Tag: Cha Wa Funk ‘n’ Feathers

Deriving their name from a slang phrase popularly used by Mardi Gras indian tribes that means “we’re comin’ for ya” or “here we come,” the Grammy Award-nominated New Orleans-based funk act Cha Wa — currently founding member and bandleader Joe Gelini, along with Spyboy J’Wan Boudreaux, Second Chief Joseph Boudreaux, Ari “Gato” Teitel, Joseph “Jose” Maize, Clifton “Spug” Smith, Aurelien Barnes, Eric “Bogey” Gordon, Edward “Juicey” Jackson and Haruka Kikuchi — can trace their origins back to 2014 when Gellni was first introduced to the Mardi Gras Indian tradition while attending Boston’Berklee College of Music, where he met New Orleans-born, jazz drummer Idris Muhammad, who gave Gellini lessons in New Orleans-styled drumming.

As the story goes, those lessons inspired Gellini to relocate to New Orleans after graduation. Gellini quickly became involved in the city’s beloved Mardi Gras Indian community, eventually attending rehearsals for Mardi Gras marches. Gellini met  Monk Boudreaux, Big Chief of the Golden Eagles and one of the city’s most widely known and popular Mardi Gras Indian vocalists at those rehearsals. Coincidentally, Boudreaux is the grandfather of Cha Wa’s frontman J’Wan Boudreaux.

Unsurprisingly those rehearsals eventually turned into Gellini performing alongside the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian legend. Gellini met J’Wan Boudreaux while the younger Boudreaux was still attending high school, but shortly after, J’Wan joined the band as their frontman. Since then, Cha Wa have established a sound and aesthetic that simultaneously draws from New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indian tradition and the city’s beloved rhythm and blues and funk sounds through the release of three albums — 2016’s debut Funk ‘N’ Feathers, 2018’s Grammy Award-nominated Spyboy and their most recent album, My People, which was released last week.

“Mardi Gras Indian tradition and culture goes back over 250 years in the city of New Orleans. And it’s a culture that derives from men of color wanting to celebrate the Mardi Gras holiday but weren’t able to at the time,” Boudreaux explained in an interview with NPR. “So what they did was they created these elaborate suits…it represented the Native Americans that helped the Blacks escape slavery, and they actually helped them throughout the swamps and the bywater to get where they needed to go. So to pay homage to those natives, these men created what we call today Indian suits.” On the album Cha Wa founder Joe Gellni adds that the group “”tapped into that collective unconscious of what it is to live in New Orleans and to see all the nuances and ways that different people of color in the band actually experience racism — what sort of plight we’re facing in New Orleans socially and culturally, and class-wise and environmentally.”

My People‘s latest single, album title track “My People” is a strutting bit of funk that’s one-part classic second line march, one part The Meters, one part Nite Tripper-era Dr. John centered around a shuffling rhythm, shimmering Rhodes, a big horn section and call and response vocals singing lyrics that remind people of the universal facts of life: the rich get rich, while the sick get sicker; that while we have our differences, we have much more in common than we expect — we’ll all experience heartbreak, despair, frustration, loss, death. And if we can see that the universe in others, it may mean we get closer to understanding someone else’s life and their pain.

Although they haven’t been able to tour, as a result of the pandemic, but they have made a recent appearance on Good Morning America and on NPR, and that has allowed them to spread the album’s music and message to a much wider audience — and not just to those who will agree with them, but as Boudreaux explained to NPR “also to the people who may not be so open…just try to open up your eyes and see the world through the lens of the next person – the person that’s next to you, being held down by these different things like systematic oppression…if we don’t say anything about it, then no one will actually understand and know that we’re with them.” 

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written quite a bit about New Orleans-based funk and brass septet Cha Wa. Led by its founding members and bandleaders, vocalist/percussionist Irving “Honey” Banister, Big Chief of the Creole Wild West Tribe and drummer Joe Gelini, who have both involved with New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indian scene for years, the members of the septet have developed a reputation for a sound and aesthetic that combines the Mardi Gras Indian tradition, and the area’s long-held reputation for rhythm and blues and funk. After playing countless shows in their hometown, the septet’s long-awaited debut album Funk ‘n’ Feathers was released earlier this month, and the album reportedly draws from the seminal Mardi Gras Indian-inspired work of the 1970s — Wild Magnolias (backed by The Meters), The Neville Brothers and Dr. John‘s Nite Tripper albums; however, the material also was produced by Galactic’s Ben Ellman, who has also worked with Trombone Shorty, and mixed by San Francisco, CA‘s go-to engineer Count, who has worked with DJ ShadowRadioheadLyrics Born and others.

Released just in time for Mardi Gras, the album’s first single was a loose, stomping and swinging cover of Dr. John’s “All On A Mardi Gras Day” that feels as though you’re following a hot and jamming band with the marching Indians in their costumes marching down the streets of Uptown New Orleans — but with a slick, studio polish that doesn’t scrub away the inherently gritty, street-level funk and the ebullient, let the good time roll-feel within the song.  The album’s second was a raucous, percussive, stomping and absolutely swinging rendition of a Mardi Gras and New Orleans standard “Jock-A-Mo (Iko Iko)” that feels like a non-stop party full of hooting and hollering, and hot keyboard and guitar solos; however, where their rendition of “All On A Mardi Gras” felt as though you were following along in a second line, their rendition of “Jock-A-Mo (Iko Iko)” feels as though it were recorded in a tiny, sweaty and packed club — in some way, you can almost feel the floor shaking from feet stomping in time to the rhythm.

