Hidden Gems: Local Artists at the Little Gem

Jon Roniger

Jon Roniger is truly a unique slice of American songwriting, blending New Orleans style jazz and blues with folk story telling. Touring internationally since 2007, his last record "Charmed Life" saw regular spins on BBC, BBC Whales and BBC Scotland and Nationally broadcast Radio Amsterdam. His 2010 release “Someone Else” and the 2007 release “Charmed Life” have placements on HGTV, Platinum Babies and the theme song for a UK based company Bedford for Beds. Roniger’s song “Redneck Riviera” has been licensed for a full length feature film called "Island of Fantasy" due for a Fall 2011 release. His new project, “NOLA Rolls” is due for a Fall 2011 release and showcases the timeless quality of a seasoned songwriter and the unique musical style that only a New Orleans native could produce.

Recently selected for The 2011 French Quarter Festival and The 2011 Key West Songwriters Festival, Roniger has played such renowned venues as Nashville's Blue Bird Cafe, Atlanta's Eddie's Attic, San Francisco's Great American Music Hall and New Orleans' House of Blues.

Alexandra Scott

Lynn Drury's compositions are as rich and full of visual imagery as life itself. Often autobiographical, each song is carefully crafted around its initial inspiration, ranging from love and loss to beauty and butterflies. Her sound combines the twang and grit of her native Mississippi and the funky grooves of her adopted home of New Orleans.

Drury has performed live on radio and television, and receives frequent local and national radio airplay. Offbeat Magazine dubbed "Spun" the Best New Release of 2003 and presented Drury with an award for Best Emerging Singer/Songwriter in 2004. She was also nominated for Best Roots-Rock Album ("All You need") at the Big Easy Awards in 2006.

Upon moving to New Orleans in 1995, Drury took guitar lessons with local musician Chris Wood. Almost right away, the budding singer-songwriter began performing originals and covers at small venues around town. She also frequented open mic nights at bigger clubs like the Howlin' Wolf and Tipitinas, eventually landing a weekly spot at Margaritaville, where she played opposite legends like Eddie Bo and Chris Thomas King for 5 years.

After honing her musical skills on the bandstand, Drury released her first CD of original compositions, "Crossing Frequencies," in 2001. Over the next two years, she released a pair of discs — "Blackberry Winter" and "Spun" — backed up by local group Bad Mayo (Dave Stover, Chris Mulé, Trevor Brooks and Chris Pylant). She also played at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival every year from 2000-2005.

With the help of Jimbo Mathus (Squirrel Nut Zippers), Drury began working on her fourth album, "All You Need". Progress was interrupted by Hurricane Katrina and the epic failure of the federal levee system in New Orleans that put much of the city under water, so she finished the recording at Delta Recording Studios in Clarksdale, Mississippi. The disc was mixed at the famous Piety Street Studios in New Orleans and released in 2006, scoring Drury her first national distribution deal with indie label 219 Records .

After Katrina hit, Drury relocated to Memphis, where she performed at museums and galleries. She also participated in the Diaspora house concerts series in Brooklyn (appearing on the resulting recording), produced by composer Nick Balaban. She was also featured in No Depression magazine.

Drury returned to New Orleans 2007, gigging around town at major venues like dba, the Maple Leaf, and the House of Blues (opening for Joan Armatrading). She began performing with Italian guitarist Roberto Luti, with whom she moved to Livorno, Italy, in 2008. The duo toured and performed extensively in Europe, including opening for blues-rock legend Robben Ford at the Lake Trasimano Festival. The resulting live CD, "Dal Vivo," released in January 2009, features their performances at festivals all over Italy.

In 2009, while splitting time between Italy and New Orleans, Drury teamed up with Louisiana songstress Kim Carson to form the Tipsy Chicks, playing their unique blend of honky tonk and rockabilly all over the American south and Europe. By August of that year, Drury moved back to New Orleans for good and reunited with her former drummer Chris Pylant and rebuilt her band, which still performs regularly at local and regional venues as well as at Jazz Fest and French Quarter Fest.

New Orleans-based nonprofit Threadhead Records Foundation awarded Drury a grant in February 2010 to help produce her next album, "Sugar On the Floor," consisting of 12 original compositions, represents a mixture of her Mississippi grit / New Orleans groove and grander styles with horns and strings arranged by Matt Perrine. The stellar lineup includes Alex McMurray (Tin Men, Royal Fingerbowl), Tommy Malone (Subdudes), Ivan Neville, Helen Gillet, Bill Malchow, and Eric Traub. Produced by Carlo Nuccio (who also plays drums on the album), much of the disc was recorded and engineered by Jacques DeLatour at Fudge Recording Studios in New Orleans.

The Mumbles

The Mumbles are a tiny band with a mighty sound. The brainchild of pianist/singer-songwriter, Keith Burnstein, along with drummer Ethan Shorter and saxophonist Ejric Bernhardt, their art is defined first and foremost by the quality and craftsmanship of songs. Using two keyboards, drum kit, saxophone, and three part vocal harmonies, the Mumbles combine soul music with old time jazz to create original "pop songs in the key of partying down" (Time Out New York). Theirs is a new American songbook, one that draws as much from Tin Pan Alley as it does from modern geniuses like Jeff Tweedy, Keith Jarret and Dr. John.

Keith and Ethan met playing in the rhythm section of a 14 piece hip hop orchestra in New York City, soon striking out on their own in 2006 to write tunes that would become Mumbles mainstays. After a couple of national tours, they moved to New Orleans in 2009 and added saxophone virtuoso, Ejric Bernhardt. The new trio delights in a dynamic that "...marries the bedroom intimacy of a singer-songwriter, with the expansive musical prowess of a seasoned jazz outfit" (Seven Days Vermont).

The band has five albums to date: 2008's Once Eponymous, which has been called "Lounge music for the super hip" (Roanoke Times); 2009's Muddy Mantras, recorded with female vocalist, Meredith Claire; 2011's benchmark record, Annunciation St, and 2012's Last Night Wore the Crown, recorded live at the legendary Tipitina's in Uptown New Orleans.

The boys are very proud to announce the June 2014 release of their newest recording, Syncopatience. It is their first studio effort made entirely in New Orleans and features local luminaries on new Mumbles classics "Miracle Elixir", "Heart and Soul, Sugar in My Bowl", and "The Relative Ease of Being Lonely" ,et al. This album, along with their previous studio releases, can be purchased at shows and all major internet retailers.

Margie Perez

MARGIE PEREZ is a dynamic and vivacious performer specializing in a versatile blend of Blues, Pop, and New Orleans Funk. She has performed with her fabulous Funky Band at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the French Quarter Festival, the Freret Street Festival, and in 2009 she charmed an international audience at the Radio Indigo & Blues Festival in Bangalore India. “Offbeat” magazine says Margie “is one of the hardest working musicians in New Orleans.”

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