Alligator Gumbo – Well, personally I’m glad I stumbled over them whilst dining at the pop-up Château Marmot (for the record I was me that silenced the room, by over enthusiastically shouting “I cant believe they’re playing that Mos Eisly Canteena song!”, yes I agree I’m an idiot…). For me they make that old school live improv-style of recording, I’m thinking of Django Reinhardt in particular for some reason, come to life.
The set that I was privy too was completely unplugged, with the guys all singing lively toe-tapping numbers, laced with a couple of swooning solo’s. I mean I didn’t actually swoon but I wanted too… I think given more wine I probably would have. That aside it was very Prohibition era for a contemporary audience, I’ve not seen a band quite like them before or since (Although I did see Jon Scully’s Big Easy Duo – while a separate entity definitely cut from the same mould, in a good way).
A perfect accompaniment the wonderful food I had on the evening, providing an atmosphere as unique as the makerel foam and beef cheek main. Five part harmony taken in with the wine made the stars shine – though maybe they were fairy lights…
And yes they actually did play that song from Star Wars -
so less of me here’s their mail bomb -
The line up is;
Jon Scully – Trumpet
Greg Surmacsz – Clarinet
Matt Tiffany – Violin
Chris Lloyd – Accordion
Mike Simpson – Guitar
James Paylor – Bass
Tell us the story behind how you got together -
The band was put together by James, our bass player. He’d been thinking about doing it for a few years, getting ideas for tunes and finding the right players. By chance, everything seemed to come together towards the end of 2011 and since then we’ve been busy gigging virtually non-stop.
The name was carefully deliberated over, finally we settled for Alligator Gumbo – Alligator is slang for someone who loves jazz and a Gumbo is an American soup; a real mix of flavours thrown together, just like the band!
Best gig you’ve ever, ever, ever played –
Gumbo have had some superb gigs over the past year and selecting one is an impossible task. We’ve played at parties, clubs, jazz nights, restaurants, art galleries, weddings and each one I’ve enjoyed in its own way. One of my favourites was playing a beautiful music hall in Settle. The building was incredible, designed specifically for onstage performances and the audience loved it. We’re hoping to return there next year, this time with dancers!
What’s your favourite Leeds venue to go to when you’re not playing?
I love the Chemic. It’s very near my house and has such a wealth of different music on, from new bands playing the Cloth Cat Open mic to traditional French music. Apart from this, we’re quite spoilt in Leeds, there are so many great places; Sela, Hi-Fi, Smokestack, The Hop, The Brudenell, HEART, 7 arts…the list goes on!
What’s been your best festival experience?
Gumbo hasn’t played any festivals yet, though we’re planning to hit them pretty hard next year. I recently had my first festival gig at Bingley with Spirit of John. We were treated well – chauffeured around on a golf cart, ate great food and drank beer, perfect.
When you’re not performing, writing, or answering endless
questions for live music companies, what do you get up to?
I cut quite a bit of wood. I’ve got a got a wood burner at home, so I spend lots of time with my axe! The other guys are pretty busy too, James is a teacher and Kung Fu instructor, Tiff is a professional juggler, Mike is a father of 2 (soon to be 3!), Greg teaches and Lloyd, err, Lloyd does nothing.
Besides you, who should we look out for on the music scene this year?
I’ve seen The Blind Dead McJones band a few times and they’re great. They have such an amazing concept, great sound and they’re having lots of fun on stage. From a jazz point of view there are lots of bands doing really well; Tanz, The Honey birds and the New York Brass Band to name just a few.
If you could emulate the career of any band or artist, who would it be?
Anyone who has been able to make a career out of performing music they love, without needing to ‘make it’. People tend to think that a musician must be a household name to be successful; this is of course not true.
And finally, where can we catch you in the next few months?
Smokestack 3rd of Oct
Cask Corner 5th of Oct
Marsden Jazz festival 14th of Oct
Skelton Cricket Club 20th Oct
Leeds Jazz Club 4th Dec
Seven Arts 16th Dec
To keep up-to-date with our gigs,