Billy Iuso and the Restless Natives
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Billy Iuso and the Restless Natives

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"About Billy Iuso"

Billy Iuso is an accomplished, professional musician - a soulful songwriter, a dynamic vocalist and a powerful guitarist - whose time has arrived. Though still in his 30's, the New Orleans-based performer has been a bandleader for more than 20 years, and as such, his musicianship and abilities have a certain polish and maturity that true music aficionados look for in artists. As he moves into the future, leading the critically-acclaimed Restless Natives, it's clear that Iuso possesses that special something t o take his band to the next level - an "it" factor that cannot simply be acquired. After leading the highly-popular Brides of Jesus for more than a decade, Iuso [guitar, vocals] came to a decision to make a change shortly after releasing the third Brides album, "Saints and Sinners," in the fall of 2002. With the Brides, Iuso had toured and played with some of the biggest names at the forefront of the so-called "Jam-Band" movement of the 1990's, including the Dave Matthews Band, Widespread Panic, George Clinton and the Funky Meters. After fine-tuning their sound and chemistry in post-Katrina New Orleans, Billy Iuso & Restless Natives will begin touring the country aggressively this year. Bringing the sounds of a career spent in music to the masses as Billy Iuso's mission ... don't miss the opportunity to be inspired. - www.billyiuso.com


"Billy Iuso Restless Natives CD"

On his latest CD Restless Natives New Orleans transplant Billy Iuso seems to have matured quite a bit. By focusing on songwriting and structure rather than lengthy jams that go nowhere, Iuso has crafted a nice collection of songs – a wonderful accomplishment from a member of the New Orleans jam-oriented community. He recently told me, "I'm not trying to be a 'rock star' anymore." This new, laid back, attitude shines through in the music, combining an impressive breadth of original compositions with some interesting covers. For this latest project, Iuso's Restless Natives consist of some of New Orleans' top (if not nationally known) musicians. The core band consists of Iuso on guitar and vocals, "Mean" Willie Green (Neville Brothers) on drums, Mark Pero (Papa Grows Funk) on bass, Sam Hotchkiss (New Orleans Juice) on guitar and Chris Marsceill on keys. In addition to the band, a wide array of New Orleans musicians make appearances throughout.

Iuso is cut from the "Peace through Music" cloth, an ideal which shines through in the opener, a cover of Wet Willie's "Keep on Smiling." The opening tune adds vocalist Shannon McNally and has a definite Southern tone just like the original, reminding listeners of smoky juke joints as well as sunny day outdoor festivals. In a word, it is "happy." What can I say? I like happy.

The next tune, an original named "Two Deep in the Shadows" is a swamp-a-delic rendezvous that glides down smooth and mellow. Iuso's maturing songwriting skills allow the song to feel funky but not forced. Chris Marsceill takes center stage on "Come C New Orleans," a Professor Longhair-inspired instrumental tune which would be a hit at any Carnival party. The Natives take on Little Feat's "Spanish Moon" is simply wonderful. The horn section, consisting of Kirk Joseph (Dirty Dozen) on sousaphone, Mark Mullins (Bonerama) on trombone and Satoru Ohashi (New Orleans Nightcrawlers) on trumpet, takes the song to the streets and gives it a Crescent City feel. Tamika Jett's added vocals lend some soul that fills in the sound.

"Your Just a Memory" follows. The simple song structure and heavy use of the wah-wah pedal fit perfectly together, giving the lyrics a chance to shine through and the song a chance to breathe. Iuso's time spent in New Orleans comes through in "The Heavy," a dark funk tune driven by clavinet and Ryan Plattsmier's (The Public) bass work. An interesting cover of the Grateful Dead's "The Other One" follows. I call it interesting because it strays from the original into dark and funky territory, and it does so very well.

Taking a quick left turn into instrumental jazz territory, "Da Minor Jam" features Pero's bass and drummer Bryan Besse trading licks back and forth in a tasteful show of talent. Nori Naraoka (Big Sam's Funky Nation) joins on bass as Iuso remains in mellow jazz mode for the final cut entitled "Candle," a ballad that rounds out and winds down the project. Not to leave on a mellow note, Iuso recruits Ivan Neville (Ivan Neville) and Russell Batiste (Funky Meters) for the "bonus" cut "Runnin' High," a straight-ahead funk romp that reminds me why I like Iuso's music in the first place - because he rocks!

-Jeffrey Dupuis - JamBase


"Billy Iuso Restless Natives (Independent)"

Any record that opens with a spirited cover of Wet Willie's bar-band classic "Keep on Smiling" has already hooked me. Thankfully, former Brides Of Jesus frontman Billy Iuso's solo debut Restless Natives is just vibrant enough to keep reeling me in.

Iuso has a huge backup band for the record featuring a virtual Who's Who of up-and-coming faces on the New Orleans roots music scene (including one Russell Batiste, Jr., on drums and one Ivan Neville on electric piano). With that kind of talent on his side, not to mention that Iuso is a quite talented guitarist and singer in his own right, Restless Natives certainly showcases high-caliber New Orleans musical chops in a loose, jamband environment.

At times, it can be too loose, as the record loses some steam and lulls in the middle. But Iuso's claim on his web site that he and his former band were pioneers of modern New Orleans funk-rock is pretty well-founded here, as the tunes here are much fresher than a lot of other current stoned-groove funk.

The highlights here include the jazz-inflected "Candle" and "Two Deep in the Shallows," a groovy little number that sounds a bit like Phish being possessed by the spirit of George MacRae. And with enough push, the track "Come C New Orleans" (which nearly quotes Professor Longhair's piano hook in "Big Chief, Pt. 1") could very well become a new Carnival time fave.

