In the early months of 2007, I quit my job of 6 years, created an account on CouchSurfing.com, rented a car and headed out to see the Atlantic Ocean . I figured I'd stay with some cool people, drink some local brew and see what the American south had to offer in the way of music. I saw a great open-mic night in Decatur, GA in a place called "Eddie's Attic." There were the usual assortment of people there, a young kid playing classical guitar, a guy with a ponytail rocking out on the keyboards, and a few old cowboys playing slow blues guitar and muttering something about "biscuits" in relation to his lady's DD cups. In North Carolina, I enjoyed all that Wilmington had to offer (pool hall, hip hop/dance club, mellow yuppie/downtempo bar), and in New Orleans I saw a crazy motherfucker playing the drums with his feet and 1 hand and playing his home-made dual-string guitars - made out of what looked to be an assortment of pool-cues and rake handles attached to cigar boxes full of electronics - with the other, and screeching about his faithful dog and cocaine. I saw this guy perform an hour after the Bacchus parade, and three hours after I rolled into NOLA for my first Carnivale.
BEST OPENING ACT EVER.
The surprise of the trip came on Fat Tuesday. I had gone uptown to Tipitina's with the hopes of catching Galactic, one of the best funk bands in the world. Unfortunately, the tickets had to have been bought through Ticketmaster, and so we couldn't get in to see them play. I was a bit bummed, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. One of the people I was staying with mentioned that The Zydepunks were playing somewhere in the French Quarter, so we headed back to the party to try and find them.
We ended up at Checkpoint Charlie's, and immediately walked up to the front of the stage where The Zydepunks were playing. They had already been going at it for a good hour or two, and they were drenched in sweat. The drummer was pounding away (did this just turn into a porno movie??) and the lead singer was switching back and forth between the fiddle and the accordion, while singing in French, German, English, Portuguese and a few other languages. Occasionally a dreadlocked fellow would hop up on stage to play some sort of flute for the more Irish-themed songs, and that only added to the awesomeness of the show. We stayed until an interlude an hour later - apparently The Zydepunks are known for their ability and willingness to play marathon shows lasting all night - and then headed back out into the streets. Before I left, I bought their CD ...and the streets will flow with whiskey from their accordion player and stuck it in my backpack. The party continued until early in the morning with stops at the Christmas Club Lounge, multiple stops to Molly's on the Market, and an occasional stop for food and what could be passed off as food (a Lucky Dog saved my life). I all but forgot about the CD until Ash Wednesday, when I departed for Texas.
After packing my car and hopping on the highway, I reached into my bag to grab something and came across the CD. I unwrapped it and tossed it into the player, and there it stayed for the next 8 hours. I'm damn surprised I didn't get popped for speeding, because I made it into Houston in record time, drumming on the steering wheel like a maniac. The CD is a killer mix of styles and tempos. It's Zydeco-Klezmer-Irish-Gypsy-punk... something that can't really be described with words. The most well-known bands I could compare them with would be Flogging Molly or Gogol Bordello. Or maybe if The Clash were reincarnated as a group of Eastern-European gypsies. Not only that, but the production values on the CD are great. I'm used to local bands making discs that sound like crap, but this isn't the case here.
However you want to describe them, The Zydepunks were without a doubt the best band I saw during that entire trip. Their CD has made it's way onto my iPod, and I still listen to it a few times a week. It's great at keeping me awake while driving down to Colorado Springs at 4AM, or to listen to before heading out for the evening. Also, great news! Their new CD is set to be released within the coming weeks! In the meantime, head over to their website and pick up ...and the streets will flow with whiskey. It's definitely worth having. Or if you're one of those people who has sold their CD player and only buys music digitally from iTunes, you can get tracks there as well. You can sample their stuff on their homepage or on their MySpace page.
If you're ever down in Louisiana, do yourself a favor and catch a show (or even part of a show). No matter what your usual musical preferences are, you'll be dancing in no time.