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Today’s SotW was written by Mark Vincent. Mark is a fellow music lover and multi instrumental musician (guitar, bass and recently drums). His current gig is with a band called The Occasionalists that specializes in bringing live karaoke to the Brooklyn, NY club scene. When he’s not indulging his passion for music he has a chiropractic practice in Manhattan.
My cousin Tom has invited me to be a guest contributor to SotW, a genuine honor that I’ve tried not to let disrupt my entire work day. We both share a significant musical influence in the person of my much older brother and his cousin, Tom Vincent, who introduced me to this week’s band, The Continental Drifters, in addition to numerous other acts over the past 40 years.
The Continental Drifters were formed in LA in 1991 and soon relocated to New Orleans, enjoying local success in both cities. The band’s lineup seemed to evolve throughout their 11 year existence, but at their peak of recording/touring (1997-2001) it included a number of big names — Peter Holsapple (dB’s), Vickie Peterson (Bangles), Susie Cowsill (The Cowsills) and founding members Mark Walton (Dream Syndicate) and Carlo Nucci, who was replaced by Ralph Brousard after their first album.
Their sound is about what you would expect from that mix of talent: power pop/college rock/alt country/soul with a layer New Orleans sweat. Vocals and songwriting were shared among several members, expanding their range and style.
Choosing a single cut is difficult since their sound varied considerably within their three albums. With a band full of vocalists, their harmonies standout on many songs, but you won’t hear that on my selection. Being a dB’s fan, I’m partial to Peter Holsapple’s contributions.
“Don’t Do What I Did” is a driving pop song with electric guitars battling Holsapple’s accordion to keep up with his vocals. The song is probably about some form of regret based on the title, but I don’t pay much attention to lyrics when there’s this much music going on. The bridge shifts to an even faster pace but it never feels manic or muddled; the luxury of having a band of great players.
Give a listen to other Drifters tracks to get a sample of their harmonies and musicianship, but listen to this one if you need to wake up.
The band dissolved soon after Cowsill and Brousard left early in 2002. They’ve played a few reunion shows and last year put out a 2cd set of previously unreleased originals, covers, live cuts, demos and European releases.
Holsapple has since done work with the dB’s and Chris Stamey among others. Carlo Nucci has continued to be a fixture in the New Orleans music scene and co-wrote the NFL Saint’s anthem “Who Dat”. Peterson and Cowsill still perform together as the Psycho Sisters and Cowsill has a band with drummer Brousard, whom she married. Walton has played reunion gigs with Dream Syndicate.
Enjoy… until next week.