The musical line-up for the 3rd annual Que’in on the Red in Downtown Alexandria was recently published on the festival’s website. The festival will be held at the North Levee Park in Alexandria from March 14th-16th. Last year, the festival was headlined by country music star Pat Green; this year it will feature the Neville Brothers, the Funky Meters, the Derek Trucks Band, Robert Earl Keen, the Geno Delafoses Band, and Josh Hyde and the Hitchhikers, among others.
The Nevilles continue to provoke, entertain and excite audiences around the globe. Their similarity/diversity dynamic continues on its paradoxical path. They play together; they play apart. Each of the four brothers pursue projects of their own. Aaron has forged a highly successful solo career. Art tours with an offshoot group he calls the Funky Meter. For years Cyril has led the Uptown All stars. Charles has recorded a series of critically acclaimed jazz records. Yet the heart of the matter is family. Family brings them together. Family keeps them together. Family is everything. Without Family, there is a gaping void. With family, there is the miracle of Neville music, four brothers, bonded by blood, creating some of the funkiest sounds this world has ever heard.
In their 25-year history, The Meters (now officially known as The Funky METERS) have grooved their way around the globe. They have toured with such talents as The Rolling Stones, and have been a studio band for such diverse artists as Dr. John, Paul McCartney, Robert Palmer, and Patti Labelle.
Considered by many to be the founding fathers of funk, The Meters created a unique sound that lasted through the sixties and seventies and was reborn in the late eighties. Their trademark sound blends funk, blues, and dance grooves with a New Orleans vibe.
Presenting the Neville Brothers and the Funky Meters:
The Derek Trucks Band has been a work in progress for over 10 years, blending jazz, rock, blues, Latin, Eastern Indian, and other world music into the sound that now defines the DTB. The band’s mission has been to assemble a group of musicians that share a passion for improvisation and musical exploration, and to develop a united musical vision by performing with this core group of players for an extended period of time. The focus of the band is on the art form itself, despite the current trend of image-driven music on the scene today. The DTB aims to create progressive roots music in an effort to move the art form forward and re establish substance over hype. Following is a brief history of the band, and the diverse background of the musicians that make up the DTB.
Derek Truck’s musical career began at the age of nine, when he picked up a five dollar acoustic guitar at a yard sale. “It was nothing special,” he claims, “It was just the only thing that looked interesting.” But that seemingly inconsequential purchase changed his life. After learning what he could from his father and a family friend, Derek began playing with other musicians around town. “It happened pretty quick,” Derek remembers. Within the span of a single year, he had purchased an instrument, learned how to play, and began touring – with his father acting as road manager/chaperone. What had begun as a weekend activity quickly became a life’s pursuit, and would eventually result in Derek being the youngest player to make Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” list.
The Derek Trucks Band in concert:
Among the large contingent of talented songwriters who emerged in Texas in the 1980s and 1990s, Robert Earl Keen struck an unusual balance between sensitive story-portraits (“Corpus Christi Bay”) and raucous barroom fun (“That Buckin’ Song”). These two song types in Keen’s output were unified by a mordant sense of humor that strongly influenced the early practitioners of what would become known as alternative country music. Keen, the son of an oil executive father and an attorney mother, was a native of Houston. His parents enjoyed both folk and country music, and his own style would land, like that of his close contemporary Nanci Griffith, between those genres. Keen wrote poetry while he was in high school, but it wasn’t until he went to journalism school at musically fertile Texas A&M that he learned to play the guitar. He and Lyle Lovett became friends and co-wrote a song, “This Old Porch,” which both later recorded.
Keen made a splash in Austin with his debut album, No Kinda Dancer, self-financed in 1984 to the tune of 4,500 dollars. He moved to Nashville during the heady experimentalism of the 1980s that saw Lovett and k.d. lang hit the country Top Ten, but he soon returned to Austin. Texas landscapes and residents provided Keen with creative inspiration, as his second album, West Textures, made clear; that album yielded one of Keen’s signature numbers, an ambitious crime-spree song called “The Road Goes on Forever.” Now recording for Sugar Hill, Keen recorded a live album shortly after West Textures but waited several years to release a studio follow-up, 1993’s A Bigger Piece of Sky. After that album (which contained “Corpus Christi Bay”) came Gringo Honeymoon (1994), which merged Keen’s story songs with the emerging sounds of alt-country: guitars were laid down by the influential Austin musician Gurf Morlix, who later produced albums for both Keen and Lucinda Williams, and a young Gillian Welch provided harmony vocals.
Once again, after taking his career to a new stage, Keen recorded a live album (No. 2 Live Dinner, 1996) and took time to accumulate new material. The 1997 album Picnic, his first for the Arista Texas label, again moved in the direction of alternative country, featuring Keen in a duet with the Cowboy Junkies‘ Margo Timmins, while 1998’s Walking Distance featured sparer textures. Whatever production style surrounded his songs, Keen’s musical personality seemed consistent, and his live shows, widely known thanks to a touring schedule that often approached 200 dates a year in the 1990s, grew organically in depth and control. In the early 2000s, Keen signed with the Lost Highway label and released the album Gravitational Forces (2001). He also devoted time to his influential annual concert series and talent festival, Texas Uprising, which took place at several venues around Texas and the Far West. 2003 saw the release of his eighth studio album, the amiable Farm Fresh Onions, as well as The Party Never Ends: Songs You Know from the Times You Can’t Remember, a compilation of Keen’s Sugar Hill days. His next release was 2005’s What I Really Mean for the Koch label. It was followed in 2006 by Live at the Ryman.
Here he is on one of the best television shows ever, Austin City Limits: