The picture on the right was taken by Eric Clapton of Emile as a baby at London Zoo in 1965 with legendary New Orleans musicians Louis Nelson and George Lewis. So there was no doubt where Emile’s career would be going.
Emile spent 10 years living and working in New Orleans with some of the top musicians in the world in this line of music. He’d been playing on Bourbon St with his Godfather Harold Dejan and also been working with Fats Domino’s side men when they weren’t on the road. He often played, and still does, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival. Then suddenly he found himself back in Europe asking himself ”what do I want to do next?”
The answer came on tour while riding to work across a Swiss mountain on a snowcat with trumpeter Paul Bonner who he’d just met. Paul said he wanted to form a band in London, England playing contemporary New Orleans style music, Emile went home and thought about the idea and a month later the band was born.
They played in London for a few months but knew something was missing. It was then that Emile persuaded his brother Ben to join on vocals and bass. Ben came more from the rhythm ‘n’ blues side of town and had been working with his own band as guitarist, pianist and singer both in the U.S and in London. Emile knew if he could get him to write some songs that kept that rhythms of New Orleans and blended them with some fresh melodies and lyrics that they’d be onto something. The collective idea, between the three of them, was to stay close to the roots of New Orleans music, both old and new, and combine it with the sounds and experiences of living back in London.
They were playing (as they still do) a selection of tunes from their favourite artists such as Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Elvis and others whilst adding more and more original songs written by Ben or co-written by Ben and pianist Tom Kincaid. But still keeping close to the sounds and flavours of the music they loved. So when you heard, or now hear, their original material, you feel as if you’d heard it before. It’s instantly likeable and kind of familiar at the same time without actually copying. We’re often asked “Who’s that song by? Jerry Lee Lewis, Professor Longhair, Chuck?” “No, it’s one of our own actually”.
So here they are a number of years later, bolder and stronger than ever. They’ve played all over the place in all kinds of venues, tv, radio shows for the BBC, festivals, parties, clubs, everywhere you can name. Emile even played the Royal Albert Hall on a Friday night and Wembley Stadium the following day!… A great way to make a living. The band, collectively or with other projects, play such events as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival, BBC’s ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, London’s Camden Roundhouse, private functions for the queen, the list goes on. The band are now based in London but play all over the world.