Not every band can say a national catastrophe or local disaster was the inspirational catalyst that caused the inception of the group. But for the New Orleans-based funk band, Flow Tribe, that’s exactly what happened. When Hurricane Katrina shocked the nation in 2004, claiming at least 1,245 lives and incurring an estimated $108 billion in property damages, the members of Flow Tribe immediately rushed back to New Orleans to help reconstruct their hometown. It was during this rebuilding process that the band itself was resurrected, and the rest is history.
In an interview with John-Michael Early (harmonica, washboard, keys), he recalls, “At the time, there were a lot of questions in the news. People were saying, ‘Is it worth rebuilding New Orleans? Should we send all this money to a city if a disaster might happen again?’ There was a big debate going on about the importance of New Orleans. We thought about our love of the city’s music, the history, the culture. We were just a bunch of 18 and 19-year old kids, rebuilding our parents’ houses during the summer… and we knew the only way we could contribute on a bigger level was with music.”
Powered by members K.C. O’Rorke (trumpet, vocals), John-Michael Early (harmonica, washboard, keys, misc), Russell Olschner (drums), Chad Penot (bass, vocals), Bryan Santos (guitar, timbales), and Mario Palmisano (guitar), Flow Tribe first started in high school but broke up and dispersed to different corners of the United States after graduation. Revitalized in 2004, the band has since released three full length albums, several EPs, has performed the main stages of major US festivals like Jazz Fest and Voodoo, and is putting the finishing touches on Downman Sounds, a studio in New Orleans East. To say Flow Tribe is a true ambassador of sound for the city of New Orleans would be an understatement.
What’s more – Flow Tribe just released their latest LP, Boss, on April 28th through independent outlets. The record features the band’s hallmark fusion of funk, R&B, and hip-hop influences, and was produced by none other than former Cash Money producer Mannie Fresh, who’s best known for producing Tha Carter by Lil Wayne, as well as several Top 100 singles by artists including T.I., T-Pain, and Juvenile, to name a few. You can stream the entire LP exclusively on AXS, and can also hear it on iTunes or Spotify. The music video and single for “You Know What It’s About” premiered on Billboard on April 13th. You can check it out below.
On June 21, Flow Tribe and Brooklyn’s own PitchBlak Brass Band are hosting a concert booze cruise aboard The Jewel in New York City for a brass-backed, funk-fueled, hip-hop infused night of New Orleans inspired music. Boarding at 7pm and departing at 8pm sharp from Skyport Marina on East 23rd St & FDR Drive (East Side), this is simply one of those shows in the city not to be missed. Book your boarding passes here.