03.2005 -Jeremy J. Deibel - Offbeat Magazine


"Bio"

After leading the critically claimed Brides of Jesus for over a decade, front man and songwriter Billy Iuso (guitar, vocals) came to a decision to make a change shortly after releasing the third Brides album "Saints and Sinners” in the fall of 2002 due to the unavailability of other members of BOJ due to their other musical commitments.

With the Brides, Iuso had toured and played with some of the biggest names in the forefront of the Jam-Band movement in the 90's. His high energy mix of funk, roots rock with an occasional eclectic cover left deep impressions on those who saw them. On one occasion Iuso was told bluntly by Dave Matthews that, "You guys are one of the few opening acts I've ever remembered."

The Restless Natives became a solid project when drummer Bryan Besse was brought in full time Unlike the Brides' rotating Drum throne , "Mean" Willie Green (Neville Brothers) and Russell Batiste (Funky Meters, Vida Blue). Bryan brought his recent found love of Elvin Jones polyrhythms to the table yet didn't ignore his old Rock love of a John Bonham backbeat and of course the New Orleans Street beat.

Using Musicians from both the funk and jazz scene, the Natives' sound continues to evolve into a new hybrid of improvisation based music. A typical show brings together Keith Jarrett inspired keyboard runs surrounded by a sonic environment that remains accessible while pushing the line towards the abstract. Original songs subtly change to one of many eclectic covers, the seamless flow pushed by dynamic funky drum beats.

Recent highlights of the Natives include a stellar show at Tipitina's that featured Papa Grows Funk's Marc Pero on bass with Russell Batiste or Mean Willie Green on a drum set, late night jams in the French Quarter with the likes of the Grateful Deads own Bobby Weir in the audience and bringing the patio bar at House of Blues to a second-line sing-a-long on Mardi Gras Day. - JamBase


Discography

Paradise Lost and Found (2008)
When Can I Come Home (2006)
Restless Natives (2004)

Photos

Bio

Booking by:

Jason Clark
The Nola Soul Agency
512.795.9884
jason@nolasoul.com

Billy Iuso was born on January 26, 1969 in Port Chester, New York. While being born an Aquarian during "the age of Aquarius" didn't pre-determine his destiny in music, Billy, like so many other children of his time was weaned on the changing culture and the music that symbolized it.

His Mom and Dad were at Woodstock and early on, Billy was constantly hearing the likes of Joe Cocker, Van Morrison, The Band and of course The Grateful Dead. But, in particular, even though he was living in the Northeast, was exposed to the Southern Rock bands of the early 70's...i.e. The Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker, Wet Willie. Also the New York Radio stations playing the funky soulful sounds of Sly and the Family Stone, James Brown, Jackson Five, and Marvin Gaye etc. All of the music, influenced but did not define where Billy was heading.

From age 8-15, Bill moved around a lot with his mother, he lived in Ohio, Miami FL and Houston TX. He received his first guitar as a present from his dad at the age of 13. But it wasn't until he moved back to Northeast at 15 , that he taught himself how to play the guitar and discovered that his recently changed voice had a "guttural" singing quality to it.

Billy formed his first band in 1986 at 17, not surprisingly it was a Grateful Dead "cover" band called Euphoria. They were quite successful in and around the New England area, even playing the opening week for the now defunct Wetlands NYC, the first club dedicated to this genre of jam music. Gradually moving from imitation to emulation Billy inserted a couple of his originals into the set. However, again not surprisingly, like so many other successful cover bands, Billy had the urge to create and play his own music.

So in 1989, Billy told his dad " don't waste your money on sending me to college" and moved to Providence, RI to seek a city /college town to spawn his music. Then he formed the now critically acclaimed "Brides of Jesus" playing music at the forefront of his musical genre that came to be known as the Jam-Band movement.

Billy Iuso And Restless Natives
In the early 90's Billy had his "ups", opening for the likes of Dave Matthews, Widespread Panic, George Clinton, Funky Meters. And his "downs", living in his rehearsal space because he couldn't afford a separate place to live and a place to practice and opted for the latter. Through the ups and downs, coming and goings of band members, and relocating to Athens, Georgia, Billy remained true to a high energy mix of funk and roots rock in his writing, vocals and playing.

In 1994, Billy released the first Brides CD " What's Going to Set You Free" with acclaimed Allman Brothers producer Johnny Sandlin. While in Athens Billy and the Brides toured constantly all over the country with headlining and opening slots building his career. One of the most influential bands which they opened for on many occasions were the Meters, which built a friendship and a bond that linked him to his new home the Crescent City.

Billy moved to New Orleans in early 1997, here Billy recorded the second Brides CD For Real. After touring constantly for nearly four years Billy had an opportunity to stage manage for The Meters, Neville Brothers, and Vida Blue (Phish's Page McConnell side project) which in turn put his own musical career on the back burner.

Still playing a few Brides shows here and there, Billy released the third Brides CD Saints and Sinners in 2002 and returned to the touring circuit. Wanting a change and due to the unavailability of other members of BOJ due to their other musical commitments, Billy decided to go solo. His new self titled CD Restless Natives is a collection of new and unrecorded originals and a few choice covers that don¹t confine him to the Jam funk style that the Brides are known for.

Billy continues to perform as Billy Iuso and the Restless Natives with a familiar ever-changing cast of characters, 'Mean' Willie Green, Bryan Besse, Marc Pero, Ryan Plattsmier, and Chris Marsciel, Sam Hothckiss and others.

Recent highlights of the Natives include a stellar show at Tipitina's that featured Russell Batiste on a second drum set, late night jams in the French Quarter with the likes of the Grateful Dead's own Bobby Weir in the audience, and bringing the patio bar at House of Blues to a second-line sing-a-long on Mardi Gras Day.