New Orleans: Gal Holiday

 

Andrew Evans blogs as Where’s Andrew? and is the Digital Nomad for National Geographic Traveler. He came to New Orleans, where we did a short interview which he combined with some live footage of us at Tipitina’s.  See my recommendations for where to eat and hear live music in the Crescent City!

Click the link. Go on. do it. New Orleans: Gal Holiday.

 

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Recording day #4

Take 2, pedal steel guitar.

The producers, i.e. me and Dave, made a decision on Monday to bring in some muscle on the pedal steel. Steve Spitz worked really hard and did a great job last Sunday, but going was slow. When there’s not an outside producer, part of the process in the studio is smart decision making by the band.

Enter, Tony Martinez.

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We met Tony in Phoenix, AZ through our friends in Hashknife Outfit, a band led by our buddy Jeremy Marcanti who puts us up (puts up with us?) when we play through the area. Tony helped us out of a player jam one time and then played with us again in Phoenix, cementing our insta-friendship.

Having recently moved to Nashville, he was down here less than 36 hours after we called him. He’s got a great attitude and is really a superb player, adding some beautiful sounds to the songs as he practiced in our living room this past week. We also played two gigs with him this week, at Banks Street Bar last night and Mimi’s on Wednesday. But that’s another story…

And Tamara Grayson has come in to take photos today and brought homemade carrot muffins. What a gift!

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We, The People

This week was a rough one for all Americans. I’ll not say too much about the Boston terror bombings except that no matter what happens, we’re all in this crazy life together and as a strong people, will make it through. Our thoughts are with all the Bostonian Buckaroos and their families.

On a more positive note, this year’s 30th Annual French Quarter Fest weekend was spectacular as usual and we were honored to be included for the sixth year in a row. Y’all came out in force for our show on the river and from all over the world, too. Hey, St. Louis! Hey, Colorado! And hello, San Francisco! Still though, we have yet to see one single picture from our performance, if you can believe it. (Post facto note: there are actually two cell phone photos up on my personal page…thanks Roblynn and Ron!) Please share the love by posting any photos on our Facebook page. If you’re not on social media you can email photos to the band by simply replying to this email. We’d really appreciate it!

I wanted to send a HUGE “Thank You!” to everyone who expressed your support both in person and financially to the family of Allison Pitcher, our friend and long time fan who passed suddenly a few weeks ago. The turnout at the benefit was awesome! You can still make a donation to the family online by clicking here to go to the website.

Tonight brings the Big Easy Entertainment Awards at Harrah’s Casino, and while Gal Holiday was not nominated, I was asked to be a presenter again this year. I’ll be wearing another beautiful dress from Trashy Diva, the fabulous New Orleans dress shop who sponsored the New Orleans Nightingales this year for French Quarter Fest. (Did you see the picture of the ‘Gales FQF performance yet? Now THERE’S an eyeful….) Trashy Diva has graciously sponsored me for both the awards show tonight AND our JazzFest performances. Too bad the guys in Gal Holiday don’t wear dresses. Great…now I’m picturing them all in frocks and it’s a little frightening!

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Photo courtesy: Eliot Kamenitz

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Photo courtesy: Babs Evangelista

20130422-141925.jpgFais Do Do @ The Maison – Photo courtesy: Vanessa Murphree

And that of course brings us to the upcoming New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and all the build up prior. We’ve got some great shows lined up this season! Unfortunately we had one cancellation due to ongoing noise ordinance issues in the city. Mimi’s in the Marigny has been served with a court injunction to cease and desist from all music. As far as I know that includes all Deejays, too.

This issue is a many sided one and you can find tons of extra reading on the subject by doing an online search. Being a musician and having lived in the boisterous French Quarter, I certainly have my opinions, of course. My feeling is that if you need peace and quiet you shouldn’t be living in this city. That said, there ARE quiet neighborhoods here. Shocking, I know. I do however, agree that too much noise can be downright annoying and that there should be rules and regulations. (All of which Mimi’s have complied with, FYI.)

Anyway, we’re trying to find a replacement show for the cancelled one next Thursday 5/2. Does anyone feel like hosting a house party? If you’re curious how that would work, please contact me. Also, keep an eye on our online schedule. Stuff pops up last minute all the time!

This week we’ll do a pre-Fest show at Rock ‘n’ Bowl for Swing Night on Wednesday 4/24. If you still haven’t been to this local insitution I will not chastise but simply encourage you to check it out! Friday 4/26 you can find us in the CBD at The Rusty Nail, which is the old Mermaid Lounge for those of you who go back that far. The fellas who own the bar have done a really beautiful renovation and it just keeps improving over the years.

