HooDoo Loungers Debut New Album at Stephen Talkhouse April 21

HooDoo Loungers
HooDoo Loungers, Photo: Ingrid Silva

The HooDoo Loungers, Long Island’s favorite New Orleans–style band, has a new CD coming out. Called Head & Heart & Hips, the CD is slated for release next week. At the official CD release party, happening on Saturday, April 21 at 8 p.m. at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett, the band will perform the new CD in its entirety, and copies of the new disc will be available.

Head & Heart & Hips reflects who the band is,” says HooDoo Loungers’ bandleader and bassist Joe Lauro. “It shows an ensemble with many voices, with three songwriters and diverse interests in music and approach.” The HooDoo Loungers really are like a variety act in and of themselves. There are two highly entertaining lead singers upfront—the wild Dawnette Darden and the smooth Marvin Joshua—and a seven-piece backup band, including two more lead singers and a trio of horns, all timed to the impeccable backbeat of the HooDoo’s drummer, Dave Giacone.

It’s been a long wait for Head & Heart & Hips, according to HooDoo guitarist, songwriter and singer Michael Schiano. “We started when we only had a few songs,” he says of the project, which the band envisioned as a collection of originals with a few choice covers. “I think we wound up with a bunch of good, really varied tunes.” Varied, yes—but a quick listen to Head & Heart & Hips shows that what all the tunes have in common is the New Orleans spirit that the HooDoo Loungers are known for.

New Orleans: It’s hard to think about the city without thinking about fun and partying. And that spirit has always come through loud and clear in New Orleans music. From Louis Armstrong to Fats Domino to Dr. John, it’s a long tradition of revelry in sound. New Orleans music is designed to make you dance and help you have fun. And the HooDoos have always worked towards that same goal—as anyone who has seen them live knows.

HooDoo Loungers album "Head & Heart & Hips"
HooDoo Loungers album “Head & Heart & Hips”

“We try to write songs that are consistent with the sound we get when we play authentic New Orleans music,” says David Deitch, songwriter, keyboardist and singer with the HooDoos. Head & Heart & Hips shows Deitch’s stylistic range as a songwriter, from the hopped-up gospel of “Down, Down, Down” to the goofy calypso of “The Silliest Man” to the swamp-tinged country blues of “Louisiana Lullaby”—but, as Deitch points out, “It all still sounds like us.” In fact, the HooDoos have been seamlessly working these original tunes into their live sets for some time.

Schiano’s songs on the CD are more straight-up rock ’n’ roll—a style that is, lest we forget, another fun musical product of New Orleans. Schiano is behind what may be the quirkiest number on the disc—“Glutton for Punishment”—a song that combines an up-tempo swing beat with a narrative about being tortured. “I wrote it during the only time when I commuted via the Long Island Rail Road,” says Schiano. “In the song, the train becomes a torture chamber.” But you probably won’t even notice the macabre lyrics as you dance along to this infectious track. Another HooDoo dance favorite on the new CD is “Take It Along the Way,” written by Dawnette Darden. Laden with images of New Orleans, the song reveals the funky side of the band.

The CD is rounded out by a traditional New Orleans dance number—a Dixieland rendition of the classic “Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor.” “I’m the traditionalist in the band,” says Lauro, who composed and arranged an introduction for the tune. “It’s the kind of straight-on trad jazz arrangement that the HooDoos play at some point on every show.” It summons to mind the boisterous, licentious spirit of Bourbon Street, a spirit that’s also perfectly pictured in the CD’s cover painting by local artist Jim Gingrich.

The HooDoo Loungers will perform Head & Heart & Hips live at The Stephen Talkhouse, 161 Main Street, Amagansett, Saturday, April 21 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at stephentalkhouse.com.

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