Champions of Breakfast
From the January 2005 issue of Where'Yat Magazine Ones to Watch: Egg Yolk Jubilee by Billy Thinnes Through a nondescript door at an undisclosed location in Metairie, strange music emerges. Following the sound to it's source reveals an elaborate ballroom with chandeliers gleaming, the dance floor glistening and the entire premises deserted, save for the reunited members of Egg Yolk Jubilee. The band is practicing, reacquainting themselves with each other and recapturing the musical magic that made them favorites of the discerning New Orleans music consumer from 1996 until the summer of 2002. Egg Yolk Jubilee's sound lies somewhere between an acid-tinged Captain Beefheart daydream and the powerful cacophony of a brass band dipped in a clamoring batter of Dixieland, polka, circus funk and the best of prog-rock. 'We never really broke up,' says trombonist Mike Joseph, explaining the band's two-year hiatus. 'We just believe it's a good idea to take a break between eating brunch and lunch, so that's what we did.' The band, which seems to be based upon quirky musical ideas, a refreshingly warped sense of humor and a history of friendship among it's members that dates back to high school days, creates weird sounds for strange times. That's not to say that they are disciples of Ornette Coleman; rather, all of their tunes maintain a sense of rhythmic integrity, but the tempos and genres they dabble in to create Egg Yolk music defy easy categorization. 'We are your all-purpose New Orleans band,' says Paul Grass, who contributes tenor sax, rhythm guitar and vocals to the band's sound. 'We cover all the bases. Wherever we play, the people dig it. We all grew up in the New Orleans area and most of our relatives were musicians.' The family members that were also musicians could explain the vast array of influences Egg Yolk Jubilee incorporates, and also provide rationale for how crowds as disparate as a wedding party in Old Algiers or a bunch of zonked out hipsters at the Mermaid could both be down with the Jubilee. For instance, a good tune that captures the band firing on all cylinders is their take on 'Brazil,' an old song that, as guitarist Geoff Douville describes, was written by 'a couple of guys 80-90 years ago and then some other guy made it famous. The Coasters do a version of it. There was some movie in the 1940s that brought it back to public consciousness, and the guy that preceded Desi Arnez on the world scene had a hit with it.' Such a convoluted explanation of a song that the band rips is entirely apropos for Egg Yolk world. So there's the twisted pre-Desi Latin vibe that swirls into their music, and then there are originals like 'Bogul U.S.A.,' which was inspired by a trip to the Omelet Festival in Abbeville and an unpleasant yet hot chick that trumpeter Eric Belletto encountered. 'The fair Prunella mentioned in the song is based upon this blonde chick I worked with in a bank,' Belletto says. 'I called her Prunella because she was bitchy and pruney, but she was hot anyway.' 'Bogul U.S.A.' as a song has the feel of a rushed and slightly nerve-wracking road trip. The frantic tempo and horn-based sound effects that emulate misbehaving cars, trucks and police vehicles, along with a guitar solo that fully embraces the concept of dissonance, transport the listener into a frazzled world of too much coffee, too much speed (the rpm version), ominous highways and longing for an unattainable bitchy blonde chick. Basically, this is one rocking tune. Another nod to the askew intelligencia of Egg Yolk's members is the cult classic film Heavy Brass. The short film was written and directed by Grass, filmed by Douville and stars, among others, bass sax and sousaphonist Glen Barberot. Released at some point in the mid-90s, the storyline features a marauding group of evil tuba players who wreak havoc on innocent countryside musicians. The tuba players march around leaving a trail of confused carnage until one day they encounter a trio of pretty maidens playing flute in a picturesque field. To reveal anything else about the film would be considered sacrilege to the art form, so the only advice that can be offered is to either bug a band member about getting a copy at Egg Yolk's next gig, or send a petition to Cox Cable, as their public access channel has been known to air Heavy Brass from time to time. Egg Yolk Jubilee can generally be counted on to bring the goods in a live setting. They've played some ridiculous gigs in their time. They played Scully's wedding (of Morning 40 Federation fame). At the inaugural Apocalypse Ball, they performed wearing black capes, and the windy conditions caused their capes to flutter proudly and the band to look like a hodge-podge of disheveled superheroes. Some years ago, there was the All Folks Fest out at the Fly in Audubon Park, which featured the band jumping out of a giant cardboard chicken to commence their performance. Their 2000-2001 New Year's Eve performance certainly merits mention in the annuals of wackiness (see the Mermaid Lounge eulogy story for more information). The current incarnation of Egg Yolk Jubilee is excited to be back together. They are writing new songs and dusting off vintage classics from the early years. At the previously mentioned rehearsal, the scene was cool. The band was stoked to be playing Sun Ra's 'Call for All Demons' again. Douville was discussing his big plans for the frequency analyzer effects module he just procured for his guitar. The whiskey was flowing freely from the illicitly opened bar that generally feeds the buzzes of fox-trotting seniors on Sunday nights. The general consensus amongst the horn players was that Barberot generated the most spit during performances because his was the biggest instrument (sousaphone). Joseph was mock complaining about his trombone freezing up on him, and blamed it on the instruments jumping out of their cases and running around when he wasn't looking. The New fearless rhythm section consisting of Endre Landsles' virtuoso drumming and Mike Hogan's thundering six string bass add a new 'drive' to the sound very different from the more traditional rhythm sections found in New Orleans bands and they have been know to eat glass on stage. In short, the vibe was good, the musical chops were returning and New Orleans is again privileged to have a virtually indescribable band of stellar musicians back on the scene.