The Hot Magnolias creates a unique blend of New Orleans-style traditional jazz and Bourbon Street funk to keep crowds engaged and moving. Formed in the summer of 2013, The Hot Magnolias quickly became a downtown Cincinnati favorite with some three-dozen performances and over 600 Facebook followers. They celebrated the 2014 New Year playing to a sold-out room at Arnold’s Bar and Grill, led the BockFest parade, and play weekly happy hour gigs at Japp’s, in OTR.
The Hot Magnolias are playing next at Arnold's Bar and Grill for their famous Halloween party on October 31st. We caught up with the band prior to the shindig!
Give us some background on The Hot Magnolias…
I moved to New Orleans in 2003 and spent 10 years there. I had to leave about a year after Katrina however and I came to Cincinnati for a job and really enjoyed my time here. When my Cincy contract was up I was able to return to NOLA and I went back mid 2008. For many reasons, family, economics and just plain exhaustion, I had decided to leave NOLA once again. This time it was my choice, I wasn't forced into it. I was able to find a wonderful opportunity in Cincy and decided that because I like it so well the last time, I would take another shot.
A couple months after moving downtown I started to look to put together a band. I had done original music my entire career, writing and recording many records, but this time I wanted to do something different. I was having a hard time finding the type of band that I was going to be passionate about so I put out a Craigslist ad looking for a "New Orleans 2nd Line/Party Band". To my pure amazement, I had more than 20 ppl reply.
I was unaware that CCM was such a force for jazz in the area, so I was able to put together a group pretty quickly. A year and a half later we are essentially the same group that was settled on in the beginning.
If I was going to do this music, which I absolutely loved, but never played before, it had to 100% authentic and true to its roots. And the players that make up this band are playing this material like they were born in the bayou!
What can one expect at a live The Hot Magnolias show?
If you've spent any time on Frenchman st, Fritzels, seen a Kermit Ruffins show, that's what you will see. I've been saying this for a while now, if we were playing at the Spotted Cat tonight, it would never occur to anyone that we were from Cincinnati. I would say that the only difference would be that we aren't 100% loyal to a single style of New Orleans music. We play the older, traditional material such as tunes like “Down by the Riverside” and material from The Preservation Hall, as well as some more modern material from groups like The New Orleans Funky Meters, Kermit Ruffins and The Rebirth Brass Band.
The band is a large one, 8 pieces. We are dedicated to the sound of New Orleans. We are a fun time and truly put everything we have into each show. I am proud of being a unique experience in this area. You won't find anything like it!
When did you decide that music was your calling?
For someone that is now so into and entrenched in Jazz, learning to play it better, perform it better, I grew up on very different music. I was into cheesy pop metal like Poison and Motley Crue when I was a kid. Had very long hair and thought I was going to be a rock star. And while I certainly dont follow that stuff anymore, it did teach me to sing. There were some very powerful singers in those bands and I learned a great deal about showmanship and craft.
What is next for The Hot Magnolias?
We never set out to be a "bar band" and we have been pretty steadfast in only playing 3 places, Japp's, Neon's and Arnold's. Using these 3 fantastic places as our 'homebase' we have been able to begin to reach out and do many different things.
Working with a production company for a roaring 20s gala, we play for the Cincinnati Lindy Hop Society. We are also playing the Cincinnati Preservation Society's 50th anniversary celebration...so things are really moving to more "events" that are looking for something different for their entertainment. We even do the occasional wedding for someone who wants a totally different celebration!
We will continue to introduce new material as the wealth of songs is nearly unending. I constantly return to New Orleans for "inspiration" and will ensure that we are keeping the flambeaus lit and the 2nd line marching!
Go grab a copy of the debut album, “918 Harmony Street” HERE!