By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
If the sentiment seems deeper and more socially concerned than in the days when the Brothers' concerts consisted basically of Crescent City party fare like "Iko Iko" and the de rigueur rendition of Aaron's pop classic, "Tell It Like It Is," well, their priorities have changed. In early, pre-Neville Brothers days, as most earthlings now know, Art, Aaron, Cyril, and Charles themselves experienced plenty of drug and alcohol problems and no small amount of jail time. It wasn't until their sainted uncle, George "Big Chief Jolly" Landry, assembled them for a family recording that would become the immortal The Wild Tchoupitoulas that the four straightened up, and the resulting album of traditional Mardi Gras Indian chants gave birth to the Neville Brothers proper. That attitude has only strengthened, and there is a certain security and comfort in the knowledge that there always will be a Neville Brothers.
"The four of us definitely still feel a collective spirit between us," Charles assures. "Regardless of the success of individual projects, we all know that being together saved us once, and the Neville Brothers will always be bigger than us as individuals."
The evidence is obvious on Mitakuye Oyasin Oyasin: The Nevilles once more have pulled together various social, spiritual, and musical vibes and woven from them an irresistible, mystical spell. Somewhere the ghosts of Martin Luther King Jr., Professor Longhair, and Louis Armstrong are smiling--and Paul Prudhomme and Marie Laveau are still trying to figure out how they do it.
The Neville Brothers perform Saturday, September 28, at 5:30 p.m. at the State Fair of Texas.