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If you saw Jimmy Buffett's musical, Don't Stop the Carnival, at the Coconut Grove Playhouse last spring, they were the pit band. The Miami-based Iko-Iko have also popped up on Hollywood soundtracks: They recorded "Purple People Eater" (along with Buffett) for Robert Zemekis' Contact and "Don't Mess with the Voodoo" for Martin Scorsese's Cape Fear. But what Iko-Iko do best is perform their Cajun-flavored, Dr. John-influenced versions of the blues and rock 'n' roll.
Lead vocalist Graham Wood Drout and his bandmates -- guitarist Larry Williams, drummer Stewart Jean, bassist Michael Mennell, and multi-instrumentalists Ronald James Dziubla and Doug Leibinger -- recently released their third CD, Protected by Voodoo, an eleven-song, mixed bag of tricks and treats.
Drout's love for voodoo, comic books, and traditional folk tales inspires his lifestyle and his lyrics. "I love folk music and tales and mythology," says the bulky, bearded Drout. "To me voodoo is a powerful folk religion."
Listening to Voodoo one is drawn to real-life characters who might not otherwise merit attention. In "3 Fingered Fellers Named Shorty," for example, Drout sings: "Three-fingered fellers named Shorty/Grease the gears on the carnival rides/They shine your shoes down at the racetrack/And nobody cares when they die."
Drout, who was born in 1953, is also a big fan of snakes. "I was born in the year of the snake," he says. "Think about it: Every ambulance in America has one on it. It's a healing thing as well as a swamp thing."
Anyone interested in hearing Iko-Iko's down-and-dirty jambalaya mix of rock can see them perform in front of their poster-size banner -- featuring the image of a snake -- every Monday at Tobacco Road in Miami. They also play at Mango's in Fort Lauderdale every Wednesday. For more information about the group and soundbites from their CDs, check out their Website at www.iko-iko.com.