By Max McKeon
Photo by Pati Bobeck
New Orleans, Los Angeles and Scranton are separated by almost 1,300 miles, but that distance wouldn’t seem very far if you caught a rousing set by Indigo Moon Brass Band at Scranton bar The Bog. The (mostly) instrumental band has been igniting the NEPA music scene over the past five years with their blend of authentic New Orleans brass, funk and free jazz music. We sat down with Nick Driscoll (saxophone/vocals) to tell us a little about themselves and what we can expect from their set at next week’s Arts on the Square. They’ll open the Highway 81 Revisited Stage at 12:30 p.m.
H81R: You guys have definitely been making a mark on the music scene here for the past few years. How did Indigo Moon Brass Band originate as a band?
ND: That’s a funny story because the band is completely organic in almost every way. We all love New Orleans music, with some of us from there or have spent some time there in the past. It started with three of us – a drummer, sousaphone player, and me. We’d play in parks or on the streets sometimes getting chased by cops, in and around Wilkes-Barre. We’d hop in one vehicle, jump out, set up, and within five minutes start playing music. From the three of us, it went from four to five to now six of us. It just grew up from there.
H81R: With the authentic New Orleans brass the band is known for, you are playing music here that no one else is really doing. How has the reaction been to your music in the greater NEPA area?
ND: Well, people really are enjoying it. The funny thing is when we try to book shows. You tell the club owner or someone we have some horns, a sousaphone and a drummer, and they think it’s going to be a hip hop band or something. Instead, what we play is Beyonce, Michael Jackson, James Brown and Marvin Gaye. Once you see it and hear it, it clicks. It’s definitely party music, upbeat, danceable stuff. For us, our goal is to see people move around and start dancing. That’s our ultimate goal.
We play different places around here, but The Bog is kind of like our home base. In addition to the r&b and hip-hop type stuff, we always do traditional songs like “When the Saints Go Marching In” and other gospel traditions where we make people sing along. And, another thing that’s kind of out there is a free jazz segment. So it’s almost like a New Orleans tradition, funk and free jazz thing going on with our shows.
H81R: Do you play shows often or is it kind of hit-or-miss, playing shows sporadically?
ND: We don’t have a schedule or anything, but we do try to play shows out of the area or at different festivals. We have Arts on the Square coming up on July 26, and then First Friday in Scranton on Aug. 1. We’ll be walking through the streets playing music, literally, so that will be pretty cool. We’ve done parade day at The Bog and a Christmas show in the past, and we also do private shows as well. One of the coolest things we did last year was getting hired to sneak into the end of a wedding, unannounced, and lead the bride and groom through the streets of Scranton (at eleven o’clock at night) to the Radisson, almost like a parade. So we have a couple more of those things coming up, some more shows, and just going from there.
H81R: Last question – with Arts on the Square coming up next week, are you guys excited to see some other bands or people there?
ND: For me personally, I always like hearing people I’ve never heard before. I love a festival like this where there is so much going on, and you can go listen to different people and go “woah, that’s pretty cool.” I’m involved in the Heavy Blonde project that is there, so that’s pretty exciting. And I know some other friends that will be doing some things too!