What if Americana actually encompassed ALL of North America? You'd have the Franco-Acadian inflections of Canada, as best exemplified by le accordion, blues and jazz, the only truly indigenous musics the US has ever produced, and the lilting grace and fiery passion of the music of Mexico. You'd also have New Orleans' premiere distillers of this continental musical melange, The Iguanas, and their new album Juarez.
Taking their cues from all of the above influences and then some, Juarez, the band's first studio album since 2012's Sin to Sin, redefines the notion of Americana, crossing cultures, styles, eras… and even languages. It's as if Rue Bourbon, Muscle Shoals and Plaza México were all within earshot of each other and The Iguanas were the musical conduit between them.
Based out of New Orleans for the past couple of decades -- save for a short, Katrina-imposed exile in Austin — the members of the Iguanas have (collectively or individually) played or recorded with everyone from Charlie Rich, Alex Chilton, and Willie DeVille to Emmylou Harris, Allen Toussaint, and Pretty Lights. Their two-decade ride has taken them all over the map musically and geographically, yet the inescapable patina of their hometown infuses every note they play.
Through eight studio albums, countless tours and Jazz Fest appearances, and a flood that did its best to take their adopted city with it, it's a testament to the band's endurance that the same four guys that started playing in the early 1990s are still together. Joe Cabral is philosophical about the bandʼs persistence in the face of challenges that would have felled — indeed have felled — lesser bands. “First of all, this is all we know how to do; weʼre musicians. But more than that,” he continues, “we respect the power of the band as an entity, and each individual in the band steps up to play his part. When itʼs good, thatʼs really what itʼs all about.”
Rod Hodges agrees. “I donʼt want to get all heady and mystical about this, but itʼs not really an outward reward weʼre looking for. We all enjoy playing music, we all get along, and finding a group of people who can say that after all this time is a rare thing.”
With their most diverse collection of songs just released, the band recently embarked on their most extensive tour in four years, a 32-day journey that saw them play 22 shows across the US and Canada.