by Ana Pizzolio
New Orleans music is one of the jewels of the south. Inspired by the city’s rich cultural background, Soul Project NOLA has gathered great crowds everywhere they go. The group composed by six musicians has achieved its recognition playing a range of gigs, from the streets of New Orleans to the big stages of music festivals.
“Festivals are all about the interaction with people. It is the energy of New Orleans that drives the place,” key player Jeremy Habegger says.
The band songs illustrate the rhythms of New Orleans in a mix of jazz, blues, soul, funk and gospel.
“Actually, the gospel today itself has all of those elements. It has the blues. It has the funk. Very much like New Orleans that is not only a blues town,” Habegger explains.
They established themselves in New Orleans’s competitive music scene through their songs, and have captivated a fan base with their soulful music.
“People down here are truly interested on what kind of music statements you are making,” bass player Scott Jackson says. “We got a supportive crowd and an environment that is conducive to grow and produce new [music].”
Soul Project is one of the regular bands to play at Café Negril on Frenchmen Street every Thursday night.
“We play up and down Frenchmen street,” Habegger explains. “And we are pretty busy every weekend since we are the folk band of the street.”
Soul Project’s festival appearances include the French Quarter Festival, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and Jazz In the Park at Armstrong Park.
“It is a very different thing doing music festival than to do a stage gig,” Saxophone Player Phil Morin says. “To play festivals in your home town is really nice, to go up there and create music without worrying about working the crowd right to get tips.”
Other members of the band not featured in this story are guitarist and lead vocals Jon Cristian Duque, drummer Colin Davis and saxophone player David Ludman.
It doesn’t have to be festival season to catch good South Louisiana music, just head to Frenchmen Street and have some fun.