The Bingo! Parlour
Written by Dominique Minor
Monday, 20 October 2008 16:21
DM: How did the Bingo! Parlour stage tent come about?
RR: It's been a concept we wanted to do for quite awhile. Stephen Rehage produces Voodoo, and we worked with him on some other small projects, like Preservation Hall and some other things. It was in 2006 was when I first got with him to talk about stuff. We did the first Preservation Hall Tent at Voodoo with him that year. We wanted to add a kind of dirtier element, and a different element than what they had so far. With the Hall Tent it brought in more traditional New Orleans music and elements. In 2007 we asked for another proposal [which was the Bingo! Parlour Tent], and yeah, we just kind of winged it last year. I think it went well.
DM: What gave you the idea to bring all these acts together in the Parlour initially?
RR: They're our friends. We drink with them. And we started to think, “Wouldn't it be cool if...”
DM: How was the Bingo! Parlour Tent accepted at Voodoo Fest?
RR: Dude! It was sick (laughs)! I'm not afraid to say I think we totally crushed it last year. In the same way, the tent was kind of highlighting all the things that played there musically. I think it brought our community together, too, particularly the key players of Bingo! Show. As far as how people received us, it was a total family vibe. There were a lot people who didn't leave the Bingo! Parlour. The Noisician Coalition, it's kind of Bingo! Show's own marching band, which is led by Mr. The Turk/Matt Vaughn. It's his brainchild. It's a marching band that plays with handmade instruments. It's like a lot of modified electronic stuff, there's not a real instrument in the entire band.
DM: So, it's very non-traditional?
RR: It's about as non-traditional as it gets.
LM: Their instrumentation kind of looks like Radio Shack vomited.
RR: And the band hung out during all three days. It was a real family atmosphere. It was cool because the whole point of it is to put all these acts [playing the Parlour Tent] in the national spotlight. And more importantly, it's in Louisiana. You know there's all these kids that live in Metairie, or something, and don't know all this cool shit is in their backyard essentially. I don't know what the kids listen to nowadays, but it's fun to let them know all this shit is happening around the corner.
LM: That's the real mission, to give a home and a spotlight [to these artists] on the national stage; and much as we can, for the downtown music scene and all its sort of dirty bohemian eccentricities and eclectic style.
DM: With the non-local artists that play the stage, do you try to get those who reflect the message and sentiment of the Bingo! Parlour?
RR: Yeah, like-minded acts. We have a theme going. The national acts we have are The Butthole Surfers, Man Man, Shudder To Think, and...
LM: The Gutter Twins.
RR: If you would have told me ten years ago that The Butthole Surfers would be playing in a tent I put together I wouldn't have believed you.
DM: Are there any special events that are going to happen in the Tent this year?
RR: Yeah. The Bingo! Show is performing all three days, and they're making three different presentations. They're doing the Red show, the Black show, and the Gold show. They'll all be different moods, and completely different presentations than anyone's ever seen before. It's going to be based on what they do with it, and we're hoping it will all come together.
LM: It's three distinct themes.
DM: As far as putting everything together, do the group members hammer out all the details? Or, is it something they improvise on the spot?
RR: Well, both, but it's generally dictated by the audience. At our Le Chat Noir shows, something fucked up happens and it has nothing to do with us.
DM: Like fucked up in good sense?
RR: Oh, it's wonderful. I mean, I think the strength of what we do is dependent upon making something out of nothing. I don't think I've told his story, but one night at Le Chat there was this really, really drunk girl. And I'm doing my thing [emceeing on stage] and she rips the mic out of my hand, and says “Look, all you motherfuckers! I'm from New Orleans...I mean, I'm from New York, but I...fuck. Somebody stole my friend's fucking purse. One of you motherfuckers! And on the way out, I'm gonna search every single one of you fuckers!” I look back and say, “You guys, can I have a little search music?” and the band starts playing some search music. Then, Mr. The Turk jumps up and they have all sorts of spotlights looking around theatre. This goes on for about five minutes. Next thing you know, some girl in the audience who's dressed like a Candy Striper jumps up on the stage with the purse. Apparently, this girl was so fucking wasted that she left it in the bathroom. So, the girl dressed as a Candy Striper is holding up this purse, and our drummer for some reason starts doing a gospel-style backbeat. And next thing you know, Clint [the lead singer] starts singing in a gospel-style, “Ain't nobody gonna steal your purse in here, hallelujah!” But as far as planning, yeah we plan–-sort of. We're really planning for Voodoo, but it's with giving room to the performers to improvise because it makes it a lot easier. We don't rehearse a lot.
DM: If you had to recommend a color choice for a Voodoo performance, which one would it be?
LM: Well, you know we're going say all three!
DM: Right, but if you had to choose?
RR: We're going to have special guests for all three nights. Friday night, it's going to be Noisician Coalition. Saturday night is going to be Vermillion Lies. They'll be performing at the Red show on Saturday. And Sunday we're going to have Fleur De Tease Burlesque, and some other things we can't tell you about now. I don't know...Sunday is going to be a sledgehammer, like it was last year. The line up at the Parlour goes: Bones out of Baton Rouge, then the Tin Men with the Valparaiso Men's Chorus.
LM: The Valparaiso Men's Chorus consists of a large number of drunken men who sing in call-and-response sea shanties with Alex McMurray [of Tin Men]. Men from the Valparaiso Men's Chorus range from drunken music fans to artists like Luke Allen from The Happy Talk Band. In terms of family events, it's where everybody blows off a little steam and puts on a happy drunken sailor show.
RS: And after that, it's The Bingo! Show. Then, The Butthole Surfers play, and we close out with the Morning 40 Federation. And that's the Gold show.
DM: What's the overall feeling with everything behind-the-scenes?
RR: I'm fucking pumped man! We got a circus tent this year. It's a big one.
DM: Is it bigger than last year's tent?
LM: And round. It's literally a big top circus tent.
DM: Are you renting it from a circus?
LM: Yes. They can only use it for some many months out of the year. It's an expensive thing, so they get some of the money back by renting it out. We went out on the internet and found it. Then we leg-wrestled with the powers-that-be, and they went for it.
RR: We're in the same location as last year.
LM: A nice feature in the big top tent is that it's round, there's going to be more ability to see the stage for audience members because they're going to be able to spread out sideways. In addition to that, we're going to have the tent rolled up so that as many people as they want can see the stage.
DM: Is the big top something you're going to stick with in the future?
RR: Fuckin' A.
LM: Boy, we sure hope so. Hopefully bigger.
DM: It would be cool if the tent eventually took over the entire park and the headliners were playing in your tent.
RR: You think about these national festivals, and how many cities could really pull this off? It's so socially intertwined in New Orleans. You can't get that anywhere else.
LM: At the end of the day the national acts are only as good as the attention they draw to the local scene. That's really the real mission. The main stage line-up is amazing, it's beautiful. Our job is to find, as we said, the like-minded national acts who will bring an audience that will understand what it is that our local artists are doing. There are people that are coming from all over the country, there are people that are coming from other places in Louisiana, and they should all know what we've got going on here, because they're gonna love it is the bottom line. If they like the bands that are playing, they're gonna love the bands that we're bringing from home.
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