Born: June 12, 1976 Primary Instrument: Drums
Here's what music critic Brett Milano says about Mickey Bones in the Boston Pheonix;
There's probably a short list of rules for musicians who want to play authentic New Orleans sounds. First, you oughta be funky. You should eat a mess of crawfish and have your Professor Longhair down pat. Most of all you shouldn't come from Cambridge, Massachussetts.
Drummer/bandleader Mickey Bones has broken that last rule, but he's been behind most of the home grown bands who've played Cresent City music with any degree of credibility - starting with the Boogaloo Swamis whom he founded in the early 80's. Currently he leads no fewer than five bands, four of which make their recorded debut on the just-released Swamptone Sampler (on the Swamptone label, which Bones and his musical partner Joe Pete Wetherbee run from deep in the bayous of West Somerville).
Over coffee at the Middle East last week, Bones explained the real secret of of being a Louisiana-flavored drummer. I call it the slop factor. he said. You keep a steady beat and throw in these little rolls, (flams and) what they call ruffs. It's also knowing where the (music) came from; a lot of the New Orleans sound comes from the combination of West African beats and European melodies. Before I went to New Orleans, I was thinking too much about speed, putting that before the groove. Down there you learn that being fast doesn't mean it's groovy. I think the humidity makes people play that way. You don't learn it; you're forced into it by the weather conditions.
Bones learned his slop from the source, having temporarily moved to New Orleans in 1989 and spent two years commuting between jazz bands in the French Quarter and R+B acts uptown. During days he played street corners in the Quarter, and he saw an approach to live music that one doesn't find at home. I was playing blues on Royal Street with a guy named Augie Jr., and thats where I learned how to work the street if you're gonna play. You have to get right in peoples faces and get them to put money in the box. I mean, Augie used to chase people down the street if they hadn't put anything in the box. One time a transient street guy was trying to play flute with the band. The first time Augie told him not to do it; the second time he smashed his head against a fire hydrant. Fortunately the guy didn't die and Augie didn't get arrested.
Leading bands in Boston is presumably a more mellow gig. There's a wide variety of music on Bone's sampler CD. The Hot Tamale Brass Band do a high spirited take on Fats Domino's I'm Walkin' and an original New Cambridge March. Sticky Chicken are the oddest entry; they do unlikely versions of American folk songs (their version of Buffalo Gals is almost as wierd as Malcolm Mclaren's hip-hop version a couple of years back). That's my inspirational band, Bones says. I'm attempting to bring this to schools and direct it to the unsuspecting children - giving them the traditional songs they hate so much, but with new verve and different beats.