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Bonerama bringing brass funk

By JACK W. HILL ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

This article was published January 23, 2014 at 2:49 a.m.

bonerama

Bonerama

While the dictionary does not recognize bonerama as a word, it does recognize trombone to be one, so one figures there must be a connection.

And, of course, there is, says Mark Mullins of New Orleans brass funk rockers Bonerama, a fixture on the Crescent City music scene since Mullins and Craig Klein, both trombonists, founded the band in 1998.

“We’ve only had three of us on trombones the last four years,” Mullins explains. “For a time we had six of us, but now it’s just Craig and I and Greg Hicks on trombones, plus three more guys.”

The band now includes guitarist Bert Cotton, drummer Alvin Ford Jr. and electric bassist Ron Williams.

From 1990 until late 2006, Mullins and Klein also were members of Harry Connick Jr.’s big band, before finally deciding to make Bonerama a full-time gig.

Bonerama has released three live albums since 2001, plus two EPs, You’re Not Alone, with rock group OK Go (which was a fundraiser for musicians who had been displaced by Hurricane Katrina) in 2008 and Hard Times in 2009. The latest Bonerama album, Shake It Baby, came out in April and is the band’s first full-length studio CD. Mullins figures the band’s shows contain from 60 percent to 70 percent original material, plus such cover songs as Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks” and Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein,” along with various songs by Black Sabbath and The Beatles.

“And we do stuff by The Allman Brothers Band, [Jimi] Hendrix and The Meters,” Mullins adds. “We all bring in different kinds of music and we don’t care if it’s not something you ordinarily hear on the trombone.”

The band spent Jan. 4-9 on the Jam Cruise out of Miami, which featured five nights of nonstop music by numerous New Orleans bands, along with other notable musicians,including Stanley Jordan and Bootsy Collins. The event was filled with good vibes, but Mullins had some tense times when a gust of wind blew his horn over and caused damage that could have limited his performance.

“I got lucky on that, getting some help from a Croatian plumber in the engine room,” Mullins says. “Language was a bit of an obstacle, but he figured out what was bent and knew how to fix it. When you’re out on the high seas, it was certainly a stroke of luck that he was there.”

Little Rock holds a special place in the hearts of the band members, Mullins says, ever since Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005.

“We were in Little Rock, playing at Sticky Fingerz when Katrina happened,” he says. “And we couldn’t go home, so we made a lot of new friends in Little Rock and really got to know the city. Plus we met some amazingly nice people.”

Bonerama

7 p.m. Sunday, South on Main, 13th and Main streets (former location of Juanita’s), Little Rock Admission: $17 (501) 244-9660 metrotix.com

Weekend, Pages 32 on 01/23/2014

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