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Bridging the Gap

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According to the U.S. Census figures, Louisiana is ranked near the top in the country for having the highest percentage of people who are born in-state who remain in-state. That could be one of the reasons why there are so many musically inclined families in Louisiana. Zydeco features the Williams and the Ardoins. For blues there are the Thomases of Baton Rouge. In New Orleans there are the Marsalises, the Nevilles, the Batistes, the Lasties and the Frenches, among many others.

This Saturday evening at Tipitina's, members of the Malone, Bohren and Clements families are coming together onstage in this most familial of seasons for the second annual "Chilluns" show. This two-generation show will feature the Malones (siblings Johnny and D'Arcy and father Dave), the Clements (daughter Annie and father Cranston), and the Bohrens (father Spencer and son Andre).

Andre Bohren, the drummer for Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes, hatched the idea for this family union. "I ran into D'Arcy after not having seen her in 10 years or so," Andre recalls. "We did a big show with me, Johnny, D'Arcy and our parents, and I started thinking about how much fun it would be to be in a band with these singers, because I can't sing. Then I saw Annie Clements play with her dad at the [Howlin'] Wolf, and that was that."

Bohren kept his idea mainly to himself, but mentioned it to Harry Hardin, one of the members of Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes. Harry then proceeded to book them a gig and, in Andre's words, "We sort of threw it all together and put on the show."

For Andre, this is no ordinary gig: "It's amazing. They're all top-notch musicians. I mean, the dads have been doing it since before we all were born, you know."

The gig last year featured basically the same lineup as this year. With the musical background they all share, there are plenty of songs to choose from. Last year there was a varied set list, and this year Andre promises more of the same. "Last year we put together lists of songs that we all wanted to play," Andre says. "We're going to do some soul, some Motown, some rhythm and blues, some Beatles. We're also going to cover some of our dads' songs, so we'll do some Cranston songs, some of my dad's tunes, and some of Dave's songs. We'll do some of Dave's songs that haven't been too 'Radiator-ized.'

Dave Malone, the Radiators' guitarist, also is looking forward to doing these songs: "I've been singing with my kids since they were born. I've used them as free background singers on my demos. We've always done coffeehouse stuff -- you know, sitting around at home singing Beatles tunes."

If last year's show is any indication, this performance should be terrific. Last year's was full of joy and glee; the audience could tell how much fun the musicians were having playing together and that got them into that vibe even more. It had the spirit of a great family holiday party without the obnoxious cousins from out of state or the uncle who eats all the biscuits.

The Chilluns show should not be confused with another fun family gathering, Spencer Bohren's Annual Snug Harbor Christmas Concert. This show features Bohren with siblings Andre, Corinna and Tucker; D'Arcy and Johnny Malone; Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes; the G-Strings; and older musicians Tony Green, Washboard Chaz, and Florida harmonica player Jab Wilson.

Dave Malone says playing with his children is a different experience than playing with his regular band. "I love singing, but the Radiators, that is not really what we do," he says. "Singing with the kids is great, and musically it works well. Of course the chemistry between us is great, but I'm biased."

This show promises to have a little bit of both. They performed a warm-up show in Pensacola, Fla., earlier this month with Andre, D'Arcy Malone and Johnny Malone playing with Spencer Bohren, so they had a chance to put some of the songs onstage. Andre says it was definitely "exciting." And, even though everybody in this band is a veteran musician, Andre says this is a different kind of gig.

"The chemistry is different. The three Malones don't even have to discuss who is going to take which harmony parts. They open up their mouths, and it just comes out. And then there's Johnny and D'Arcy screwing around being brother and sister. There are a lot of family jokes, I suppose. My favorite moment of last year's show was one of those. D'Arcy looked at her dad and said, 'Dad, be good!' That cracked me up."

Family tradition: Annie Clements, Andre Bohren, - Johnny Malone and D'Arcy Malone will perform with - their parents as the Chilluns on Saturday at - Tipitina's. - JEFF LANDRY
  • Jeff Landry
  • Family tradition: Annie Clements, Andre Bohren, Johnny Malone and D'Arcy Malone will perform with their parents as the Chilluns on Saturday at Tipitina's.

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