Top 10 Louisiana Bands Of All Time
Pardon the geographical pun, but besides Texas, our neighbor to the east may be the most musical state in these United States. And in terms of per capita, Louisiana, which ranks 25th in population to Texas' second, is probably second to none.
Outside Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, the program most responsible for spreading country music throughout the South in the mid-20th century was the Shreveport-based Louisiana Hayride. Everyone pretty much agrees that jazz was invented in New Orleans, of course, but that city also has as good a pedigree as the birthplace of rock and roll as its neighbor up Highway 61, Memphis, and has been bouncing back and forth with Houston and Atlanta as the capital of Southern rap for a solid decade now.
To wit: Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, Allen Toussaint, Faron Young, Jerry Lee Lewis, Slim Harpo, Dr. John, Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Lucinda Williams, Sonny Landreth, Juvenile, Lil Wayne... get the picture? Curiously enough, though - and also like Texas - Louisiana seems to specialize in solo artists; Pelican State groups that have had a similar amount of impact as the aforementioned performers are relatively few and far between.
So on this Mardi Gras day, Rocks Off set out to find a few and, as we often do, rank them arbitrarily according to our personal degree of familiarity and enjoyment. It's our blog, and that's how we let the good times roll. For the purposes of this list, by the way, we have limited our survey to the realms of pop, rock and R&B. It's not that we don't love Cajun, zydeco and second-line brass bands, but if we let them in we could be here all week. It's Mardi Gras, y'all, and we want to party too.
10. Eyehategod: Jazz, yes, but not a whole lot of people know that New Orleans is also the capital of sludge metal, a name that has less to do with the amount of pollution in the Mississippi River than just being a nifty way to describe an ill-tempered hybrid of doom-metal and hardcore punk. Formed in 1988, Eyehategod gets the nod over Phil Anselmo's Down and Acid Bath, which spawned alt-blues hellion Dax Riggs, because out of this cadre of mean sumbitches, they're probably the meanest of all.
Still Active? Yes. Played Walter's on Washington late last year.
9. Zebra: If Rocks Off were still doing our "Lost Tuneage" blogs, Zebra would be an ideal candidate - when we wrote about the Houston Symphony's "Music of Led Zeppelin" program in 2007, we had no idea Zebra was Robert Plant stand-in Randy Jackson's main gig.
Formed in New Orleans in 1975, Zebra moved back east and knocked around New York City and Long Island clubs with the likes of Twisted Sister, making it to Atlantic Records for three albums in the '80s. Never quite grabbed the brass ring, but never quit either. Inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame last year.
Still Active? Indeed. See www.thedoor.com.
8. Zydepunks: As literate as they are rambunctious, Rocks Off called this New Orleans group (and Los Skarnales pals) a "high-speed collision of ethnic traditions that manifests itself in song titles like 'A Fistful of Oysters'" when they played iFest last year. Think of them as Gogol Bordello for the red-beans-and-rice set.
Still Active? Yes. Featured in the upcoming New Orleans-shot independent movie Flood Streets, which premieres April 11 at the Worldfest Houston film festival.