When he was a teenager, Tim Adde was in the marching band at East Jefferson High School in New Orleans. The Big Easy native, now in his forties, long ago removed a pin from his old uniform, and now the silver lyre and wreath -- attached to his black beret -- sparkles under the stage lights whenever he performs.
As bass player for the alternative-blues outfit No Busfare Johnson and the Bustones, Adde is gearing up for Mardi Gras. "My grandfather was a Dixieland drummer on Bourbon Street," he says, referring to Leo Adde, who is remembered not only by his grandson but by the Dixieland Hall of Fame. This year, however, the younger Adde will celebrate Mardi Gras in Hollywood, Florida. The Bustones are booked to perform during next week's Fiesta Tropicale: South Florida's Mardi Gras, a four-day, New Orleans-style, food-and-music festival that includes a parade.
Although the band's music is blues-based, it features elements of Cajun zydeco, rock, rockabilly, jazz, and even spoken word, which stems from Johnson's background as poet and former beatnik. The Bustones' use of sax, Dixieland trumpet, and swing-style vocals makes the band an appropriate fit for a Fat Tuesday carnival. And the band members only recently discovered how well they fit together.
The Bustones formed just six months ago, and already they've laid down tracks for a self-titled debut CD scheduled for release January 30. No Busfare, a.k.a. Jack Johnson, who sings, writes songs, and plays keyboard and trumpet in the band, was already acquainted with sax player Anthony Lalli when he started assembling the Bustones. He'd heard drummer Bernd Daume play a gig with another group and invited him to join. Daume brought along long-time friend Frankie Lance, a Miami guitarist who'd played with Adde in another band. During an audition Johnson was impressed by the chemistry between Adde and Lance, in particular. "Everyone's life coincides at a given moment for some unusual reason," Johnson reflects.
Although the band is named after Johnson, Lance, who also writes songs, is recognized as the "bus driver." During a recent set at the Sandbox in Hollywood, it was easy to see why: Smiling under the brim of a silver-studded, Stevie Ray Vaughn-style hat, Lance swayed to and fro with his guitar, and his large, gentle presence seemed to set the band's pace.
Drummer Daume, a native of what used to be known as East Germany, considers the band members' age group, fortysomething, a bonus. After all, he asserts, they've been honing their musical skills for many years. The experience shows in the band's tight playing, which allows its members to be adventurous and creative without worrying that a song will fall apart. Daume says the band shows so much promise that Europe may be a possible market for its music. "The world is wide open," he adds.
In fact a mention of the band in an internationally distributed music magazine has brought requests for recordings of the band's music from as far away as Brazil. At the moment, however, the Bustones are busy enough playing a regular Thursday-night gig at Sneakers Sports Grill in Hollywood and preparing for Fiesta Tropicale. Beyond putting out a CD, Johnson says his band isn't sure what it will do next.
One thing's for certain: The Bustones are going to enjoy the upcoming celebration. As their song "Party @ the Mardi Gras" suggests: "Ain't no one alone, we're all in it together, lay your troubles down, and party at the Mardi Gras."
Fiesta Tropicale: South Florida's Mardi Gras, takes place January 21 to 23 in downtown Hollywood. No Busfare Johnson and the Bustones play January 22 at 11 p.m. and January 23 at 2 p.m. Admission prices range from $3 to $5. Call 954-926-3377. See "Concerts For the Week" next issue for a complete schedule.