NEW ORLEANS (press release) – Composed of two rival Big Chiefs representing different wards of New Orleans, 79rs Gang combine tradition with club and electronic elements to shine a bright light on New Orleans culture in 2020 with the launch of their full-length album, Expect the Unexpected. The album features Mardi Gras Indian music like never heard before – augmenting and expanding the traditional sounds of voice and percussion with hip-hop and electronic productions, while keeping the core elements fully intact and in focus. Expect the Unexpected is available now at 79rsgang.bandcamp.com.
79rs Gang originally formed in 2013 when Big Chief Romeo Bougere of the 9th Ward Hunters and Big Chief Jermaine Bossier of the 7th Ward Creole Hunters put their differences aside and came together to build a bridge with music, releasing a traditional Mardi Gras Indian music album (Fire On The Bayou) in 2014. Today, Jermaine and Romeo – working alongside writer/ producer Eric Heigle (Arcade Fire, The Soul Rebels, Lost Bayou Ramblers) – have created an album that is rooted in the unique traditions of New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian culture, while launching that culture forward, bringing each track to dance floors and block parties around the world.
“Romeo and Jermaine are two of the baddest Indian singers out there, not to mention Romeo can play tambourine as well as anyone I’ve ever seen,” Said Heigle. “That along with the concept of solidarity that is embedded within the 79rs Gang concept makes this project super unique. They worked really hard on this music and I couldn’t be prouder of 79rs Gang for Expect the Unexpected.”
Additional collaborators in Expect the Unexpected include Arcade Fire’s Win Butler, LCD Soundsystem’s Korey Richey, Grammy Award Winning trumpeter Nicholas Payton, American percussionist and vocalist Cyril Neville, Haitian music collective Lakou Mizik and many more notable musicians. Album artwork was created by New Orleans artist Ceaux Young.
“In the 1970s, Bo Dollis and Monk Boudreaux opened the door and took Mardi Gras Indian music and culture around the world using New Orleans funk. On Expect the Unexpected, we bring this culture into the future,” Says Bossier. “We take this music around the world using a beat machine, using the sounds of hip hop and dance music. This is music for young people and old people, for the people of New Orleans, and for people who know nothing about this culture. This is music for the whole world.”
Mardi Gras Indian culture is endemic to New Orleans. For well over 100 years, men, women, and children have masked in elaborate feathered and beaded suits painstakingly hand sewn over an entire year. While sewing these suits (which they debut on Mardi Gras morning), they chant call and response lyrics – which interplay with the sounds of bass drum, snare, bottles, cowbell, cymbals and handclaps – to call on their ancestors and warn contemporaries to stay out of the way. Mardi Gras Indians tell the stories of their origins where escaped African slaves found refuge and intermarried with the Native Americans of South Louisiana. The beaded suits glorify resistance to slavery, cowboys and the ethnic cleansing of native people. Each year during Mardi Gras, both of these Big Chiefs lead their own gang out on the streets of New Orleans.
This is the duo’s second album on Louisiana focused and vinyl-centric label Sinking City Records.
For more information on 79rs Gang and “Expect the Unexpected” visit 79rsgang.bandcamp.com
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