Episode 017 of *The Upful Life Podcast* gets Big Easy-busy with two crucial members of the Crescent City committee, as I sit down with NOLA-based rock n’roll troubadour Billy Iuso (BIRN) for a lengthy powwow, and chase that with 40 minutes of pure, uncut Eric Benny Bloom (of Lettuce.) Super stoked to continue riding high on N’awlinz and Jazz Fest with these two fascinating pals.
BILLY IUSO interview starts at 9min 30sec
Billy Iuso is Ep 017’s featured guest and we set up shop in his uptown NOLA backyard hang, for a lovely conversation. Early on, Billy touches on our shared love for the Grateful Dead, and how he found his way from touring with them to stepping on stage himself. We go back to late 90s jam scene in the NorthEast, his late friend Jaik Miller, and Iuso’s path to New Orleans b/o Athens, Ga. Billy recalls how Deadheads were fairly few and far between upon his arrival, and how he was always labeled “a Dead guy” around this town, and somewhat still is. Nonetheless, since he planted the Iuso flag in the Crescent City, Billy has done plenty in NOLA to establish his own name and voice. This recognition didn’t come easy, nor happen overnight, and not without the benevolence of some living legends. So I set out to have Billy Iuso tell his story.
Billy pulls back the curtain on his amazing relationship with George Porter Jr., their shared history, and the ways that Billy has worked for/helped out/learned from GPJ. We also discuss Billy’s time with Anders Osborne, before really delving into his life’s work with BIRN aka Billy Iuso & Restless Natives. Every step of the way, Billy breaks down the band members and the music, all the while schooling us on the realities of being a working musician, making original music, based in New Orleans, in 2019. Kudos to Billy for keeping it 100 and doing so with dignity and respect. We close out with a powerful passage between Billy and I on addiction, kratom as medicine, and a new lease on life. Moving, engaging, powerful stuff from a super solid cat in Billy Iuso. Check out his website HERE.
ERIC BENNY BLOOM Interview Starts at 1hr 08min
Down the road, Upful Life will have a full-length feature interview with Eric Benny Bloom, where he gets his own episode, however I just had to share this 40 minute gem that was recorded in mid-April in SF. On the heels of a heady AF wine-tasting AND an epic supper at Statebird Provisions, Benny and I retreat to the calm serenity of his posh hotel room for a brief, hilarious, and informative discussion: including John Scofield collaborating with Lettuce, obviously a quick-but-deep dive into NOLA- the music and the vibe of calling the Crescent City home. Benny expounds on why he supports Nick Payton’s BAM mission, and how playing jazz is different than jamming funk, as evidenced in his solo project(s) which he briefly discusses. We delve into (still) being the “new guy(s)” in Lettuce, a little bit on the new LETT LP Elevate, dropping June 14. We geek out on why Russ Elevado is the secret weapon for the glorious sound of the new album. Plus staying inspired on the road, The Lettuce Horns (EBB and Ryan Zoidis) passion for natural wines, finishing up the convo with their exciting new business endeavor Sauvage Selections.
*Vibe Junkie JAM of the Week*
“Sexual Healing”, “Grapevine > Heavy Love Affair”. The Nth Power & Friends- Marvin Gaye Tribute Time to Get it Together. Jazz Fest late night, One Eyed Jacks’s, 4.27.19. Plus a few words from the host on this unforgettable performance, another instant classic from the OG squad and familia. LARGE UP Randy Bayers & Funk It Blog for the sound. #TheNthPowerLovesYou
Upful LIFE says *THANK YOU* to the great CITY OF NEW ORLEANS!