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Vaud and the Villains at the Satellite on Monday May 30th, 2011

Some people suffer from nostalgia, nostalgia of their childhood, of what they have known and left behind, but some people can go back in the past and when they are talented enough to bring back the past with all its exuberance and colors, nostalgia can be a very good thing.

Vaud and the Villains bring back New Orleans jazz music on stage in Los Angeles thanks to actor Andy Comeau and his wife Dawn Lewis, who see it as an ‘homage to family legend, Vaud Comeau, a revivalist charlatan turned preacher in Louisiana in the 1930s’.

But any of their shows, like the one they played on Monday night at the Satellite, is more than music, it’s a dance spectacle, a fun musical, half theater, half cabaret show, with around 16 people on stage (and sometimes more), a buoyant and colorful cocktail of saxophones, trumpets, violins, banjos, keyboards and upright bass, with many female male voices, with one more powerful than the other. There’s no way someone can dislike this kind of music, it’s uplifting and engaging, joyous and full of life. Seeing the enthusiastic crowd, dancing and participating, the band seem to have built a real follow-up around here as they have regularly played several LA clubs for a while.

They incarnate enough characters to populate several Tennessee Williams’ plays that could be produced by John Landis (Blues Brothers era), with a cast that could have been named by a rap artist. There were tenor sax ‘Rap Sheet,’ Lead vocalist ‘Silky’, percussionist ‘The Animal’, trombone player ‘The Wolf’, trumpet, saxophone and tuba players the ‘Overstreet brothers’, fiddle player ‘Big Daddy’, percussionist ‘Blind Dog’, double bass-banjo players ‘Low Down Kate’ and Mr. Jelly’, guitarists ‘One String’ and ‘Preacher’, banjo player ‘Babyface O’Conner’, female singers ‘Honeychild’ and ‘Lady Creole, and dancers ‘Peaches Mahoney’ and ‘Shady Sadie Sinclair’.

With their blend of old time New Orleans jazz-gospel-soul, heavily relaying on brass instruments and voices (although banjos, violins and double bass had some nice parts), they brought back the glamorous melodrama of a big band during the prohibition times, with perhaps more excess and some over the top performers. It was church gospel meets saloon brothel, and cheerful marches sliced up by these fast banjo parts.

The two beautiful Burlesque-Barbie-doll dancers made three apparitions during the show, wearing different costumes each time, from saloon girls to Al Caponesque bad boys, dancing all legs apart and crawling on stage, just what the crowd wanted.

Lead singers ‘Silky’ and ‘Lady Creole’ had both compelling voices, and they particularly had a lot of fun during one of their last songs which was a mash-up between the ‘Iko Iko’ song and The Jackson 5’s ‘I want you back’, but it is was Honeychild who stole the show many times, with her impressive energy, this girl was on fire from start to finish, and she actually closed the show with a chilling rendition of Otis Redding’s ‘Try a little Tenderness’, barely a departure from their previous repertoire.

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