One of the biggest misconceptions that I’ve heard about Southerners regards the kinds of music that they listen to. If you ask anybody living below the Mason-Dixon line (yes, I suppose that you can also include Texas), they’ll present you with an array of artists and styles that reflects tastes not all that different from people living in the rest of the country. But if you ask anybody else (read: Yankees), the only kinds of music that we play down in the bayou are jazz, pickup-truck-and-beer country ballads, and banjo-pickin’ finger-lickin’ good ole’ bluegrass music.
Now, I’m not going to refute the fact that a lot of us think country and bluegrass are awesome (one of my favorite songs—”Callin’ Baton Rouge”—is by Garth Brooks, and I used to own a banjo. But that’s another story). However, many places in the South—especially where I’m from in New Orleans—produce bands that experiment with all styles of music, from indie to hip-hop, electronic, and rock. One of the most exciting musical trends that we’ve experienced in recent years has been New Orleans Bounce music, or just “Bounce” for short.
Bounce originated in New Orleans sometime between the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. For most of the time since then, it has been a phenomenon localized largely to New Orleans, but which eventually spread to other Southern urban centers such as Atlanta. Growing up during the early 2000’s, I remember DJ Jubilee’s “Get it Ready, Ready!” permeating virtually every school dance or Jewish Community Center sock hop (yes, we had those) that I attended. The song—still probably one of his biggest hits, and the song that everybody still requests when DJ Jubilee plays his monthly Bounce show at the popular La Maison music club—is a fast-paced, high-energy blend of repetitive beats and melodies. And like most Bounce songs, it is highly infectious.
One of the most important aspects of Bounce music is the call-and-response style that songs often use. In “Get it Ready, Ready!” Jubilee calls out dance-move directions to the audience the entire time (“Now walk it like a dog!”—trust me, you all want to see that one). The call-and-response separates Bounce from a lot of other music that I’ve heard because it is super interactive for the audience, and therefore super, super fun.
People in New Orleans eat this stuff up like it’s a Thanksgiving turkey. And, from what I can tell, people up here do, too. This past April I went to see Big Freedia—one of New Orleans’ most beloved Bounce artists—perform at Brighton Music Hall. I guarantee you that most of the people in that room had never been to a Bounce show before. But when Freedia got up there, people were so eager to shake their booties in front of everybody that they were running towards that stage like Ryan Gosling was waiting for them at the finish line.
Honestly, it’s kind of hard to fully describe the awesomeness of a Bounce show experience. It’s hip-hop on speed, it’s participation, it’s shaking your ass. But it’s also just kind of ridiculous. And that’s the best part. Even though Bounce knows this, it doesn’t give a crap, because Bounce just wants to have fun.
If you want to experience some Bounce goodness for yourself, make sure to head on down to Brighton Music Hall (again!) to see Nicky da B open for Tilly and the Wall on Friday, October 12 (you may purchase tickets by clicking here).
This post just barely scratches the surface of the Bounce phenomenon, and there were a lot of parts that I wasn’t able to get to in order to give you a better picture of how it all began in the first place. Stay tuned to the BU Central blog if you want to hear more about Bounce and it’s rise to fame (or infamy)!