(Sinking City Records, New Orleans)
"We are resilient", says Big Chief Jermaine Bossier of 79rs Gang, about the unexpected comeback of New Orleans, his city. The disaster of hurricane Katrina didn't turn the city into a cultural wasteland, as some might have predicted, but led the players who stayed to focus on their main virtues and to rely on the Crescent City's distinctive and rich cultural heritage.
In this regard 79rs Gang, a Mardi Gras Indian tribe of a new kind, co-led by Big Chiefs Jermaine and Romeo, can be easily understood as the spearhead of this renaissance. Some Historians trace back the very beginnings of the Afro-American tradition to dress up as Native Americans while carnival as far back as 18th century's Congo Square, one of the little places in the US where African drumming was tolerated while the days of slavery. 79rs Gang are is able to merge the knowledge about these ancient stories with today's life and the experiences of a youth growing up on a steady musical diet of NOLA Bounce and Hiphop.
Hence their recent Album "Fire On The Bayou" is able to sound firmly rooted in tradition and fresh and unexpected at the same time. The offering has been produced by the group and was initially self-released as a private press CD before being reissued as a lavishly designed LP by the appropriately named Sinking City Records just in time for Mardi Gras 2015. Reduced to repetitive drumming and chants with the Big Chiefs both taking over lead vocal duties, it is definitely a masterpiece.
In concert expect a tribe in full wardrobes, dropping a heavy and polyrhythmic beat on congas, timbales, tambourines, and cowbells while claiming, admitting no contradiction: "On Mardi Gras Day we put them all to shame - I still can’t believe I got an Indian gang.”