Billy Iuso & Restless Natives
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Billy Iuso & Restless Natives

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Band R&B Funk

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CD REVIEW On his latest CD Restless Natives New Orleans transplant Billy Iuso seems to have matured greatly. 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 the music, combining an impressive breadth of original compositions with 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 (juice) on guitar, and Chris Marsceill on keys, and a large 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 like to original, reminding me 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 Shallows" 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 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 take the song to the streets and give 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 autowah guitar fit perfectly together, giving the lyrics a chance to shine forth and the song a chance to breathe. Iuso's time spent in New Orleans comes through in "The Heavy," a dark funk tune drive 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 is strays from the original into dark and funky territory, and does it 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 (Dumpsta Funk) 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 he rocks. But don't tell him I said so - jAMBASE


Discography

RESTLESS NATIVES 2004
WHEN CAN I COME HOME ..LIVE 2006
PARADISE LOST AND FOUND 2008

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About Billy Iuso & Restless Natives
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 30s, 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 2007, leading the critically-acclaimed Restless Natives, it’s clear that Iuso possesses that special something to 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 summer. Bringing the sounds of a career spent in music to the masses is Billy Iuso’s mission … don’t miss the opportunity to be inspired.