On Saturday night 4/27, the ever tiny and super stellar Three Muses is the destination with our four piece band. Get there early and don’t be scared to squish…the food is superb and the service is, too. Then we have a few days off to fest with the rest and for me at least, celebrate a birthday! I feel like such a lucky gal to have my birthday during JazzFest each year. All the bulls in the house say, “Oh yea-yer!”

I’ll try to get another email out before the second weekend and our performance out at the fairgrounds on the second Friday. “Try” being the operative word. Once we get started we might just roll straight on through. We’re VERY excited about our slot this year, opening the Gentilly Stage for the great Willie Nelson! So please make sure to check our website, like us on Facebook and even follow me on Twitter. Plus, all the dates through both JazzFest weekends are below so keep scrolling.

Be safe, be smart and look out for and love each other. Until we meet again…

Your gal pal,
Vanessa

“Without the courage to fail there is no progress.”

Wednesday 4/24 @ Rock ‘n’ Bowl 3000 S. Carrollton Ave. (NOLA); 8:30pm-11:30pm
Friday 4/26 @ The Rusty Nail 1100 Constance St. (NOLA); 10pm-1am
Saturday 4/11 @ Three Muses 536 Frenchmen St. (NOLA); 9pm-12am
Wednesday 5/1 @ Siberia w/ opener Gregory Good 2227 St. Claude Ave. (NOLA); Gregory Good opens solo acoustic @ 9pm; Gal Holiday 10pm-1am
Thursday 5/2 @ TBA
Friday 5/3 @ New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival: Gentilly Stage (NOLA); 11:10am-11:55am
Friday 5/3 @ New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival: Kids’ Tent (NOLA); 5:15pm-6pm
Saturday 5/4 @ TBA

Post Carnival “Normalcy”

It’s Friday night and I’m sitting at home, keeping an eye on a sick kitty who is sleeping on the sofa next to me. The past few days have been spent catching up on things that fell through the cracks over the past week or so, mainly dishes and booking. No one in New Orleans functions “normally” during Mardi Gras, and unless you’ve been here to experience it firsthand there’s no way to relate it to anything else in terms of how much you have to rearrange your priorities. We had a great time this year though, even if it WAS more than a little weird to take a week off for SuperBowl. Below are a few pictures of our magical and foggy Mardi Gras, two I captured and one taken by our friend, Thaddeus who is the fella dressed as Star Trek crew with Dave in photo #1. Brian “Big Country” Ayres of our brother band, Country Fried and his lovely family are the subject of the third photo.

Vanessa and Dave - Mardi Gras 2013

A Foggy Mardi Gras

The Ayres' FamilySO, now that we’re “back to normal” here in New Orleans let me just say “PHEW!” and reconnect on a couple of things. Firstly is the previously mentioned Kickstarter campaign, still in limbo for a new album we’re writing for. With festival season fast approaching we’ve decided to push our deadline back until June, which will allow more time to do everything we need to get done. Please look out for the announcement of the Kickstarter, which I should be able to make active by mid-March.

Also, some of you may be aware that I was invited to sing leads with the acclaimed band, Squirrel Nut Zippers, albeit on a very part time basis. I’ll be heading to South America (!) with them in a little over a week for a short, three day trip to Ecudor and Colombia. After only one show with their band last September it’s a little nerve wracking, but also quite an honor as I’ve been a huge fan since the mid-90’s. Wish me luck! I’ll take pictures…

Before I head down south though, there are a few more Gal Holiday shows here in Louisiana and I’m looking forward to playing again! We’ve definitely been playing less shows that we’re used to and I’m
getting antsy.

There’s only one chance to catch us this weekend and that’s Saturday 2/16 at our old haunt, The BMC or Balcony Music Club. If you’ve been seeing us for a while you might have come to one of our Sunday evening shows that we played there for two years. While this isn’t going to turn into a weekly show again, it IS still a great room and we hope you’ll join us if you’re in town.

Next week we’ll be back at Mimi’s in the Marigny on Thursday 2/21 with our quartet and then a return to Mid-City Lanes Rock ‘n’ Bowl on Friday 2/22. We’re FINALLY making a return to Baton Rouge on Saturday 2/23 for a show at the new, and apparently super cool new venue, Mud and Water in downtown. As always, check our website for more info!

And now that we’re done with “Super Gras” we move on to festival season. I’m proud to announce that we’ll be making appearances at both French Quarter Festival and JazzFest again this year! If you’re headed to New Orleans for the fests, we hope to see you.

