A few words in favor of Norco Lapalco

The following was written after a show on the weekend of Nov.16,2011 in New Orleans.

Somewhere between 1991-2 I was living in an apartment in the house of Klezmer All-Stars accordionist, Glenn Hartman. One night my friend, Ben Ellman, called to say he wanted some help to work out some lines on a cassette tape by a band he was going to do a gig with. At that time, Ben was playing with the Little Rascals Brass band. We had been hanging around some other places besides the golden Treme hotspots of that time- Pepinas, and Lucky's are particularly memorable backdrops, but there were others.

The cassette had a band called Lump on it. I remember thinking immediately that they had come up with some really wild lines. They would play in unison, fast, and the drum sound was really energetic and all over the place, but kept the energy at a fantastically manic level. They would rapidly change into these odd time slow sections and then declaim some really strange sounding stuff that I hadn't worked out yet. Ben mentioned that they were into a lot of interesting creative funk and jazz players (style naming is such a drag) that I also had special affection for- James "Blood" Ulmer etc.

Lump is in the past, yet the excitement, and particular emotional and conscious oulook they portrayed, stick firmly in the heads of those of us that used to see them- often by accident. One of the main features was the singular lyrics that spanned subjects from Deuteronomy to Delfayo Marsalis. Usually the music would suddenly move from the aforementioned instrumental outbreaks into these wild declamations penned by Lou Thevenot.

Going on about Lump is missing the point for some, who feel that you are nowhere without solid experience of some previous work of that band's members...but, I wasn't there. Some of these old, wizened, folks were in the audience at the Mermaid reunion show at Hi-Ho where Norco Lapalco showed up and became the stimulus for this ramble. The band really put those discussions of the past- in the past pretty quickly. In fact, not showing up with Lump (and it was probably requested) was a solid statement in itself, since they had been an early Mermaid Lounge scene staple. Norco Lapalco wasn't even a fleck in a dry imagination at that point in history.

If you are in New Orleans- you need to go out and see this group. Their stuff is really together. It drips authentic experience and Lou has always been a safeguard against pandering bullshit...so you are out of danger...that one anyway. This is really original music and it gets you in a mysterious part of the pelvis that hasn't been much written of in the yards of writing on rhythmic music. It's exciting in as much as it changes direction frequently, rapidly,unexpectedly, and yet the lyrics hang there mysteriously, well heard. (Did I mention the hot lead singer?) These are songs about what is actually happening and that provides a relief from the endless proliferation of solipsistic, escapist, pop-allegoricism that people seem to endlessly want to hang their songwriting clevernesses on. These are, after all, viscerally, fragmenting times and it's sad to see most young musical folks around New Orleans regurgitating music so old that it has no relevance except as a way to pull dimes out of misguided tourists.

This, on the other hand, is a band speaking from their time and place with a writer who doesn't beat around the bush with any of those folksy, saccharine singer/songwriter clevernesses, or cliche rock heroics. He plays guitar in a real interesting way too- as does the other guitarist. These days too many people are trying to play in standardized ways that descend from whomever they think is legit. (Did I mention the singers?-very penetrating...) It's time for more emotional experience. Go get it at a Norco Lapalco show.