The Mumbles are ready to rumble
Their name may be The Mumbles, but their music is anything but
soft and indistinct.
The New Orleans noisemakers are bringing their avant-soul spectacle back to Boone Saloon on March 8.
Frequent visitors to King Street, The Mumbles return this time with a few alterations to their show. In the past, keyboardist and singer Keith Burnstein and drummer Ethan Shorter have appeared as a duo; this time, they’re bringing some extra flare.
The Horn-u-copia tour, which takes The Mumbles through five Southeastern states over 11 days, presents the band with a horn section. Wes Anderson (trombone) and Eric Bernhart (tenor sax) join the group, making it the first time The Mumbles have hit the road as more than a two-piece.
The addition of horns is only a small part of the transformation the “avant-soul” band has experienced since transplanting from Brooklyn, N.Y., to the Big Easy in 2010.
After crossing big city hipster with the native sounds of the bayou on their first album, last year’s “Annunciation St.,” The Mumbles’ connection to New Orleans has only strengthened.
“Now we are really starting to get entrenched in what it means to be a New Orleans band, to be musicians in New Orleans,” Burnstein said.
Known for its vibrant musical heritage and burgeoning pool of multicultural talent, New Orleans has proven a challenging experience for The Mumbles.
“Every time you take a step down the street, there’s so many wonderful musicians – just mindblowingly good, just jaw-dropping,” Burnstein said. “There’s no room for mediocrity. Everybody is unbelievably good.”
The Mumbles found favor by putting in countless nights of work and proving themselves to be of the same caliber of those whose names were already on they city’s marquees. The southward move has become a real game-changer for their careers.
“Basically, I play music every night of the week,” Burnstein said. “ It’s my job. That’s all that I do. I think that even if you do that in other places, you probably have to be away from home a little bit more. But no, we can work every night of the week.”
With regular gigs close to home, they’ve ingrained themselves in the scene and cultivated rewarding relationships with other musicians.
“We all know each other and try to take care of each other, so there’s a great sense of community,” Burnstein said. “And a lot of times, we all play on each other’s gigs, too.”
This social atmosphere, combined with the horn-heavy “Annunciation St.,” led to The Mumbles’ decision to add a couple more players to their live show. Anderson and Bernhart, whom Burnstein called virtuosos, will help the band provide a more complete presentation of their latest material.
“It’s an exciting thing for our fans, because people have been seeing us for a number of years as a duo,” he said. “Of course, people like that, and we’re grateful for the people that have come out to see us as a duo, but now we’re ratcheting it up and taking to the next level, and it’s exciting.”
Now that the performers are multiplied by two, there will be more visual and musical stimulation for the audience.
“It becomes panoramic,” Burnstein said. “It spreads out the talent and makes it a lot thicker. There’s more to watch. Plus these guys, just like us, are playing out in New Orleans every night, and they know a little bit about showmanship. They’re doing dances, playing arrangements, they’re coming around with the tip bucket.”
Burnstein said newcomers and fans of the band will see The Mumbles in top form on the Horn-u-copia Tour, not just because of the horns, but because of New Orleans itself.
“Living down there has made us better musicians,” he said. “It’s made us better people.”
The Mumbles concert is scheduled for Thursday, March 8, at 10 p.m. Boone-based blues rock band Swift Science is opening the show. The cover charge is $5, and only ages 21 and older will be admitted. Boone Saloon is located at 489 W. King St. in downtown Boone.
For more information on The Mumbles, visit their website, http://www.themumbles.org.