Orleans jazz, but inevitably, contemporary styles of music began to seep into their psyches. While LeBlanc attended the famed St. Augustine High School, Moss went to Lil’ Wayne’s alma mater McMain High School, and paraded alongside soon-to-be Cash Money Records CEO Ronald “Slim” Williams in the school’s marching band. New sounds were all around and they found them as exciting as the horn-combo style featured in jazz funerals since the turn of the Twentieth Century.
“We wanted to make our own sound without disrespecting the brass tradition,” LeBlanc recalls, “so we knew we had to break away.” They found a stylistic middle ground when they spun off and formed a band of young, like-minded local players from all over New Orleans. Graduates of university music programs throughout the South, the band took the marching band format they had learned in school and incorporated influences from outside the city as well as late-breaking local styles – R&B, funk and hip-hop – especially through half-sung, half-rapped lyrics. “Most of our originals have vocals,” says LeBlanc. “You wouldn’t have done that in a traditional brass band.”
Soon, the Soul Rebels’ contagious originals and updated takes on standards won them a loyal local audience. They began rocking some of New Orleans’ most beloved live music venues. A chance gig opening for the Neville Brothers got them a real start—and an official name. It was youngest brother Cyril Neville who first called them “Soul Rebels,” a good name for a band that strived to incite positive change in its treasured musical heritage. Since those days, the band has settled on an eight-piece lineup, building a career around an eclectic live show that harnesses the power of horns and drums in the party-like atmosphere of a dance club. Their weekly show at Uptown New Orleans spot Le Bon Temps Roulé has been known to descend into a sweaty shout-along as the band mixes up songs from its five studio albums with hits by Jay-Z and OutKast.
While touring the U.S., the Soul Rebels have shared the stage with notable artists from many corners of the pop and jazz worlds, including Arcade Fire, The Roots, Bootsy Collins, Robert Plant & Jimmy Page, Counting Crows, Green Day, Drive By Truckers, James Brown, Roy Hargrove, Allen Toussaint, Chuck Brown, Terence Blanchard, The Gap Band, Better than Ezra and many more. Averaging around 250 shows per year, the Soul Rebels have brought the party to stages as far away as South Africa and Europe, playing some of the world’s best-known music events, including, Umbria Jazz Fest, Antibes Jazz Festival, The Montreal Jazz festival, Bonnaroo, the Wanee Festival and, of course, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
When Hurricane Katrina struck their hometown in 2005, the band scattered across the region. Though a few members relocated to cities in Texas, the band frequently reconvened for gigs in New Orleans, this time with a renewed purpose. “Music has been the number one vehicle for Katrina recovery,” says LeBlanc. “That catastrophe has brought so much world wide attention to our music.”
Indeed, since the storm, the band has been more successful than ever serving as an international ambassador of the New Orleans sound. Now a hardcore touring band with a solid-as-ever lineup, the band has recently represented its hometown on television, appearing in the season finale of the HBO series Treme, the Discovery Channel hit After the Catch, and the NBC broadcast of the parade before the Saints’ winning 2010 Super Bowl.
In January of 2012, the band will finally release its first international album, Unlock Your Mind, on Rounder Records. This new song-driven studio effort includes guest appearances by Cyril Neville, Trombone Shorty and Meters guitarist Leo Nocentelli. The album was produced by Rounder VP of A&R Scott Billington, who was also at the helm of many of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s groundbreaking albums.
The Soul Rebels continue charting new territory today. Called “the missing link between Public Enemy and Louis Armstrong” by the Village Voice, the Soul Rebels combine top notch musicianship and songs with grooves that celebrate life in time-honored New Orleans style.
Shareese Ballard, better known as Res, is a female indie singer from Philadelphia. Her music is an alternative mixture of soul, rock and indie pop. She released her debut album, How I Do, in 2001 featuring the first single “Golden Boys.” Later the same year, the second single from the album, “Ice King,” was released. In 2002 she released her third (and first hit) single “They Say Vision,” which hit number one on the Billboard dance chart and number 37 on the Hot 100 Singles Sales chart. Fans and insiders are quick to tell you that How I Do is a criminally underrated album
Two years ago, Res returned to Philadelphia where she’s rebuilding her career, DIY-style. This time around, Res is working on her own terms. Without label support, Res is a one-woman business screening musicians, scheduling rehearsals, booking shows and pushing publicity to lift her brand new show, album and career up off the ground. She was featured on the cover of Philadelphia Weekly in which an article regarding her return to Philadelphia was highlighted. To announce that she’s home and ready to rock, Res was hosting a residency Sunday nights at Silk City she called Reset, also the name of the forthcoming album that will be ready for release this year.
