New Orleans funk/soul band The Mumbles are set to take the Cafe Nola stage Thursday night at 9:30 p.m. We recently caught up with vocalist/keyboardist/bassist Keith Burnstein to talk a little about what we can expect from their show, what it was like recording their most recent record in their hometown, and where visitors might be able to find a great place to eat should they be down by the bayou anytime soon. For those who might be looking to find out more information on the show, click here. Then come on back to Frederick Playlist to learn a thing or three about these soul-pop-funksters!
How and when did you guys form? Did you have any specific goals when you first got together and if so, what were they?
In 2003, I moved to New York City and put an ad on Craig’slist that said “I need a drummer who can swing like a wrecking ball.” Ethan (longtime Mumbles drummer) was one of the people who answered. He had a band that needed songs; I had songs, but no band. We got together and played, and it felt good, but It wasn’t until the rest of the band left one night that the alchemy happened. With just keys and drums we found we could create more sound and energy than the five piece band we had going. After that, our only goal was to play as much as possible, and serve the songs I was writing.
Have you been to Frederick before? If so, what do you think of the town?
We’ve been to Frederick before many times; I think Frederick mixes small-town warmth with cosmopolitan awareness.
I see your most recent album was your first to be entirely recorded in New Orleans. What led to you guys deciding on that, and can you take us through the experience?
Well, it was a very natural decision for the band to record at home; we all know so many world-class players in town and finally got the chance to use them! Basically, we started the record with engineer Jacques Delatour, at the now-closed-to-the-public Fudge Studios in Uptown New Orleans. It’s a beautiful space that used to be owned by the guys from Better than Ezra but was recently sold to Trombone Shorty. Anyhoo, the process began with the trio playing the tunes the way we play them live every night — me on piano and bass, Ethan on drums, and Ejric (also a full-time member) on tenor sax. Then, we built up and brought in our buddies to play brass and woodwinds, guitar and bass, pedal steel and backing vocals. After a few months and a lot of arranging, we had a record that we are very proud of.
Speaking of New Orleans, what’s your favorite part of the New Orleans music scene? Any good bands we should know about?
My favorite thing about music in New Orleans is that being a musician is an important and respected job. For that reason, there is ample opportunity for talented and motivated people to not only make a living, but to thrive while refining their art. I moved to New Orleans to find out where the music I was playing came from, and in doing so, found out so much more than I ever even knew existed. The rhythm and style and funk come from below in this city, and they take over your heart and your body, and then you think about what you’re doing. That is real funk, real jazz, real music. I would recommend checking out the great Lynn Drury, the best songwriter we have in our fair city.
I see you guys are not signed to a label yet. How important is it for you guys to be associated with a specific imprint these days? Have you had talks with any labels yet? If not, where would you like to land?
We have been on a label before, but really we found that they weren’t helping us any more than we could help ourselves. I’ve spoken to some people recently, but we are still looking for the right fit, a mixture of financial support/promotion and distribution mixed with a desire to help us develop. I would like to be on a great indie label like ATO or Alligator records.
What can we expect from your show at Cafe Nola?
Tunes from the new album, played with everything we have. With every performance, no matter where it is, I aim to transport myself and, hopefully, the audience.
Finally, because you’re from a city so famous for their great places to dine out, what are three of the best places to eat in New Orleans and why?
I’m a vegetarian, so I’ll give you mine: 1) Bacchanal, 2) Lolas on Esplanade Avenue, 3) Three Muses on Frenchmen Street, where you can catch the Mumbles regularly and dine on a tofu or beef bulgogi bowl. Wherever you are, don’t forget to tip the band!