Interview with Josh Cohen & Ryan Scully of The Morning 40 Federation

Apologies for the long layoff...

This interview was done very late at night on Oct 24, 2014 at Alex Mcmurray's house.  

The Morning 40 Federation are a band that has great resonance with a certain swath of New Orleans locals who see in them the embodiment of a certain set of life experiences that very definitely were in fast effect at one time in New Orleans and in a long gone era of a certain way that Bywater used to look.  The reflections from that are still reverberating strongly and the mighty 40s continue on once in a while.  As we find out here, they are still writing.

Ryan Scully is a fascinating music writer that I've been trying to catch up with for an interview since the 90s.  Currently he is also fronting another interesting band, Scully and the Rough 7.

Josh Cohen is a saxophone player and writer for the 40s as well as being crafty in some other areas and, really quite philosophical.  

These folks have amazing insight into the old problem of the correspondence between life and music and of the folks I have interviewed, say some of the most unexpectedly profound things on the subject.

Alex Mcmurray is often involved in what sometimes becomes a quite multi-layered discussion.

Part 1

how the 40s met; starting to write songs; experience of New Orleans; relationship between origins and musical content; Irving Berlin; the Rough 7 and backup singers; The beginning of the Morning 40 Federation; the first 40s tour and delusions of grandeur;  the Attack Family; the concept behind the 40s; what was appealing to Scully about the band; I Aint Really Alright; subconscious access to material; dangers of becoming formulaic; Scully’s function; traditional music as a binding factor

Part 2

Listening to Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly; earliest music appreciations; the way ideas move through the 40s; song rejection; mcmurray talks of songs with the 40s; mother-in-law; how the music makes people react; Ebola? (too soon?); lifestyle descriptions in the songs; Morning 40 style; Funkadelic; the olfactory sense; discovering Nirvana and liberation by record store; Josh and binaural beats; Scully’s other material outside the 40s; whether the band broke up because of problems between Scully and Josh; how members have come in and out of the band; financing of recordings; how the music has changed over the years; songs about age; prog rock math rock vs. minimal type etceteras; josh expresses himself.







Happy Talk with Luke Allen, songwriter/bandleader

Luke Allen is the leader of an interesting local New Orleans group, The Happy Talk Band.  He writes in a style unlike anyone else in town.  He has a generous, though un-imposing, personality and this comes through well in his songs.  In this conversation he explains a lot of where he came from and uncovers some connections between his life travels and New Orleans residency and how those things impact his songwriting.

The interview was conducted where he felt at home, Markey's Bar in the Bywater.  There is background noise from the conversationalists and jukebox but it provides a nice backdrop for Luke's lively conversation.


Part 1- Where he came from, Salinas, Santa Cruz; how he came to New Orleans and why;  how he started writing his own material; where the dark themed songs come from; playing music before Happy Talk; how The Happy Talk Band formed; how the band name came about.

Part 2- Playing with Bailey and relationship with The Morning 40 Federation; gaining a following and seeing people in the audience starting to know his songs; Checkpoint Charlie's, Hi-Ho Lounge, Matador, Circle Bar, Kelly Keller; how he chose the kind of music to go behind his songs; the stylistic influences on his sound; his difficulties with recording and playing live; the band's recording history; working with Mike West; interest in other types of writing and the impact on his songwriting; his writing process; audience response to The Happy Talk Band; desired future directions in music; being a bartender and his views of the profession; his views on New Orleans and changes over the years; what he's liked in music in New Orleans and what he's liked about the city.