the subdudes

the subdudes


One of the most original and unique of Americana bands with a moving blend of soul, gospel, R&B, Blues and folk. Their latest cd, "Street Symphony" in stores now.


Over the course of 20 years and eight albums, the subdudes have quietly become one of America's national music treasures.
The New Orleans-formed group is a living encapsulation of American music, a vibrant cauldron of sounds that stirs together meaty grooves and jazzy dynamics, soulful R&B swagger, easy vocal harmonies, cheeky rock 'n' roll attitude and folky social consciousness -- not to mention some of the sharpest musicianship and ensemble playing you'll ever hear from any five musicians. It's tight enough to be loose, but never gratuitously sloppy.
Those virtues have seldom been displayed better than on STREET SYMPHONY, the subdudes' third album since regrouping in 2002 after a five-year hiatus. Richly crafted and fiercely executed, it's the document of a veteran band that's still learning, growing and getting better at what it does.
"Basically what we wanted was to go in and capture the live vibe of this band," explains Tommy Malone (vocals, guitar), who co-founded the subdudes in 1987 with former Continental Drifter John Magnie (vocals, keyboards) and Steve Amedee (vocals, percussion). Tim Cook (vocals, bass, percussion) and Jimmy Messa (bass, guitar) arrived in
subsequent years. "We often hear people say they love to come see us, but the records are just not what we are. They're not what we sound like. This time we wanted to get that vibe on tape, and I think we did."

Working with producer George Massenberg last March in Nashville, the band took a batch of songs they'd written in previous months and delivered vibrant performances on each. The group members arranged themselves in a circle, facing each other and feeding off that energy and communication as they played. "There was no glass, no separation,"
Malone recalls. "The machine never stopped. It was just a great way to record."

STREET SYMPHONY maintains the joyous, life-affirming vibe that's part and parcel of the subdudes' music as the group muses about the mythical (but certainly desired) "Fountain of Youth," channels a bit of street corner soul into "Work Clothes" and finds redemptive love in the gorgeous "Absolutely," that both belies and complements the more serious outlook on several of the 12 songs here. This is, after all, the subdudes' first set of new material post-Katrina and the devastation it caused to the band's home town in 2005, and it would seem unnatural if it didn't impact on the music.
The first single, "Poor Man's Paradise" is a stark look at New Orleans in the wake of that natural disaster. "Thorn in Her Side" employs the Statue of Liberty as a well-pointed metaphor about the current state of affairs in the United States. "Brother Man" calls for a bridge between the divides of race and religion. "I'm Your Town" asks "who's gonna save me?"
"We are a fairly political bunch," acknowledges Magnie. "We're a bunch of peaceniks. We don't like to get too specific with those political things, but of course we're basically a bunch of bleeding heart liberals." Malone agrees that topical songs are "a fine line and tricky business" but adds that "I don't know how you avoid it right now. It's not necessarily comfortable, but we all have a duty at this point to say something about what's going on."
In that regard, Malone, Magnie and their mates figure that STREET SYMPHONY is the perfect title for this particular landmark in the subdudesÂ’ history.
"All over the country," Malone explains, "the real shit evolves from the street. When people want change, they get outside and they get a sign and they start marching and singing. That's the beginning. If you get enough of them, things
will change."

But what remains the same is the subdudes' pursuit of musical excellence and excitement, embodied yet again on STREET SYMPHONY.


Set List