The Day Zig Came to Town

I remember walking through a run down neighbourhood in New Orleans’ Seventh Ward during a second line- a triumphant street parade of brass bands and local people who step and dance at one with the band and music, rejoicing in a sense of community. I wondered how something that created such a visceral rush could be recreated in London; just how could that energy be captured?

This happened the day that Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste came to town.

 A legend in his own right, as drummer for The Meters, the biggest funk band to come out of New Orleans, Zigaboo set the beat that New Orleans grooved to for more than a decade, influencing countless others, and pollinating genres from brass to hip hop.

 At the 100 Club that night, London-based band Dom & The Ikos warmed up the crowd, delivering slices of  turn-of-the-century Creole jazz, along with some original numbers by piano supremo Dom Pipkin. The band’s high octane wailing brass and piano led grooves transported the audience to the heart of a New Orleans second line, and left them pleading for more.  

 As Dom and his Iko’s left the stage, DJ Lil’ Koko kept the vibe cooking, spinning her signature concoction of rare Rhythm n Blues on the decks.  When Zigaboo picked up his sticks, a volley of rhythm shook the crowd. Supported by his Big Chiefs, Zig dished out classics from The Meters’ Song Book with fresh sounding arrangements of well-known hits Cissy Strut, Just Kissed My Baby and Hey Pocky Way that delighted the crowd, along with some funky more recent instrumentals.

 Perplexingly, the front row stood rather still and listened politely as the band riffed and grooved, (this jazz audience behaviour is unheard of in New Orleans, where the crowd is integral to the performance). My inner second liner started prodding friends to join in, and before long the room bounced to the percussive beats and sensations of a true New Orleanian legend. I walked around in a funk-induced haze for days afterwards.

 "‘Miss Kate, it’s so nice to meet you…” said the gentle drummer, as he shook my hand thanking me for all the promotional efforts, enquiring about the brass band scene in the UK.  Approachable and welcoming,  Zigaboo later graciously posed for post-gig photos as the crowd beamed adoringly but seasoned and ever the showman, he took it all in his stride.

 “He smashed that high hat to pieces, so damn funky,” Dom Pipkin of The Ikos surmised in the green room.

 More, more, more! Dom &The Iko’s headlined Crawfish Fiesta! On Oct 12th at The New Empowering Church- Time Out Critic’s Choice y’all! Next up…we’re having a New Orleans Christmas on December 7th 2013, complete with a big band and Gumbo- bring your legs ready for shakin’!

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