P&V Radio: John-Michael Early of Flow Tribe & Les Capriades Pét-Sec
I first met John-Michael at a party on Bourbon Street a little more than a year ago. It was at the abode of mutual friends, on the brief residential stretch of that infamous strip. When I revealed what I do for a living, he was immediately interested in talking with me about writing a bio and some other promotional materials for his band Flow Tribe, which I did, which is how we became friends and eventually ended up making this podcast.
The one year anniversary of my move here passed just a few weeks ago and I still have much to learn about my new home. I thought JM might have some insight, having grown up in New Orleans. On my agenda was to better understand the importance of where you went to high school. Where did you go to school? is a common prompt when two people realize they're both natives. The question always implies high school, never college. We also talked about Mardi Gras and the role it plays in kids' lives, especially those who are musically inclined and members of their school's marching band. Mardi Gras, like Christmas, really is for the children, family affairs where the innocence of youth and the wisdom (and debauchery) of adulthood mingle. In fact, I'd argue it's bigger than Christmas. At the dentist office last week I overheard a hygienist ask a grade school age child, "Are you ready for Mardi Gras?"
And of course we talked about Flow Tribe. The band has been performing together for over a decade, which alone is a feat. They play gigs for about a third of the calendar year, which keeps them on the road just about every weekend. Their sound is self-described as "backbone cracking" music that feels at once familiar and completely original, and always makes you want to move your feet. All six members of the band grew up in Nola, and their output reflects it. Influences are wide, with hip hop on some tracks, R&B and soul on others. Horns are a constant presence as is the zydeco creation, the fratois, which JM and I talk about in this episode. I had no idea what a fratois is before this conversation.
les Capriades Pét-Sec
To satisfy the drinking component of this episode of Pig&Vine Radio was a tasty, funky bottle of bubbles from the Loire Valley. I chose Les Capriades Pét-Sec for its drinkability and unusual blend and flavors, kinda like my guest. Every vintage is its own beast, in blend, flavor and outcome, such is the way with natural wines. This vintage has a distinct sour note that reminded me and John-Michael of a wheat beer, and was a perfect match for that balmy, November blue sky day in the Tremé.
Flow Tribe is currently working to open their recording studio, Downman Sounds on Downman Road in East New Orleans. With several EPs and full length albums already in circulation, the studio will allow them to produce more, and do so more quickly. But the real treat is to experience Flow Tribe live, so check your their tour schedule because they just might be coming to your hood.
EPISODE BONUS: Listen to Flow Tribe's original track "Gon Gitcha" off their EP White Alligator at the end of our conversation, then grab yourself some tunes from the Flow Tribe online store.