Keep dreaming of spring…

Your gal pal,
Vanessa

“Without the courage to fail there is no progress.”

Doh…the forgotten show

Aaaaaand…how the heck could I have forgotten our show at Mimi’s on Thursday! For those of you following the ordinance saga that continues to plague live music venues in New Orleans, Mimi’s had a great meeting with the neighborhood association last week. There are still some folks in the ‘hood who are not happy about live music on the block even though they have been doing it for ten years. BUT, we’ll be there on Thursday, albeit much quieter than usual. Join us for an evening of great music, food and folks!

Again, please join and share the Facebook event:

Thursday 10/25 @ Mimi’s in the Marigny; 9pm-12am Facebook event

Your gal pal,
Vanessa

"Without the courage to fail there is no progress."

F**k You, I’m Folk

Some of our long time New Orleans fans might remember back more than a few years ago to a Gal Holiday show at d.b.a. when yours truly had a Jameson fueled microphone moment in which I tried to explain why we’re not a country band. As everyone now knows, the “establishment” has ceased categorizing bands like ours as Country and started using the broadly generic term Americana. While there are many groups, like online magazine Turnstyled, Junkpiled who continue to campaign for the return to proper classification in the genre, I fear that we will be lumped in with Folk music for many years to come.

Two events transpired which added to the steaming brew in my brain which so erupted as previously mentioned. The first of which was a phone conversation with one highly respected female manager, “Jane” who is the driving force behind her well known Louisiana musician husband. Jane mentioned that if we ever decided to submit our work to the Grammys, we would NOT fall under the Country category but rather submit as Americana/Folk. This was my first concrete assertion of something I had been suspect of for a while.

The second event that set the wheels of our new movement in motion was something funny that happened to Domenic, a fellow musician who at the time was our roommate when Dave B. had his recording studio in the French Quarter. Dom was looking for a dobro guitar in a catalog and having difficulty finding one. Maybe it’s listed in guitars? No. They’ve GOT to have one somewhere in here! Hmmmm. He flipped the pages and there it was, nestled amongst the mandolins and banjos under FOLK instruments. WELL.

*On a side note, I can certainly understand the dobro being classified as a folk instrument. Without going into a deep discussion of what Folk music specifically IS as well as its history, suffice it to say that I guess ALL instruments of the stringed variety are “folk” instruments. And all that said, Domenic’s music would most likely be considered “Folk Rock” or as he says, “Cosmic Rock’n’Roll for the Soul.”

We had a good laugh about it and the thoughts kept stewing in my noggin. And then Dom had a t-shirt made that gave a name to our new movement…F**k You, I’m Folk. That phrase hilariously sums up all the frustration and the resignation to what I find an interesting subject. Yes, we are most certainly Americana. But technically aren’t jazz, blues, zydeco and even rap? It just seems like such a BROAD generalization and the grouping with Folk seems a bit odd to me.

So why talk about this now, years later? I’ll tell you why gentle reader. Because recently, another incident came up that made me think about what the differences actually are. But first a little back story…

On our last trip to New Orleans this past fall, we introduced our new sound which we are calling, The Recessionaires featuring Dave B. driving the rhythm section with his slaps and popping of strings. Born out of necessity on the road during these tough economic times, we’ve stripped the band of drums for our smaller shows, a la Wayne Hancock who totally rocks this style. Our intention was not to change the sound of the band so drastically that our status as a “dance band” would be affected and so far we’ve gotten a positive response. In a look to the future with a simultaneous nod to the past, we’re taking things back to the real roots of the style with great songs and solid playing. It has been a highly rewarding decision all around in choosing to experiment with this new “drummed down” sound. Here’s a video of us debuting this sound at Mimi’s in the Marigny in New Orleans, taken by Andrew Evans, Nat Geo’s roving blogger.

A couple of weeks ago we showed up to a gig in California without drums and a comment was later made that we had scared the promoter half to death. He’d heard the band before WITH drums and thought we were going to “Folk Out” on his dance night. I wish I’d had Domenic’s t-shirt on that night!

After hearing a few songs he quickly felt relief and mentioned that he didn’t even miss the drums. Which is a comment we’ve been getting a lot. Nothing against you drummers out there, but y’all are LOUD. Which is why we’ll reserve our use of drums for festivals and larger rooms and stages like Rock ‘n’ Bowl and Tipitina’s in New Orleans. And because I truly do believe that we’re stuck being categorized where we are for quite some time, I will embrace it and proudly announce to world…F**k You, I’m Folk.