Yogoman: Caravan to Mardi Gras Tour 2016

by JORDAN RAIN/YOGOMAN

YOGOMAN began: In 1989 Seattle, WA, when I was abducted by aliens who exhibited wild, fun and ridiculous dance moves in hopes I would pass this on to fellow humans to express freedom and help solve any problems that may arise in humanity. Bellingham’s magnetic fields pulsated more brilliantly so I made it my home in 1995. DJ YOGOMAN began in 1999 and in 2005 I formed Yogoman Burning Band (now just called YOGOMAN) for which I write original music, sing lead vocals and lead from the drums. Jamaican Ska, Rock-Steady, Reggae, Dub and Dancehall and the RnB, Funk, Soul, and Brass Bands of New Orleans serve as my main inspiration to help provide an environment where our culture has an opportunity to cut loose.

Aside from touring YOGOMAN over the last decade throughout the western states, my first major goal has been to bring YOGOMAN to New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA). I had been through NOLA on two DIY tours in the mid 90s with my first two bands. Later I worked at New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, took trips as often as I could to DJ reggae records at Jamaican style yard parties with my friend and musical comrade Prince Pauper a.k.a. Matt Knowles. All this experience has strengthened my knowledge of the musical, geographic, culinary and cultural landscape of New Orleans.

My currently brave Yogocrew helped me make the pilgrimage to NOLA, bringing my music to the place in America where live dance music is a way of life. Pat “Tyagi Ji” Doran on clarinet, alto sax, tap dancing and melodica, Galen “Bigga Bass” Hunt on bass guitar, their cousin Denny “Armin Hammer” Franzmann on the fiddle, trumpet, guitar and vocals, Stuart “Ting Kubby” Jackson on Dub Engineering, my loving and supportive wife Jacqueline “Bongo Jac” Rain on the bongos, percussion and vocals, our 1-year-old son Buck (touring since in utero) were aboard the YogoVan with cargo trailer.

Upon arriving in NOLA, we gained a local member on keys for our scheduled shows during the week leading up to Mardi Gras. A veteran of Reggae and New Orleans music and a survivor hero of Hurricane Katrina, Tyagi Ji deliberates on our New Orleans host: “The most memorable person I met on the YOGOMAN tour was our generous host Renard Copelin. Galen and I slept on the floor of Renard’s small apartment located in the lower Ninth ward. We had fun with the man and had a unique opportunity to look into and experience the local lifestyle. It seemed everyone in the apartment complex was our friend even if we didn’t know each other’s names. There would always be someone awake to greet us from their balcony or in the hallway to chat about the evening. And of course Renard was always ready and willing to get out of bed to buzz us in, no matter what time of night.

Renard became protective of the bandmates and I could tell he took pride in looking out for us. When we left New Orleans, Renard reiterated that we are always welcome to stay on his floor. Anytime. Even on our way home I would receive phone calls from Renard who just wanted to know how we were doing. And of course I had to let him know when we made it back to Washington, safe and sound. I am grateful for having met Renard and for his generosity. He gave us a home away from home.”

Last year Jac, Buck and I met Renard at an annual small community festival called 9th Ward Fest. Renard responded to Buck, commenting on how he felt like he could relate to kids Buck’s age more easily than the rest of humanity. I had given Renard a flyer advertising our auditions for YOGOMAN, which he replied to the next day. Jac and I auditioned Renard at his apartment. It was evident that he fit right in the mix and we had made a friend for life. Renard expressed he hadn’t been out of the house much since Katrina which was the beginning of his health and mobility issues. He was grateful to be able to go out with us, perform again, and described us as having “pulled him off the shelf” so to speak. Renard truly believes in my music and is happy to be a part of the group for which I am grateful.

The first show in New Orleans this year was at the Dragon’s Den where members of the local reggae community showed up to listen. With the addition of another local friend “Cajun Chris” Senac on bass and Galen playing guitar, I don’t think the stage could have held one more person.

The second show was at Bar ReDux, an eclectic down home style punk bar in the Bywater area with a nice back patio performance area bordering the train tracks. Yogoman and Bongo Jac DJ’d reggae 45’s at ReDux last year making friends with the owners Russ and Janya and garnering national fans. Word spread, gracious hospitality was received, the weather was warm enough for a February evening, and a nice local crowd turned outdoors for this show, making this the highlight of the New Orleans shows sound and vibe wise.

Finally, the evening before Mardi Gras, YOGOMAN played Checkpoint Charlies, a dive you can wash your clothes, eat southern bar food, grab a drink, and enjoy a show at. Regulars and a crowd of tourists flowed in from the street. Even some friends from Bellingham showed up and danced. At this point, the dub effects from Ting’s mixing console started becoming less of a novelty and more of an integral part of the live sound of YOGOMAN.

Before leaving New Orleans, I proposed a night of busking on Frenchman Street at he and Jac’s favorite spot to do so last year. This turned out to be very fun with many people stopping by to dance, clap, freestyle rap, sing along, and play percussion with us.

On the way back home YOGOMAN played Teddy’s Juke Joint in Zachary, Louisiana, just outside of Baton Rouge. Teddy’s is one of the few authentic Juke Joints still in existence. This joint has a rich history, is so down home and one of the best sounding places I’ve ever played music in. Teddy, a total character and industry buff, suited himself like a pimped out cowboy! We played there on a Friday and his wife cooked us bone in catfish, red beans and rice, potato salad and ribs authentic to the region. For those who remember the 3B Tavern in Bellingham, Teddy’s was familiar but centered around local blues. Cool memorabilia, instruments, lights, curiosities, pictures, records, and made style led to his customized DJ booth in the back. Teddy enjoyed our music enough to invite us back the next night to play his 70th birthday celebration with some of the best blues players in the nation arriving from as far as nine states away. A regular artist at Teddy’s and international musician, Sam Joyner, decked out in red alligator boots and red top hat, played keys with YOGOMAN adding a cool RnB/Caribbean flavor to my tunes. Evidently, Sam played in Prince’s band back in the early days!

There are many more tales from this road trip but you’ll have to ask us in person. A huge thanks to all who supported YOGOMAN on the road and who helped fund the trip through online donations. Hopefully we are still making the world a better place and bringing people together with YOGO music. Cheers!

Published in the May 2016 issue of What’s Up! Magazine