John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, is one of my personal heroes. That’s why it’s so hard for me to accept that he actually said this.
There’s only one conceivable response. Obviously someone needs to record a traditional New Orleans-style jazz tribute to the Sex Pistols and/or Public Image Limited. Something with plenty of banjo, maybe featuring Don Vappie or Carl Le Blanc. I’ve heard the Pistols covered in just about every style from disco to polka but I’ve not heard that. Not yet. But I want to. It would be the proverbial hoot.
I can’t even imagine what it would sound like. I can imagine the Hot 8 or the Soul Rebels covering “Holidays in the Sun,” and I think that would be awesome. In fact I personally would give an eyetooth to hear such a thing. But those funky brassbands, while quintessentially New Orleans, do not represent the old-timey sound Mr. Rotten so callously decries. To pull that off we’d need an act like the New Orleans Jazz Vipers or the Hot Club of New Orleans or even Preservation Hall. Can you imagine what it would sound like? I can’t. But I want to hear it.
Who could pull off such a feat? Who bridges the gap between the disparate musical milieus of punk rock and traditional jazz? Surely there’s someone in New Orleans who fits that bill.
Whenever I have raised this question (it’s been on my mind for a good little while now) one answer invariably returns.
Obvious, ain’t it?
In case you don’t know, Clint Maedgen is the bandleader of the amazing New Orleans Bingo! Show, which might best be described as “punk cabaret.” Moreover, he also plays with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, which has been one of the primary exponents of the traditional jazz style for half a century now.
Clint is surely our only hope, but he’s so damn busy, and I don’t know him personally. Fortunately at the Chef Menteur show this weekend I met some people who are better connected. We are going to press this case. If you can help, please do. I don’t have any grand scheme, though I can imagine any number being hatched.
Maybe something interesting will come of it.
If so, just remember — you heard it here first.
If not, forget I said anything.