Blue Orleans is a Kansas City-based band. They mix New Orleans standards with funk, zydeco, blues and more to form their diverse sound. Guitarist and vocalist Mike Roberts recently discussed the band’s passion for NOLA, eating a ton of oysters and their love of CrossroadsKC. Blue Orleans plays Alligator Fest at Crossroads KC May 28th with Bon Temp Soul Accordion Band.
What do you remember most about your first trip to New Orleans?
One of our goals was to eat 100 oysters, easily met. Rickie Lee Jones at Tipitina’s. We were first in line, front row center, she blew me away! We met her standing outside before the show, where she very graciously signed old record albums. Beignets in the morning with chicory coffee, 100 more oysters! Marching with the Queen of Bourbon Street. Trees glistening with the beads of ancient marches. Spanish moss, graceful architecture, lush gardens.
What do you love most about NOLA?
In no particular order:
The Quarter, music everywhere, responsibly farmed, best oysters EVER and oyster bar hopping, marching, Tipitina’s, beignets, the hot humid weather, quiet electric street cars, meeting people, both the hospitable local color and travelers seriously digging their 1st or 50th NOLA experience, happiness all around. Did I mention oysters??
What first got you interested in the music of New Orleans?
Dr. John and the Wild Magnolias had this spooky, swampy thing
that drew me into their world.
How did Blue Orleans get started?
Met a New Orleans bassist named KG & he makes it go BOOM!
He left 5 months later to help relocate his mother & brother after Katrina. Add Paul Matthews to that rhythm and don’t look back. Keep on marchin’!
You’ve played CrossroadsKC before. What do you enjoy most about playing CrossroadsKC?
CrossroadsKC is a great venue. The last show we did there was with Dr. John, who put on an amazing show! I love the casual atmosphere, with wood chips on the ground, lots of room to dance..etc. The stage is great, & sound is top notch! The stage crew & sound engineers know what there doing. Grinders (the restaurant in back), had great pizza. A very fun place to play or see a show!
What advice would you give to musicians just starting out?
My advice to musicians just starting out would be to listen, in more ways than one. Listen to all styles, & try not to limit yourself to one genre. Listen to what everyone in your group is doing, & try to stay out of the way, or make your statement when its appropriate. Keep listening! The music business is not an easy one. You really have to love it, & do it for the love of music. Getting along with people is just as important as being a great player, if you want to do it professionally.
What is your creative process when songwriting?
I am usually inspired to write a song when a melody appears in my consciousness from Lord knows where. The emotional tone of the melody will inform the lyrics; sad, angry, joyful, etc. and the rest is just bad poetry. Rarely do I set out to write a tune about a particular topic and when I have they sound more contrived than the ones that manifest of their own accord. I hesitate to attribute my creative output to a muse, but ya know, it makes as much sense as anything else.
Do you have a favorite quote or motto that you live by?
My father once told me, after listening to me complain about the many creditors and evil corporations whom I saw as out to do me and my financial security great harm, he said, “Son, you’re alright! Hell, they can’t eat you.” He was right. They can call, they can litigate, they can threaten, but in the end, they can’t eat you. A little perspective always helps.