CRONK made a boisterous and triumphant return to the stage Friday night, 5 months after a serious automobile accident threatened to derail the rising arc of this young band. The excitable characters in the band funneled their fusion of weirdness and grooves down on the faithful revelers in the crowd at Tipitina's and wreaked havoc on the tolerance levels and immune systems of CRONK virgins (i.e. those present to see the headliners the Kudzu Kings).

For the benefit of the non-CRONKified, you should know that they are a devious brew of influences. Allow me a moment to follow the theorem King Curtis applied when he concocted Memphis Soul Stew: CRONK is 2 quarts of funk, a pint of hip-hop, several heaping cups of concentrated brass, seasoned with jazz and topped off with a shitload of scorching in-your-face rocking guitar solos and riffs.

Friday’s show featured great renditions of such CRONK anthems as We Can Be Lovers But We Can’t Be Friends and Beaucoup Ignorant. Beaucoup Ignorant, the last song of their set, was particularly notable for the ground it covered, as the band lost itself in winding jams that strayed far from the original themes of the song. But never fear, oh hesitant listener, because when the jam path came close to being a lonely, narrow and nutria strewn hiking path in Opelousas, the band would miraculously shift gears and return to the heart of the song, placing the crowd back on the good times groove train funking down a pristine St. Charles Avenue.

The great thing about CRONK is that while they are legitimately funny guys whose stage theatrics are quite comical, everyone in the band is a serious player that can and will blow your socks off. Their showmanship and schtick do not exist to cover up musical deficiency but rather serves to mock the concepts of preposterous rock stardom. Mr. Smoker is a killer drummer who propels the CRONK machine with force and personality. He also sings and raps. Captain Midnight, the outrageous and flamboyant guitarist with thick dark glasses and a beehive hairdo, has a great stage presence that is only upstaged by his skillful playing. the is a mild-mannered man often victimized by the chicanery of his bandmates, but nonetheless he perseveres and contributes mightily on sax and flute. To describe Pretty Tony, I’ll defer to Mr. Smoker’s intro at the conclusion of their set: “Thanks to Pretty Tony, for the singing, the dancing, the trumpet playing, the pretty shirt wearing...” Paul David funks it up on the organ and at times is even allowed to emerge from behind his instrument and rap to all the ladies in the crowd.

At this show, CRONK introduced a new bassist. While I did not catch his name, I can tell you that he is from Barbados and maintains a fat bottom end to the music very nicely. Along with the mention of the new bassist, however, comes an element of mystery. That mystery is, “What happened to the old bassist?” Corndog Rivas used to pluck the hell out of the bass strings for CRONK, but was nowhere to be found Friday night. Did he sustain serious injuries in the car crash? Is he still recuperating? Will we ever see Corndog grace the stage again? If Corndog is indeed still healing his body, my heartfelt support, condolences, and good thoughts to him.

If you plan on being in New Orleans for Mardi Gras or JazzFest, make it a point to check out CRONK!

Upcoming CRONK Tour Dates.

Billy Thinnes
JamBase Crescent City Correspondent
Go See Live Music!

[Published on: 1/29/01]

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