photo - Chris Granger
Fusing Mardi Gras Indian culture with swaggering Bayou funk in a defiant, delicious gumbo, The Rumble featuring Chief Joseph Boudreaux Jr. is among the more exhilarating bands to bubble up from New Orleans onto the national landscape in some time.
The group’s debut cannon blast, 2023’s Live at The Maple Leaf, is nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Regional Roots Music Album category. The electrifying concert encapsulates this ensemble’s multi-hued experience, simultaneously embodying a deep reverence for the city’s historic Black Masking rituals and ushering in a new chapter that reimagines those same treasured traditions.
Chief Joseph Boudreaux Jr. (of the Golden Eagles) and the rest of The Rumble—Aurélien Barnes (trumpet), José Maize Jr. (trombone), TJ Norris (bass), Ari Teitel (guitar), Andriu Yanovski (keyboards), and Trenton O’Neal (drums)—spent years collaborating as members of the Grammy-nominated outfit Cha Wa before cutting ties with the brand en masse in late 2021. When they reformed under the new banner in early 2022, they did so with the collective goal of strengthening the notion of Black ownership and representation at the core of the Mardi Gras Indians cultural milieu.
“To some, leaving Cha Wa may have appeared not the smartest thing to do at the time, considering all the work we put in—to build fans and a brand worthy of a Grammy nomination—but starting The Rumble was the smartest decision I’ve made,” reflects Chief Joseph Boudreaux Jr. “We all felt the need to represent our culture in a way that was true—to the city and culture itself—by owning what was created by the culture-bearers themselves.”
The Rumble featuring Chief Joseph Boudreaux Jr. – “Up Until the Morning” – Live at The Maple Leaf
The group is steadfast in its commitment to carrying on the Masking legacy of local trailblazers like Golden Eagles (led by Chief Joseph’s father, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux) and Wild Magnolias (fronted by Chief Monk in tandem with the late Big Chief Bo Dollis) while also displaying an abundance of gratitude to the uniquely New Orleans character of funk innovators like The Meters and The Neville Brothers. This fresh endeavor delivers a youthful, updated spin on a beloved Bayou blend defined by spirited ancestral call-and-response chants, greasy Second Line grooves, blistering brass, menacing funk, jazzy detours, hip-hop cadences, and steamy R&B. This Crescent City concoction is punctuated by a palpable collective joy, a band of brethren celebrating the filial praxis of Black Masking and carnival culture.
Recorded at the iconic Oak Street institution, Live at The Maple Leaf is a 14-track Uptown love letter to a half-century of New Orleans musical history that simultaneously embraces numerous other slices of Black American Music, past and present. “The city got behind us,” explains Chief Joseph Boudreaux. “They showed out at our very first show as The Rumble, at the Maple Leaf. We created a vibe that night that we just couldn’t anytime before. It felt like the chains had been let off the beast. We were finally able to spread our wings and be free.”
The record is a certified “no-skips” situation, smokin’ hot from start to finish. Festivities kick off with the buoyant “Up Early in the Morning”, a determined stomp that boasts shrieking Hammond B3 swirling atop The Rumble’s potent funk sizzle. Fantastic first single “My People” is an earworm that lets these men cook, while scorchers like “Uptown” and “Bow Down” boast a hefty slab of Neville influence on both their vocal harmonies and rollicking rhythms. A sweaty hometown backbeat powers “Take It Back”, an uplifting, resilient number that will make every last band member’s mama proud.
The Rumble featuring Chief Joseph Boudreaux Jr. Interview – Locally Tuned
Various combinations of Boudreaux, Barnes, Yanovski, and Teitel are credited with writing 13 of the album’s 14 tracks while the record’s lone cover joint, “New Suit”, is an equal parts touching and torrid tribute to the great Big Chief Bo Dollis mined from the Wild Magnolias debut LP—no doubt a humble nod to the cats credited with first melding uptown NOLA-funk styles with sacred Black Masking traditions.
In spite of their relative youth, the musicians of The Rumble have individually paid their dues in the game, recording and performing with an impressive cadre of artists. Highlights across the band member resumes include bold-font acts like Maroon 5, Ledisi, Branford Marsalis, Iggy Pop, and GRiZ. Their New Orleans-based collaborators number far too high to completely catalog them here, though notables on that list include the likes of Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Ivan Neville, and PJ Morton plus local heroes like David Shaw (The Revivalists), Nicholas Payton, Nigel Hall, Papa Mali, Tony Hall, TBC Brass Band, and beyond.
While the group’s individual chefs certainly bring their own virtuosic flavors and sauces to the kitchen, the sum of these definitively NOLA ingredients is a strikingly flavorful stew. The Rumble certainly employs many customary elements of Black Masking pedigree, but to confine this ambitious ensemble strictly to a “Mardi Gras Indian” lane would be a disservice to its far-reaching applications of that tradition.
With Live at The Maple Leaf, The Rumble featuring Chief Joseph Boudreaux Jr. deliver a bold opening salvo and gutsy rebel yell deserving of its esteemed recognition from the Recording Academy. Put the word on the street, Chief got a new suit. Yes, indeed!
Listen to Live at The Maple Leaf by The Rumble featuring Chief Joseph Boudreaux Jr. below and wish them luck at the 2024 Grammy Awards on Sunday, February 4th in Los Angeles, CA. For a deep dive into the origins of The Rumble, head here.
The Rumble featuring Chief Joseph Boudreaux Jr. – Live at The Maple Leaf – Full Album