The Radiators may best be known in New Orleans as the house band for Mystic Orphans and Misfits, a Mardi Gras organization, which has a reputation for throwing the most outrageous parties.
“They are a bunch of wild, out of control acid heads who were totally nuts and started a Mardi Gras organization,” said bassist Reggie Scanlan.
Every year the day before Mardi Gras, the Radiators play M.O.M’s ball, which for many years was held in different locations. No venue would invite them back. Recently they have found more permanent digs in the ninth ward of New Orleans and the party has swelled to 3,000 people. You need an invitation and a costume to get in no matter who you are.
Scanlan said one year Dan Aykroyd, the original blues brother, showed up with an invitation and no costume, so the folks at the door gave him option number two, which was to get naked. Aykroyd left.
New Orleans is a music mecca and the Radiators have played the scene for nearly 25 years, jammin’ improvised rock, blues, and R&B with Cajun flavor. They are regular performers at Mardi Gras and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, where they play the festival closing set every year.
“Music is part of your education down there.” Scanlan said. “When there is a funeral you got a band. When there is a wedding you got a band. Everyone I know has at least one family member who plays an instrument.”
New Orleans has such a strong musical community that bands have formed right on stage at places like Tipitina’s where the Radiators have played with the likes of the Neville Brothers, Dr. John, and Professor Longhair.
“That’s like ground zero in New Orleans,” he said. “It’s almost like a cultural religious tribe.”
The Radiators love to play music, but describing their sound or coming up with a name was never high on their list.
One day tired of explaining their sound, a task most musician loath, Ed Volker, keybordist and singer, said to someone, “It’s fishhead music. Come to the show and find out what it’s about.” Consequently, fans have become known as “Fishheads,” not to be confused with “Phishheads,” which came much later.
The Radiators, individually were accomplished musicians in New Orleans when they formed, but coming up with a name was not high on their list. What read on the marquee was up to the clubs, which put up names like “Neighborhood Boys and “Weeble Wobbers.”
“Everyone knows who we are, ” is what they said. And indeed aficionados of the scene may have, but there came a time when a name became necessary. The members sat themselves in a garage and began to party. After three hours of discussing a name, the gig was up.
“It is like driving a car across the Mojave desert and running out of gas,” Scanlan said. “We picked our name where we ran out of gas.”
Tulane University in New Orleans proved a breeding ground for Radiators fans since the band’s inception.
“We just played a (Tulane) alumni party in (Los Angeles),” Scanlan said. “Those things happen fairly often. Just in general, we have a lot of fans who have been with us since day one.”
The Radiators are Ed Volker (keyboards and vocals), Dave Malone (guitar), Camile Baudoin (guitar), Reggie Scanlan (bass), and Frank Bua (drums).
The Radiators will release there sixth studio album, a self-titled release, April 24.
Tuesday @ Hyatt Regency, Incline Village
Doors/8:30 Show/9 p.m.
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