Funk ‘N’ Feathers‘ latest single “UPT” is a written for and dedicated to Uptown New Orleans and much like the album’s previous singles, it’s a raucously ebullient the band creates a funky groove with stomping, tribal percussion, twisting, turning and soaring organ chords, an explosive horn section, a blistering guitar solo and chanted call and response vocals. It’s New Orleans-based funk at its finest, done with an enormous, megawatt smile — and if it doesn’t make you get off your ass and dance and shout, you must have a cold, cold heart.

The band has a number of live dates coming up throughout the next few months. Check out tour dates below.

UPCOMING SHOWS:
04/21- Ogden Museum of Southern Art – New Orleans, LA
04/23- New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – New Orleans, LA
04/30- French Broad River Festival – Asheville, NC
06/04- Michael Arnone’s Crawfish Festival – Augusta, NJ

Last month, I wrote about New Orleans-based septet Cha Wa. Led by its founding members and bandleaders, vocalist/percussionist Irving “Honey” Banister, Big Chief of the Creole Wild West Tribe and drummer Joe Gelini, who have both involved with New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indian scene for years, the members of the septet have developed a reputation for a sound and aesthetic that combines the Mardi Gras Indian tradition, and the area’s long-held and beloved reputation for rhythm and blues and funk. After playing countless shows in their hometown, the septet’s long-awaited debut album Funk ‘n’ Feathers is slated for an April 1 release, and the album reportedly draws from the seminal Mardi Gras Indian-inspired work of the 1970s — Wild Magnolias (backed by The Meters), The Neville Brothers and Dr. John‘s Nite Tripper albums; however, the material also has a contemporary twist as the album was produced by Galactic‘s Ben Ellman, who has also worked with the likes of Trombone Shorty, and mixed by San Francisco, CA‘s go-to engineer Count, who has worked with DJ ShadowRadioheadLyrics Born and others.

Released just in time for Mardi Gras, the album’s first single was a loose, stomping and swinging cover of Dr. John’s “All On A Mardi Gras Day” that feels as though you’re following a hot and jamming band with the marching Indians in their costumes marching down the streets of Uptown New Orleans — but with a slick, studio polish that doesn’t scrub away the inherently gritty, street-level funk and the ebullient, let the good time roll-feel within the song.  The album’s second and latest single is a raucously percussive, stomping and absolutely swinging rendition of a Mardi Gras and New Orleans standard “Jock-A-Mo (Iko Iko)” that feels like a non-stop party full of hooting and hollering, and hot keyboard and guitar solos; however, where their rendition of “All On A Mardi Gras” felt as though you were following along in a second line, their rendition of “Jock-A-Mo (Iko Iko)” feels as though it were recorded in a tiny, sweaty and packed club — in some way, you can almost feel the floor shaking from feet stomping in time to the rhythm.

The band has a number of live dates coming up throughout the next few months. Check out tour dates below.

UPCOMING SHOWS:

03/05- Howlin’ Wolf – New Orleans, LA
03/31- Lafayette’s – Memphis, TN
04/01- Blue Nile [Album Release Show] – New Orleans, LA
04/07- French Quarter Fest – New Orleans, LA
04/10- d.b.a – New Orleans, LA
04/21- Ogden Museum of Southern Art – New Orleans, LA
04/23- New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – New Orleans, LA
04/30- French Broad River Festival – Asheville, NC
06/04- Michael Arnone’s Crawfish Festival – Augusta, NJ

 

Led by its founding members and bandleaders singer/percussionist Irving “Honey” Banister, Big Chief of the Creole Wild West Tribe and drummer Joe Gelini, who have both been involved with New Orleans‘ Mardi Gras Indians for years, the members of the funk septet Cha Wa have developed a reputation for a sound and aesthetic that combines the Mardi Gras indian tradition and the area’s reputation for rhythm and blues and funk. And after playing countless shows in their beloved hometown, the septet’s long-awaited debut album Funk ‘n’ Feathers is slated for an April 1, and the album reportedly draws from the seminal Mardi Gras Indian-inspired work of the 1970s — Wild Magnolias (backed by The Meters), The Neville Brothers and Dr. John‘s Nite Tripper albums; however, the material also has a contemporary twist as the album was produced by Galactic‘s Ben Ellman, who has also worked with the likes of Trombone Shorty, and mixed by San Francisco, CA‘s go-to engineer Count, who has worked with DJ Shadow, Radiohead, Lyrics Born and others.

The album’s first single is a loose, stomping and swinging cover of Dr. John’s “All On A Mardi Gras Day” that feels as though you’re following a hot and jamming band with the marching Indians in their featured costumes marching down the streets of Uptown New Orleans — but with a slick, studio polish that doesn’t scrub away the inherently gritty, street-level funk and the ebullient, let the good time roll-feel within the song.  If the song doesn’t make you want to stomp around and dance, then you have a cold, cold heart.

The band has a number of live dates coming up throughout the next few months. Check out tour dates below.

UPCOMING SHOWS:

02/08- Riverwalk – New Orleans, LA [Lundi Gras Celebration]
02/08- Tipitina’s Mardi Gras Stands – New Orleans, LA
02/09- 30×90 – New Orleans, LA
02/27- Universal Studios Orlando – Orlando, FL
03/05- Howlin’ Wolf – New Orleans, LA
03/31- Lafayette’s – Memphis, TN
04/01- Blue Nile [Album Release Show] – New Orleans, LA
04/07- French Quarter Fest – New Orleans, LA
04/10- d.b.a – New Orleans, LA
04/21- Ogden Museum of Southern Art – New Orleans, LA
04/23- New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – New Orleans, LA
04/30- French Broad River Festival – Asheville, NC
06/04- Michael Arnone’s Crawfish Festival – Augusta, NJ