Hoodoo Groove
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Hoodoo Groove

Band Jazz Funk


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The best kept secret in music


"Hoodoo Groove to Headline Taste of Culver"

6-30-06 If it weren't for hurricane Katrina, there would be no Hoodoo Groove. The most horrific natural disaster in recent American memory has produced many unique and interesting stories, and the events that led from Katrina to the creation of New Orleans-style jazzy funk band, Hoodoo Groove, make up one of those stories. The band will headline this year's Taste of Culver festival in downtown Culver on Saturday, July 8, from 11am to 2pm, on Main Street in front of the Culver-Union Twp. Public Library. The library is organizing and sponsoring the event.

Chris Oliver, saxophone player and founder of Hoodoo Groove, was born and raised in New Orleans. After attending Loyola University, where he studied music, he began playing in and around the New Orleans area. Oliver and his family moved to Indiana three years ago, which is where he met Chicago-born Justin Ross, currently a jazz guitar instructor at Culver Academies and an up-and-coming guitarist who was educated in at Berkeley College of Music in Boston (where he earned his degree in jazz guitar) and honed his skills in the jazz clubs of his native Chicago before coming to Culver. Oliver introduced Ross to Mark Gamble, whose main occupation was (and is) playing trumpet for popular South Bend area blues band, the Whistle Pigs.

After a stint in Indiana, Chris Oliver returned to New Orleans, intending to further develop his musical career there...but that was before Katrina hit. Once the storm devastated the Crescent City, Oliver and his family found themselves facing a crisis of place: where and how to live. So they returned to Indiana. From there, Oliver contacted the current band members and they began to play together informally, adding drummer Steve Krojo, once a member of South Bend band Ali Baba's Tahini. Matt Miles, a South Bend native, joined the group on bass guitar. With the addition of Steve and Brian Pierce, who handle the sound board duties, a solid group was forming.

The name, "Hoodoo Groove," was a natural choice for the group: a tribute to the New Orleans roots not only of the group's founder and sax player, but the jazz-tinged funk style of the music. "Hoodoo," for the musically and culturally uninformed, is a brand of folk philosophy and medicine steeped in the Voodoo traditions of Haiti, which were imported to the New Orleans area as people of mixed French and African descent fled the island for greener pastures to the north in the form of the bustling port city of New Orleans, in the 19th century. The culture, language, and musical influences of these -- and other -- diverse peoples helped form the musical culture from which jazz evolved, and jazz and blues throughout the 20th century have included references to the mysterious powers of "Hoodoo" men and women and their potions and spells.

Asked what Taste of Culver attendees can expect to hear on July 8, guitarist Justin Ross explained that the band has "an eclectic style. Our roots are New Orleans jazz and funk, but you'll also hear some reggae, lots of 1970s funk. You might hear something along the lines of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, then some 70s soul and reggae, to swing, to a blues shuffle that you might hear on Bourbon Street...the horns are definitely front-line, and there's definitely a jazz influence. Both Chris (Oliver) and I have degrees in jazz, and Mark Gamble's first love is jazz."

The band has gone over quite well and venues such as the Seahorse in South Bend and the Mishawaka Brewing Company, and it looks as if they're headed for bigger venues and greater exposure.

Some of that exposure, at least locally, will take place at the Taste of Culver, where the band's music can be heard throughout the 11am to 3pm hours of the festival. They will be playing onstage at the north end of the festival on Main Street, outside the Culver-Union Twp. Public Library in downtown Culver. For more information, interested persons are encouraged to contact the library at (574) 842-2941, aheath@culver.lib.in.us, or visit the library's web-site at www.culver.lib.in.us - WTCA-Kathy Bottorff


Hoodoo Groove: "Live at the Brew Pub"


Feeling a bit camera shy


Hoodoo Groove first came together after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina when saxophonist Chris Olivier found himself uprooted from New Orleans and relocated to Northern Indiana. Bassist Matt Miles contacted his old friend Olivier to welcome him back. During that call, Matt and Chris agreed that they still shared a common love of music and decided it was time to embark on a new musical endeavor. Olivier dialed up trumpet player Mark Gamble and guitarist Justin Ross, members of his Chicago Jazz Project and they immediately signed on. Matt called Steve Krojniewski, a dynamic drummer who had played with Ali Baba’s Tahini, and the concept for Hoodoo Groove was born.

The group immediately discovered that they had a unique chemistry. What formed from their union is a five-piece, high energy, groove-oriented collection of musicians. With an eclectic style that ranges from New Orleans funk to reggae to jazz-fusion, they keep the listeners’ eyes and ears open in anticipation of more.