Thursday, June 14, 2012

Five notable books on the music of New Orleans

Keith Spera writes about music for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans. In 2006, he was a member of the newspaper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Hurricane Katrina coverage team. He has also contributed to Rolling Stone, Vibe, Blender, LA Weekly, Garden & Gun and numerous documentaries. He lives in his native New Orleans. His latest book is Groove Interrupted: Loss, Renewal, and the Music of New Orleans.

With Daisy Banks of The Browser, Spera discussed five top books about the music of New Orleans, including:
The Brothers
by Art, Aaron, Charles and Cyril Neville and David Ritz

[W]hat about your final book choice, The Brothers, which is an autobiography by the Neville brothers?

This is the autobiography of Art, Cyril, Charles and Aaron who are the four brothers who make up the Neville Brothers band. It was co-written with David Ritz. The Neville Brothers for many years were the standard bearer of New Orleans music. They were a classic story of a family up from the streets. They had some early success individually. Art Neville, the oldest brother, did a song called "Mardi Gras Mambo" back in the fifties that is still one of the songs that you hear every year at carnival time. It is one of the four or five songs that will be played at Mardi Gras forever.

Aaron Neville is famous for his high fluttering voice and he had a hit in the early sixties called "Tell It Like It Is." And then he fell on hard times, so the brothers came together in the late seventies and the early eighties and came to define New Orleans funk and rhythm and blues. They did a record called Yellow Moon, which is a beautiful evocative spooky record that really broke them on a national level. For over 15 years they have played at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. They didn’t do it for a couple of years after Katrina, which is why Fats Domino was booked for that spot. For many people, when they think of a band from New Orleans the Neville Brothers are the ones that spring to mind.
Read about the other books Spera tagged at The Browser.

--Marshal Zeringue