New Music for 2015!

Welcome Peeps!

Welcome to the official site of New Orleans' own heavy blues band JMMBs. The new record "Never Trust The Living" was recorded studio live in the heat of the summer and just came out in 2015.

If you saw us recently and could not tip due to your mind being blown (HAHAHA)...feel free here!


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Road to the New Record

Recording at the Music Shed for "Never Trust the Living" 

TIME STAMP: New Orleans end of July 2014.

2 sweaty days in the lower garden district recording live for the new release. The Music Shed  was an ideal place and provided an old school live sound. No headphones, isolation, or fancy or dirty tricks...Just 4 guys (and a few cases of the Original) getting together in a big room and playing some music while Ben Lorio and his boys record the results. The sound at the Music Shed was wide-open and fat with the harmonica bouncing all around the place, The band hit their stride by the second day and as usual got better as the session went on. We have not recorded like this since 2004 Black Album done at Glen Nishida's Pacifica Studios in LA, The biggest challenge was getting everyone comfortable with the situation. First, because the sound they are hearing is really different than at a live gig. Secondly, with the fact that when recording live there is the fear of hitting a clam and ruining a take! Rob Lee was a total pro on drums and sounded awesome throughout and with Dean Zucchero on bass it was an unbelievable session.  In the end , it has what I was looking for: an old school room sound with open sounding drums and kind of natural, big and raw sounding guitars and harp.

The Move to New Orleans - Part IV - Local Saviors 

Living in the 9th ward shows a whole other side to the city I fell for and things can get pretty sketchy with serious issues day to day with race, guns, crime, poverty and weather,  Really a few of the local bands saved me from going crazy for the first 6 months. Chris Polacek and his Hubcap Kings started hiring me as a sideman and we were really busy for my first year here. Not once did I hear the guys in the band gripe about the light money getting even lighter with me joining the band. Not once.  I really owe Chris and Andy Rogers big time and I had a blast blowing on their spaced out blues trips.

King James & the Specialmen are and were my escape every Monday night at BJs and provide a sound like an old 45 from Cosimo Matassa's studio. Such discipline and respect for the old New Orleans RnB is rare especially without being stiff and too reverent like a lot of white musicians, They know what they are doing and its a trip watching them grow and the young people digging them so much.

And finally the brass bands blow my mind almost daily and I really am listening to the horn players for their phrasing and their sound,  There is nothing more hair raising than a street brass band blowing and swinging with a bunch maniacs parading behind them around the streets of New Orleans.  It has to be experienced first hand and I cannot really explain the feeling I get. I guess it's similar to the "tight stomach" feeling you got when you went to parades as a kid. The chops these horn players develop come from blowing so hard and long on those second lines, just sheer power.  Right now Kenny Terry is my favorite horn man, (he has a roughness I love) and I am toying with the idea of getting a shirt that says "President - Kenny Terry Fan Club".

Boudin Session Lafayette, LA  

In the Spring of 2014 we traveled to LA Spice studios in Lafayette to record some new songs and help studio owner Mark Anzalone work out some technical issues.  He had recently bought a new board and wanted to have a live band play and check out the process.  The initial goal on our end was to get a few songs for an EP. What ended up happening was we worked out some of the new material and this session was really a demo session for the new record.  I could hear where some of the songs needed to be punched up or arrangements needed to be adjusted.  It was a real fun session with Louisiana Music Hall of Famer David Hyde on bass and Andy Rogers on drums, Mark and Sammy Holbrook engineered and brought the battle of Boudin to the kitchen as we tried their favorite cajun country sausages ( Nunu's maybe edged out the competition but thats another story). Smoke and me hung out for another few days and overdubbed and mixed and had more boudin. Maybe we can release 1 song or 2 from this session on a Captain Trappiste volume.

Preparing for a recording date. 

Sometimes just going into the studio COLD is fruitful and spontaneous, but it can also be an expensive experiment gone awry if things don't go well.  We almost always record live and like this last record, no isolation or fixes which adds to the rolling of the dice effect.  It is very possible to have musicians lose it, computers constantly crashing, engineers with crazy ideas, bad headphone mixes, and sometimes the band (or is it me) just sounds off.  Nowadays we try to prepare and "feel out" those involved ahead of time to minimize problems and get something useful.  The concept that "recording does not lie and what you put down is how you sound" is true and hard to swallow for a lot of musicians,  That;s one reason I tape the band quite a bit to correct any stuff before going into the trenches.  I have been physically ill over the years listening to how I really sound and better to know where you are than being "shocked" come recording time.

First thing I do is try to get the songs together.  What demos do we have from last session? What riffs can we use to form songs? What stuff that works live should we try out? What lyrics are new or unused?  Its not rocket science or too serious, most of our songs are pretty crude compared to most comparisons. But they have to be honest and almost always come from 2 extremes: real day to day life or fantasies.  Smoke will have some grooves and we get together and see what lyrics work with some of his stuff and just hash it out.

