It's never too long before another visit from the Neville Brothers. The New Orleans royalty are still going strong some three-plus decades after their 1978 debut, and nearly five decades after most of them got started in the music business. The Nevilles have a co-bill with Dr. John and the Lower 911 at the House of Blues on Friday.
It's never too long before another visit from the Neville Brothers. The New Orleans royalty are still going strong some three-plus decades after their 1978 debut, and nearly five decades after most of them got started in the music business.
Sure, Art, Aaron, Cyril and Charles have lost a little off their fastball over the years, but when they're on, the band is still as spirited, spicy and irresistible as gumbo – and can and do wipe the floor with funk and R&B bands a fraction of their age.
The Nevilles have a co-bill with Dr. John and the Lower 911 at the House of Blues on Friday. The Patriot Ledger caught up with Aaron Neville from an upstate New York tour stop last week, when he was gearing up and plenty busy. (Aaron and Charles will also be returning to the area Dec. 15 to play a Christmas-themed concert at Showcase Live in Foxborough.)
PL: The Brothers are back on the road, and we're getting you in Boston for the first time in what feels like awhile.
AN: Yeah, yeah, it's been awhile. We've been doing a lot of traveling. Just did the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan. We were in Colorado, Kansas, packing grooves all over, man. But Boston, yeah, been a while. Always nice to get up that way, and I think last time we played in what I called Wor-sess-ster, which I said until someone told me it was Wor-...wait, what is it?
PL: Worcester. Wuh-ster. Say it real fast.
AN: Wuh-ces. Wuh-cesster. OK, whatever. [laughs] But we've played a bunch of places up there, and I can't remember the name of the place I played last week, so it's hard to remember where we played last.
PL: No worries, of course. So it's been about five years since the most recent Neville Brothers album [2004’s “Walkin’ in the Shadow of Life”], but I understand you guys are working some new material.
AN: Yeah, we're always working on new stuff. I actually do a lot of writing in my BlackBerry. I started using that as my notebook, you know, the little Memo Pad? I put some lyrics down and then will get together with someone who's more musical and put it all together. There's a lot going on right now.
PL: What else can you tell us about?
AN: Well, I'm working on a thing with Dr. John. I usually do a song with him during the show when he plays with us, usually something we both grew up liking or something that sounds like what we grew up listening to. And I'm also coming up on the 50th anniversary of when I first worked with Allen Toussaint, so we're writing and working on a few things, too.
PL: Will there be an album with Toussaint?
AN: Yeah, we've been writing and we're going to get something good out of it. We're also [the Nevilles] going to look to releasing some live stuff, and recording some more shows.
PL: So the balance is easy then, keeping busy with both the Neville Brothers and other projects?
AN: Yeah, the Neville Brothers is like the Enterprise, you know? The mothership. Everything else is a side project. It's still fun. It's always fun, and it always will be fun.
PL: I read that in the past year, you finally returned to the New Orleans area. I know after Katrina, you lost your home, you left and then lived for a while in Memphis.
AN: Right, I'm in Covington [La.] now, about an hour north of New Orleans. It's still depressing, you know? There's so much that's the same as before but there's still a lot that's been waiting for a long time to get better.
PL: What was the feeling like in 2008 when the Nevilles returned, at last, to play the closing slot at Jazz Fest?
AN: It was amazing. It really was, and we did it again this year. I don't think I said it on my Twitter, though, I didn't have it yet.
PL: Aha, you Tweet?
AN: Yes I do. It's cool, it's a good place to tell people what I'm doing and also mention gigs that are coming up. I like to read what other people put on there, too.
PL: Are your brothers on Twitter, too?
AN: I don't think so.
PL: So you're the progressive one?
AN: Yeah. It keeps my fingers working.
The Patriot Ledger