Mar 2011 05

by Blogbot

It could be said that every day is Mardi Gras on SuicideGirls – and there’s no beads needed to see our beautiful breasts. However, if you’re looking to get in the carnival mood, you could do no better than to check out the steamy sights and sounds of LA’s own incredible 19-piece New Orleans-style orchestra and cabaret, Vaud and the Villains. Having been blown away by recent performances in the SuicideGirls Radio studio and at The Mint, we checked in with bandleader Vaud Overstreet to find out how he came to channel the sexy and sordid essence of the Big Easy.

SG: What inspired you to create Vaud and The Villains?

Vaud Overstreet: Vaud Comeaux was a distant relation of mine who lived during the Depression Era in Thibodeaux, LA. He was one of these larger than life, charismatic charlatan/snake oil salesmen and I was always fascinated with the stories I would hear of him and thought he would make a great character in something, someday. My wife and I became obsessed with the Bruce Springsteen Seeger Sessions album and in particular the song “Eyes On The Prize.” It is sort of an anthem of Vaud and the Villains. It is, as you know, a longtime civil rights song and the first records of the tune place its origins about 1615, as a field song. We were deeply inspired by the ‘20s and ‘30s era, not only in literature but in this album, and we were particularly moved by the horns in the music, me being a horn player. The horns told us the story of Vaud and the Villains. In them, we saw the dancers, the costumes, the venue, the characters, the music and the message.

SG: Where did you find your Villains?

VO: We found a couple Villains from other musical ventures I had been in. And the rest we found through word of mouth and Craigslist. We have been lucky from the start. The project is like a fine wine. It was always good, from rehearsal 1 – but it has taken a measure of time to become outstanding. As the project improved, so did the level of ability in all of us, and also so improved the quality of the musician that wanted to play with us. My wife and I have a true and unrelenting passion for this project. We have noticed a couple of things in musicians/dancers who are inevitably a great fit for the show. They all are intrigued and attracted to the enormity of the project. And they are all moved and inspired by the music.

SG: How do you select the songs?

VO: We choose material that uplifts and inspires and entertains. We choose songs that suit a particular singer’s style and voice. Songs that have universal appeal. Songs that are easily accessible. A song that might inspire a dance routine. Musically, we are a horn and vocal driven band. These things are the cornerstone of our sound and for the horns I would say we are inspired largely by New Orleans trad jazz. And when we rearrange songs we think of it from that point of view. How can we put horns in this or use all these great voices. And then we try to do the exact opposite and strip down songs completely to create a balanced night. The dancing is largely inspired by Fosse but also even Michael Jackson.

SG: What do you hope folks will take away from the show?

VO: We try to make people feel good. And we love what we do. As creators, we stole in true Villain fashion, a line from Oscar Wilde: “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” That kind of duality in people is very intriguing to us and we believe acceptance is such an important part of being a good human. At best, we hope to be a part of the soundtrack of your own hopes and dreams and lives. The show speaks so clearly to us of light and possibility and goodness and we hope that we can inspire that in those who see and hear it. We always say that we come at you with our show to fill up your tank when you are running low with some love hope and faith – and truly, that is what we get out of it every time we perform it.


Hear the awesomeness that happened when Vaud and his very large band of Villains crammed into the very small SG Radio studio for a live session by clicking here.

Catch Vaud and The Villains in Los Angeles on Fat Tuesday (March 8th) at Amoeba Records (6 PM) and Cafe Was (8 PM), and at Fais Do Do on March 19th. Hit Vaud and The Villains website for more details.

And view images from their February 19 show at The Mint via the gallery below.