New Orleans Rhythm Conspiracy
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New Orleans Rhythm Conspiracy


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"New Orleans Rhythm Conspiracy, Dancin' Ground"

CD Review
A number of New Orleans bands were torn apart by Hurricane Katrina, but some hot new ensembles were born from the ranks of the displaced. One example is the New Orleans Rhythm Conspiracy, formed in Memphis after the storm by current and former members of Walter "Wolfman" Washington's Roadmasters and other exiled denizens of the Big Easy music scene. By the time bassist Jack Cruz, drummer Wilbert "Junkyard Dog" Arnold, guitarist George Sartin (formerly of Cyril Neville's Uptown Allstars), and writer/activist Sally Stevens recorded the band's debut album, "Dancin' Ground", New Orleans legends like Washington, Ivan Neville, percussionist Uganda Roberts, and the Wild Tchoupitoulas and Golden Comanche Mardi Gras Indians had joined the creative process.
Like the city it celebrates, "Dancin' Ground", is hot funky and irresistable. Cruz wrote or co-wrote many of the songs and his thumping bass propels the disc, particularly on the slinky "Skeleton City", where he's joined by Washington on guitar. The wild horns of Roadmasters past and present (David Woodard on trombone, Jimmy Carpenter on sax) announce the opener, "In This World", sweetened by B-3 and propelled by Arnold's unmistakable beats. Marilyn Barbarin, a member of another illustrious New Orleans family (and Arnold's wife), sings with conviction on the groovy "Just Like That" and her own "Tell Us the Truth". Wild Tchoupitoulas Big Chief Rodderick Sylvas and Golden Comanche Spy Boy Juan Pardo chant the title song's life-affirming message, while the final track, Pardo's "Down to the Hole", celebrates a chief's funeral. Both songs have a spooky and compelling New Orleans vibe.
The record hits its apex with a new version of Cruz and Washington's "Blue Moon Rising", with Spencer Bohren's gorgeous lap steel and a heartbreaking vocal by Tyrone Pollard, a local hero who now lives in Baton Rouge. Pollard sings the sad song's new, post-Katrina verse as a lament for the home to which he still hasn't returned.
Kay Cordtz - BLUES REVUE Magazine, Nov. 07

"Riverboat Get-Down"

A riverboat get-down

New Orleans band teams with Mardi Gras Indians
Published 5/24/2007
As Riverfest’s 30th birthday bash starts winding down its opening night Friday, another cultural celebration kicks into gear. The Arkansas Queen riverboat will play host to Rhythm and Cruise, a party and concert featuring the sounds of the New Orleans Rhythm Conspiracy and a rare-outside-of-New-Orleans appearance by a collection of Mardi Gras Indians. The boat will board at 10 p.m. and depart at 11 p.m.

Born in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the Rhythm Conspiracy aims to pay tribute to New Orleans’ storied musical tradition through a gumbo of funk, soul and R&B. Bassist Jack Cruz, who’s played with everyone from James Booker to Mighty Sam McClain, started the band with fellow musicians George Sartin and Sally Stevens during their time as displaced New Orleanians living in Memphis. After adding three more players into the mix, the band released its debut album, “Dancin’ Ground,” earlier this year. That title is the translation of “Tchoupitoulas,” the Native American name for New Orleans.

Several members of the Wild Tchoupitoulas Mardi Gras Indian tribe performed on “Dancin’ Ground” and will be on hand on Friday night. A uniquely New Orleans tradition, Mardi Gras Indians (who are African Americans) dress in bright, flamboyant costumes and chant, sing and dance in honor of Native Americans who once sheltered runaway slaves. Traditionally, the Indians sew their own costumes in preparation for Carnival season, employing elaborate and expansive bead and feather work that can bulk an outfit to over 100 pounds (surely, a young George Clinton drew inspiration from a Mardi Gras Indian).

Mardi Gras, for the tribes, has always been about competition. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, they sometimes worked out rivalries through violence. Today, for the more than 30 “Black Indian Tribes,” it’s all about looking right and representing for the culture. After Katrina, they’ve gotten wider media exposure and have even seen old costumes land in museum exhibits. Still, a chance to see an Indian in full regalia outside of New Orleans (or even in New Orleans outside of Mardi Gras) doesn’t come along that often.

Wild Man John Ellis and Big Chief Roderick Sylvas of the Wild Tchoupitoulas will join Spy Boy Juan Pardo of the Golden Commanches to accompany the band on the Arkansas Queen.

Rhythm and Cruise is the first event from Arkansas Convention and Event Marketing, a new company that aims to bring New Orleans music and culture to Arkansas. Company president John McClure says he hopes to import what New Orleanians do best: throw a party.

“Any vibrant city needs to have events to attract young people, and that’s one of the things that New Orleans has traditionally been able to do — make people want to visit and live in their city.”

Since it’s only seven hours away, McClure says, there’s no reason Arkansas shouldn’t get to enjoy the wealth of amazing New Orleans music on a regular basis.

Tickets for Rhythm and Cruise are $28.50 and are available at the Riverboat Giftshop in North Little Rock and at - ARKANSAS TIMES ~ Politics & Culture


Dancin' Ground 2007 self-release
Currently being played on:
WWOZ 90.7 New Orleans
Bluesville XM Satellite Radio
KPFA, Berkeley,CA
WAMH, Amherst, MA
WORT, Madison, WI
101FM Honky Tonk Blues Teneriffe, Australia
Muskie's Juke Joint, Jazz 90.1FM, Rochester, NY
....and many other really hip real roots radio stations!



Rhythm Conspiracy bassist Jack Cruz is best known for his longtime association with Walter "Wolfman" Washington and for his earlier years accompanying James Booker - the renowned Piano Prince of New Orleans. Uganda Roberts provided the rhythms on percussion for Professor Longhair & John Mooney among others....
With Cruz on bass together with Wilbert Arnold, aka "Junkyard Dog", these two have formed the nexus of New Orleans' tightest rhythm section as The Roadmasters, backing Walter "Wolfman"Washington for more than 20 years.
Combine these hard driving rhythms with the blues belting vocals of Marilyn Barbarin and the soaring Mardi Gras Indian chants and dance moves of Spy Boy Juan Pardo and you have the past, present and future of the New Orleans sound wrapped up into one big funky conspiracy!
More info ~
Rhythm Conspiracy Productions
A Cultural Worker's Cooperative
Artist owned & operated
Tel: (504) 251-2862