By Lauren Wise
By New Times
By Amanda Savage
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Evangeline recorded its self-titled album mere months later at Shrimp Boat Sounds studio in Buffett's Key West stamping grounds. Evangeline provides a fine sampling of the tone and textures of Evangeline's myriad influences. "We chose 'Bayou Boy' as our first single because it covers just about everything we do," McKee explains. "It's got the five-part harmonies, the Cajun sound, fiddles, washboards, plenty of twang and everything. It's like putting a tag on a cow's ear, saying 'Hey, this is ours.'"
Evangeline contains covers of Brendan Croker's "Hey, Ren‚," wherein McKee lays a fiery assault on the piano; the old artful dodger Jesse Winchester's "Rhumba Girl; and the beautiful Nanci Griffith anthem "Gulf Coast Highway." A trio of Rhonda Lohmeyer-penned tunes also made it on this first effort, including "Bayou Boy" and "Am I a Fool" (a thoroughly country cry-in-yer-beer beaut soon to be the disc's sophomore single).
Even before the album's release, however, Evangeline had hit the road with Buffett, cruising through two dozen dates before a tour break. During the layoff, the band members went back home and once again prowled the corridors of the Quarter, playing their favorite old haunts. It wasn't truly restful, McKee admits, but it was nice to be home. The keyboardist is also grateful for this current Rocky Mountain respite.
"We've been climbing around the rocks--actually, I've slid quite a bit, getting some bush enemas, but it's been fun." There's laughter in the mountaintop home of friends at this overheard remark. McKee laughs, too.
"You know," she says, "I could tell you about some thangs these girls are doing, but I don't want to wake up with Nair on my eyebrows."
Although the band would welcome another day or ten off, McKee insists that its members aren't especially tired of the road. Personally, she likes how the group's singing, especially the five-part harmonies, continue to meld together in choirlike fashion. "It's like singing in church," she says.
The whole band (including Louisiana drummer and token male Dudley Frug‚, who does not share in Evangeline's limelight) is excited at the way its musical gumbo of country, Cajun, pop, zydeco, blues and jazz--with a soup‡on of gospel for the soul--has become a spicy, one-dish musical feast. Even better, Buffett's Parrothead-laden crowds have welcomed their 35-minute opener with enthusiasm.
There are still nearly 20 shows before this year's edition of the Jimmy Buffett road show ends in Los Angeles, but the group is already planning its second album. One of the goals is to include much more original material. Most of the band members write as well as sing and play--McKee among them. There's no date set as yet for this next project, but with the tour, the songwriting and sneaking the occasional day atop a nearby mountain, McKee doesn't foresee much empty time in the future.
"I don't think we'll be wastin' away," she laughs.
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