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    The VooDUDES

    Is it all right bayou?

    It's more than all right — it's Mardi Gras all month as the VooDUDES throw a New Orleans-style party all over three states.


    The first Tuesday of March is coming up, and that means heaping plates of jambalaya, plentiful drinks, colorful costumes, and endless dancing to world-class party music by the VooDUDES, the classic Mardi Gras band from . . . New Jersey?

    Andy B. (vocals etc.)
    Jim Beckerman (keyboards, accordion, vocals)
    David Ambrosy (drums, vocals)
    Gary Ambrosy (guitar)
    Fred Saunders (bass).

    Related links: Official site
    Fatty Brown (excerpt)  RA
    Marie Marie (excerpt)  RA
    Party When You're Gone (excerpt)  RA
    Stroke It (excerpt)  RA
    © The VooDUDES. Used by permission.
    "What can I say?" offers pianist Jim Beckerman. "We have swamps in New Jersey and they have swamps in New Orleans, so I guess there's a connection."

    New Orleans provided the original inspiration for the band 10 years ago, when it included an authentic Louisianan — bassist Ron Tullier — as one of its founding members, along with Beckerman, a longtime New Orleans piano aficionado, and singer Andy B. (that's him with the musical washboard), an old pro from the local music circuit with a classic, booming soul voice. "Andy was in the New Brunswick rock scene approximately forever. He was in some of the bands I used to go see in college," Beckerman recalls.

    Tullier headed back home a few years ago, and the band has branched out into more diverse varieties of roots-conscious rock 'n' roll — but always with the Big Easy's signature rhythms and sense of licentious fun at their core. And of course at this time of year, they're a band in demand with a dozen back-to-basics Mardi Gras gigs in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

    "One of the highlights of our year is when we do these Mardi Gras shows and we throw beads and people go crazy," Beckerman says. "And we do all the old favorites — so you'll get your 'Iko Iko' and your 'Jambalaya.' "

    Standouts among the band's original repertoire include: "Party When You're Gone," a fitting addition to the classic New Orleans funeral-music genre; "Fatty Brown Must Die," a character-centered yarn which has the sound of early R&B; and "Stroke It," a crowd favorite that's enshrined on a Dr. Demento compilation. And there are a few quirky covers, too — like the Who's "Squeezebox," Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary" and Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky" — all rendered with a bayou beat and perhaps a tongue in cheek.

    Beckerman is proud of the VooDUDES' success — in the region and around the country, including well-received gigs in New Orleans — as a group that delves into America's musical traditions and makes fresh, new music from it. The Backstreet Boys they ain't.

    "What the radio industry and what MTV foists on us is only the tip of the iceberg, as far as what people are listening to at festivals and in clubs," he notes. And in clubs around New York and New Jersey, the VooDUDES have no trouble convincing a crowd what their music is all about.

    "It's great to be doing something that causes people to totally lose their inhibitions," says Beckerman, "and as long as it's not male stripping, that's all right."

    FEBRUARY 29, 2000

    Reader comments on The VooDUDES:

  • voodudes latest cd   from john muller, Apr 11, 2001
  • VooDudes   from Stevie B, Apr 30, 2006
  • Daddy   from You named me Megan/Mioghan dad, Jun 4, 2006
  • Love the VooDudes for years!   from Lalli Starr, Jul 10, 2006

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