Res recently landed an indie- deal with Javotti Media to release her next project called ReFried Mac. For this eclectic project Res chose five of her favorite Fleetwood Mac songs and along with producer Tom Spiker recreated them in her own way.
Res’ near-decade long career is filled with winding paths and memorable experiences. While she’s no stranger to the hardships of being an artist, Res is simply in love with making music. By now many would have given up, but Res was born to make music. Simply put, “You’re destined to do what you’re destined to do.”
Since arriving in the United States at the end of the 1990s, the Cuban percussionist Pedro Martinez has been all over the place, putting rumba and guaguancó into the weave of all kinds of groups. But when his drums, singing and writing are the focus – as is the case in his new band– he’s an incomparable performer. - Ben Ratliff, New York Times June 25, 2010
The Pedrito Martinez Group has its roots planted firmly in the Afro-Cuban Rumba tradition and in the bata rhythmsand vocal chants of the music of Yoruba and Santeria. Ben Ratliff summed it up aptly for the New York Times (June 15, 2010) calling it, “complex, blenderized Africa-to-the-New-World funk.”
With its formation in the current lineup in 2008, the group has developed into an extraordinarily tight and creative unit. With a home base gig in Midtown Manhattan the group has built a fan base that includes Steve Gadd, Ravi Coltrane, Taj Mahal, Eric Clapton, John Scofield, Roger Waters, Derek Trucks, Herlin Riley, and Will Lee.
Members include percussionist, Jhair Sala, from Lima, Peru; electric bassist, Alvaro Benavides, from Caracas, Venezuela; and keyboard player/vocalist, Araicne Trujillo, from Havana, Cuba.
Pedro Pablo “Pedrito” Martinez was born in Havana, Cuba, Sept 12, 1973. Pedrito began his musical career at the age of 11, performing as vocalist and percussionist playing with such Cuban legends as Tata Guines, Munequitos de Matanzas. He was brought to Canada in 1998, by Jane Bunnett, to tour with her group, Spirits of Havana. His decision to remain in North America to pursue his career, proved to be an auspicious one when, two years later, the annual Thelonious Monk Institute Competition showcased Afro-Latin Hand Drumming for the first time ever. Pedro entered and won first place.
Since settling in New York City in 2,000, Pedrito has performed, recorded, and/or toured with Paquito D’Rivera; Brian Lynch; Steve Turre; Me’shell Ndege’Ocello; Eddie Palmieri; Bill Summers and Los Hombres Calientes; Arturo “Chico” O’Farrill; Stefon Harris; Bebo Valdés; Cassandra Wilson; Joe Lovano, and Sting, (for his rainforest benefit, with Elton John and Bruce Springsteen). Pedro was also featured in 2,000, in the documentary film on Cuban music, Calle 54.
Mr. Martínez was also a member of the highly successful, Afro-Cuban/Afro-Beat band,Yerba Buena with which he recorded two albums and toured the world opening for bands including the Dave Matthews Band, Willie Nelson and Ray Charles.
Pedrito has also lent his talents to over one hundred records, including albums by Paquito d’Rivera, Issac Delgado, Eliane Elias, Stefon Harris, Steve Turre, Eddie Palmieri, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Conrad Herwig , Edie Brickell and many others. These include six records that have been Grammy® nominated and one, a collaboration between Eddie Palmieri and Brian Lynch, called “Simpatico”, that was awarded a Grammy®.
The group has released a live album recorded at their home gig in NYC. And plans are in the works for a studio album soon.
Pedro plays and endorses Latin Percussion, Remo, Vic Firth, Sabian and Gibralter.
The Slide Brothers
Robert Randolph Presents…The Slide Brothers
The Slide Brothers are Calvin Cooke, Chuck Campbell, Darick Campbell and Aubrey Ghent–the greatest living musicians who embody the Sacred Steel tradition. The joyous music these legendary artists create extends far beyond scared steel to encompass blues, rock and soul all celebrated with a sound that is uniquely their own.
The pedal steel guitar was introduced to church services by Willie Eason in the 1930’s. His single-string passages, which imitated the African-American singing and shouting voices, remain the signature sound of the Keith Dominion steel guitar style. The goal of a skilled steel player in church is to use the guitar to mimic voices, to ‘sing’ lines of the hymns and to provide praise music that pushes the congregation closer to feeling the Holy Spirit. This church-bred style of high energy electrified slide remains today an integral part of the worship service wherever the faithful gather.
Despite its role in church services, this dynamic, high energy music had never been heard outside of church. As a new century dawned, rumors of an extraordinary new form of slide guitar began to attract interest among blues fans who long favored the electrified sound of slide guitar masters such as Elmore James and Duane Allman. Where the music of Muddy Waters or the Allman Brothers showcased traditional six string slide guitar, critics and fans alike were jolted by the an even more potent brand of slide guitar being performed on pedal steel instruments. As the center core of the Sacred Steel movement was its artistic purity. Ted Beard, Calvin Cooke, Aubrey Ghent and other pedal steel icons within the church had fostered a rich, uniquely American art form unspoiled by commercialism.
Robert Randolph has become the most successful artist to emerge from the Sacred Steel tradition. Randolph was trained as a pedal steel guitarist in the House of God Church and his dynamic use of the instrument has earned him international acclaim. Randolph’s mission is to share the extraordinary talents of these legendary masters with audiences throughout the world. Together with Co-Producer John McDermott, Randolph has readied the group’s debut album for release by Concord Records later this year.
Nashville country steel guitarists have dubbed Calvin Cooke the “B.B. King of gospel steel guitar.” Calvin was born in 1944 in Cleveland, Ohio into a musical family that belonged to the Church of the Living God, Jewell Dominion, which had a strong steel guitar tradition. Calvin first picked up the guitar in 1955 when a member of his extended family bought him a six-string guitar, but his fingers were too small to play it. To achieve the sound he wanted, Calvin used a knife as a slide. In time his mother purchased a steel guitar at a local pawn shop. He continues to use the same instrument on stage today as well as a ten string pedal steel instrument which he plays in a unique tuning that came to him in a vision.
By 1958 Cooke had brought the influence of Jewell music, which is characterized by slower tempos and boogie rhythms, to the Keith Dominion. Bishop Henry Harrison was so impressed by the young steel virtuoso that he took Cooke on the road with him to preach the Gospel. Harrison was a carpenter and together they helped build churches by day. By night he played and sang while the Bishop preached. Calvin is hailed today as the most influential living pedal steel guitar master within the Sacred Steel tradition.
Aubrey Ghent, a nephew of Willie Eason, has also become a celebrated steel guitarist, preserving the sacred steel tradition and instrumental in bringing it to a wider audience. Ghent’s father, Henry Nelson, was also schooled by Eason and played sacred steel for over 50 years, sharing the stage with such gospel greats as Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Mahalia Jackson. Ghent is hailed as a master of the lap steel guitar and his skillful technique has earned him worldwide acclaim. Ghent’s unique skills became apparent at the age of nine when local churches began to invite him to perform at services. At twenty he answered God’s call and was known as the ‘Preaching Deacon”, evangelizing through word and music. Unlike Robert Randolph and the Family Band who have crossed over to doing more secular music, Aubrey Ghent has stayed closer to the gospel roots of tradition, as have many of the steel guitarists of the Jewell Dominion. In recent years, Ghent has performed and recorded with several top recording stars including Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks.
Chuck Campbell began playing the lap steel guitar at the age of eleven. At fifteen he became one of the first players to utilize the Pedal Steel guitar in the House of God Church, Keith Dominion. Chuck is renowned for his innovative approach to the instrument both technically and musically. His use of effects such as distortion, tone control pedals like the Wah-Wah and his picking techniques enable him to emulate the human voice in an uncanny fashion.
Early in his career Chuck became recognized for becoming the first steel player to be accomplished in the Sacred Steel styles of Calvin Cooke, Ted Beard and Henry Nelson. Chuck’s inventive blending of those methods along with his ground breaking use of complex chords and fast picking formed the musical style which is the most emulated among young Sacred Steel players today.
Darick Campbell first made his mark in music as a drummer. For several years Darick was the premier drummer of the General Assembly, the National Convocation of the House Of God Church in Nashville, Tennessee. His choice of the Lap Steel is a reflection of the influences he has blended to become the most emotional player of The Campbell Brothers musical tour d’ force. His renditions of “End of My Journey” have caused audiences throughout the world to weep in heartfelt response to his playing.
The Slide Brothers were recently featured as part of the Experience Hendrix Tour, thrilling sold out audiences across the US and Canada with their interpretations of such Hendrix signature songs as “Purple Haze” and “Foxey Lady”. Their acclaimed performances have won fans who had never witnessed the infectious appeal of the sacred steel. Their enthusiastic reactions came as no surprise to Robert Randolph. “My goal is to open the door for people in the same way that musical doors have been opened for me,” explains Randolph. “I want to take this musical history and make it relevant to give people a better idea of who we are and where this tradition came from. I think even though I’m a young guy who was born into the era of hip-hop and contemporary gospel, I can help bridge the cultural gap between people who are seventy-five years old and kids who are fifteen years old by reaching back into this history of music.”