Papa Mali - Wakarusa Music Festival

2007 Artist Lineup

Papa Mali

Papa Mali’s latest album documents his pre-Katrina New Orleans summit meeting with some of the city’s most celebrated and talented players, brought together with one request: Do your thing. More than a recording session, the atmosphere that developed feels almost like a seance, as friends gather in a circle and invoke the ghosts of their pasts… look deeper, and you can almost see those spirits weaving through the air like curls of smoke, conjuring visions of snake handlers and tent revivals, spy boys and street parades, proceeding with a broke-leg swagger to a place that’s less about being funky and more about being Southern. Do your thing! Featured guests for this journey are representatives from three of New Orleans’ deepest traditions: Kirk Joseph – founding member of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Kirk is responsible in large part for the modern New Orleans brass band sound. But we prefer to think of him as the James Jamerson of the sousaphone. Big Chief Monk Boudreaux – worldwide ambassador of the proud Mardi Gras Indian tradition, Monk has been “masking Indian” since the 1950’s and performed at the very first New Orleans Jazzfest in 1970. He appears on this record speaking, chanting, and playing his own percussion instruments. As a further honor to “Pops” (as he refers to Papa Mali), Monk enlisted his own tribe The Golden Eagles, leading them through the blistering call-and-response of Early In The Morning and heading up a drum circle for Sugarland. Henry Butler – referred to as “the pride of New Orleans” by Dr. John, Henry Butler is no less than the singular New Orleans piano giant of his generation, and keeper of the torch previously held by James Booker and Professor Longhair. Tears were shed when Henry finished performing Honeybee with the band — perhaps most notably by the cameraman filming the event, who said he felt “unworthy to be in the room”. Papa Mali later reflected, “the recorded version with him on piano is so beautiful that it will be hard to play that song live without him”. Fans of Papa Mali’s live show will be pleased to see that the “caveman beats” of drumming phenomenon and longtime touring partner Robb Kidd have finally been captured on tape. From the fury and power of uptempo drum workouts like Early In The Morning to the loping groove of My Name Is Moses, Robb blurs the line between “swagger” and “stagger” and brings thunder to the weather forecast. Victoria Williams started out as a high school student singing Neil Young songs with Papa Mali on the bayous of Shreveport Louisiana, and ended up opening for Neil Young and having her songs recorded by Pearl Jam, Lou Reed, Soul Asylum and Lucinda Williams. Her ethereal vocals shine through when a ray of light is needed, providing transcendance to songs like Hallelujah I’m a Dreamer and True Religion. Chuck Prophet is a living legend and no doubt one of the best guitar slingers around. A West Coast native, Chuck knows his way around the great Southern recording studios better than most Southerners. He and MOFRO’s JJ Grey slipped into the session like visitors to a family reunion, dropping off a plate of something they grew up with and then sneaking out the side gate, just because sometimes that’s the neighborly thing to do. Do Your Thing continues a long-term relationship between Papa Mali and producer/engineer Dan Prothero. The two have worked together since Papa Mali’s critically acclaimed debut Thunder Chicken, and on this record they sought to retain “that sound”, which Prothero characterizes as “capturing the impact of live performance this caliber of musicians is capable of, while allowing all that Papa Mali intrigue and wierd other-worldliness to come through. Moments of vulnerability and moments of floor-shaking power. I think we got it all. I know I’m grateful we had this opportunity before New Orleans was turned upside down.”

Mulberry Mountain :: Ozark, Arkansas
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