Next I try to work out our little arrangements and absorb the song so its natural. However I don't want it to be too rehearsed so when its sounding ok I usually move on so there is some freshness. I also try to always bring a few unrehearsed grooves or songs in and just jam them with the band.  Never tell what you can get!

Finally, I choose and get the right sequence of songs and try to envision the session going well. I used to try to envision how the album will sound but it always seems to come out different than what I planned,  So I have gotten more relaxed about it and just let things happen when we finally get in there.  
So it can be a challenge to capture the rawness and feeling of a live band, but that's what I go for but do not always achieve. I think this time we did. 

The Move to New Orleans - Part III - New Arrivals 

Living in New Orleans is like living in another world in a lot of ways. It's kinda isolated down here and very european for an american city. There is a lot of love and magic here and things just "seem to happen" more than in any place I have ever seen.  It also reminds me of a 3rd world country in some respects with its roads, poverty and challenged infrastructure.  But like all things in life, to have all the good, there has to be some bad to balance it out.  The bad is not on the surface and living here does expose things you don't see just as a tourist.  But I did expect that.

Unlike a lot of musicians (mainly young) who come here to New Orleans for their break or want to be part of the scene, I had done quite a bit of work over almost 20 years as a professional musician already.  We had built a big fan base on the west coast as well as in europe and done 10 records.  I had done 250+ gigs a year for a 10 year stretch and worked really hard at the business of playing and keeping gigs. I saw a scene rise and fall a few times and watched LA area clubs close up and not be replaced.  In europe we had to translate our music for the bigger stages and keep audiences coming back, 

However, we never really toured through the USA that much because we were always pretty busy on the West coast. Really we are unknowns, which actually has been a positive.  So our situation is quite different and it took some getting used to being lumped in with the newcomers.  But I think its here for everyone and the fans and the people have been great.  Especially the locals and native New Orleanians. My biggest concern was will the people here dig our style? So far so good.


The Move to New Orleans - Part II - Roosters and Subwoofers 

This is one loud and wild place!  People drive kinda wild, the neighborhood kids are wild, the streets are missing a lot of signs, the weather is wild and people blast hiphop at unbelievable low frequency decibels. Furthermore, there are all kinds of subtropic insects and spiders and there are the roosters.

I never thought about roosters much until I moved into the 9th ward,  They live under the house, roost in our tree in the backyard, and devour any food left for Checkers the feral cat we inherited with the house.  The sound they make early morning, (separated only by 1/2 inch of planked floor boards) can only be described as demonic.  Really some of the most harrowing sounds from the depths of hell.   Of course this took some getting used to as we had no idea this was just how it is here,  The rooster families come and go and we have watched many grow up and move where I have no idea.  Also some early morning raids on roosting families by loose pitbulls has thinned the herd a bit as well as some entrepreneurs with traps capturing some of them.  They were not always here and people told us it is post-katrina phenomena, maybe even loose fighting cocks that adapted to our street. 

Anyway they are a big part of our neighborhood and we made them part of the artwork for the new record. 

The Move to New Orleans - Part I - Double Nickels on the Dime 

I'd been coming to New Orleans since 1989 when the French Quarter Festival was just one or two stages! Like a lot of natural relationships, I didn't like New Orleans right away.  But over time I did become seduced by the city. This was mainly due to the beautiful people, street culture, European feel and overall vibe of the city. I started to picture New Orleans as an exotic experienced woman, waiting to be discovered, Before Katrina, I got married here on the Mississippi River and had Treme Brass Band (with Uncle Lionel and Kenny Terry) as our wedding band.

But by 2013, our LA band needed a new home base.  And in New Orleans I could really check out the horn players and live in a place steeped in musical traditions like the Mardis Gras Indians and Second Lines. Furthermore, my sister lived here, working as a DJ for WWOZ, and really backed our move,

So, under the cover of darkness we sold our van and packed up the house (with cats and amplifiers) and drove route 10 West to New Orleans, arriving in six days. The last few days in Long Beach were a whirlwind with many friends stopping over pitching for "one last party."  Even the night before we left, White Boy James broke into our house and woke us at 2 am to say goodbye.  Love that kind of dedication!

The 1900 mile (3050 km) drive was wild with a fully packed 24 foot truck towing our car and with two cats in the cab. "Double nickels on the dime" (thanks, Smoke and the Minutemen) was our theme, because if we went over 55 mph the truck started shaking uncontrollably. Texas was frightening with its high winds, the constant high speed  semis passing us and dogs sniffing all around our vehicle.

Frazzled, we made it anyway and were greeted at our new 9th Ward location with both welcomes and cold stares.  But we soon figured out, that's just how this neighborhood rolls.  Our New Orleans adventure had begun!

Back in 2010, I drove to the Sunset Strip and pitched a reality show called  "Blues Warriors" to a successful reality show producer. It would follow the band around on all its adventures as it tried to make a living making music.  I guess the crazy and ridiculous adventures on the road were not enough of a draw and it was shot down in a matter of seconds!  Anyway, the name lives on and we now use it to refer to our musical family and fans. I guess its for people who like rough and honest music from the heart and want to be part of JMMBs trip through the melodic universe.

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