Words by: Andrew Wetzler
Images by: Jay Skolnick
Raw Oyster Cult :: 3.23.14 :: Funky Biscuit :: Boca Raton, FL
Anyone who spent time in New Orleans beginning in the late 1970’s and who partook in the
live music scene gained an intimate appreciation of The Radiators. They performed
constantly, they played deep into the night and they developed a fiercely loyal following.
Although they will never be confused with the First Family of New Orleans music, their
role and significance is etched in the bowels of the city and three decades’ worth of
Tulane alums across the country. As The Funky Biscuit show attendance attested, The
Radiators have sustained their audience even after the band has faded into the Napoleon
The impetus for their 2011 wind down was founding member Ed Volker’s desire to cease
traveling. Since their Last Watusi shows at Tipitinas in June of 2011, there have been a
handful of local anniversary shows, though they are playing a (non-headlining) set at this
year’s Jazz Fest.
The band’s retreat from the road left a big void within the Fishead nation and seemingly
with the other band members as well. Reggie Scanlan (bass) rapidly joined forces with an
all-star group of musicians to form The New Orleans Suspects. The Suspects play a mix that
includes originals and covers along the lines of Radiators and Neville Brothers / New
Orleans funk tunes.
Remaining Rads members Dave Malone, Camile Baudoin & Frank Bua, Jr. meanwhile began
piecing together Raw Oyster Cult. Taking over the keyboard / vocals is John Gros
(Papa Grows Funk) and Dave Pomerleau (Johnny Sketch & The Dirty Notes) plays bass. They
have created a wonderful ensemble whose energy appeared much greater than The Rads were
often able to deliver during their last few years.
Two audible differences between Raw Oyster Cult and The Radiators are that bass player
Pomerleau sings and Gros plays a Hammond B3 organ. “It’s great rethinking Rads songs,”
Malone notes on their website, “tweaking arrangements and even adding vocal harmonies,
something the Rads were not really known for.”
During the show at The Funky Biscuit, the band performed a handful of Radiators tunes
including "Love is a Tangle," "Barnburner" and "River Run." Covers included "Morning Dew,"
"Chevy 39" and "The Weight. What wasn’t attempted that night, nor do I see from setlists
of prior shows, are any early Radiators gems from their landmark first album Work Done
On Premises such as "Number Two Pencil," "One Eyed Jack" or "Red Dress." Unsure if
that ground is too sacred to tackle or if Ed’s shadow is too large, but it’s an
interesting omission nonetheless.
[Raw Oyster Cult - Morning Dew - Filmed by Adam Firtel]
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