Sports & Leisure

00:00 October 09, 2012
By: David Vicari

New Orleans has long been a place where artists have been able to grow through both a lasting musical tradition as well as through the benefi ts of being part of a major U.S. city. Combining the old with the new has proven to be successful over the years and each project taking this approach takes the stage to present a unique package to their audience. To grow as that group is many times the key to continuing as a successful band. As the members of rising indie NOLA rock group, Sports & Leisure have become well aware of this during their wealth of musical experiences they have now come together as a unique package, bringing their audiences an in your face joyous celebration of life, art, and the love of music.

"It takes a lot of faith," says bassist Whitney Brown. "It feels better with every new song we write because it sounds more like us…It feels good when we fi nish a song and say 'That sounds like Sports & Leisure',"he further comments on the band's musical approach. Often adding vocals and Ukele, Brown is one of three multi-instrumentalists in the band, which the group says has challenged the group's songwriting and collaborative skills allowing them to have such positive development early on as a band. Originating only a couple years ago with guitarist and vocalist Richard Dubourg collaborating on songs with keyboardist B.J. Blue, who eventually took on percussion, clarinet, and backup vocals for the group as well, Sports & Leisure was born through the simple love of writing. After crafting some songs the two members recruited a band consisting of mutual friends as well as those they've met through playing with other bands. What came out of this recruitment process was a well-defi ned team of artists ready to embrace the creative process as whole unit building their own sound together.

Their songwriting process embodies this as the guys say that typically their songs start off in more of a simple skeleton form then each member adds their own element resulting in a product that is rich in musicality and many times even far different from the original style. "We can arrange a song in a number of different ways" says Blue on the fortune of being able to add instruments like the violin, ukele, trumpet, clarinet, and percussion into their normal rock group setup giving life to their developing sound. Inspired by Big Easy roots along with a variety of musical tastes the purity of the songs truly make the group come alive on stage.

Pounding down on a stream of choruses heightened by a vibrant melody hummed gently by Jeremy Peres's violin all while the group sings in tight harmony as the dynamics steadily rise, a true sense of self expression is thrown into the crowd that is engrossed by the upbeat energy.

"It's a much more enjoyable experience to see a band playing fun material and who is having fun on stage," says lead singer Richard Dubourg. He says that one of the founding goals of the band was to have a New Orleans infl uence in this way. Still, even more infl uence can be seen in each member, such as with lead guitarist Scott Hannan, who took up his addition of the trumpet as a child due to his love of local jazz legend Wynton Marsalis. These inspirations have not only served their need to encapture and pay tribute to their home town but to also provide a natural tone stepping away form the electronic vibes many indie bands possess these days. "I think having all the instrumentation has allowed us to make much more of an organic sort of sound," further comments Dubourg, who is proud of what the group has come up with thus far. Just another element that separating them from many acts going in similar musical direction the group also says the instrumentation allows them to harmonize on melodies as well as voice them in different tones. "Trying to get your mind around instruments you're not used to playing in a group makes for a different sound than you usually get," also explains Whitney Brown.

Now, having honed in on their musical direction taking with them a dedicated following of fans in support of the project the band is now enjoying an exciting fall full of big shows, recordings, and a hopeful future for the hard-working fellows." We've got a whole set of songs and a bunch in the works…We're just trying to put some kind of a demo out now just so that when we leave shows we can keep ourselves in peoples ears," says Brown who still believe the band to be in the beginning stages of its growth process. However, even though no recordings exist yet as their EP is planned for late 2012, online videos of the band performing live at clubs like Circle Bar, shows the professionalism the band instantly took on since offi cially forming in October of 2011 only one year ago. Having just recently played their fi rst at the acclaimed Parish at the House of Blues in September they look to expand into more venues such as One Eyed Jacks while continuing to pack venues at home, since the band feels that is the proper stage of growth the band should undertake in order to continue on their road to future success. "That's a mistake that we've all made at some point or another, rushing into things," says Dubourg. Although they do look forward to playing in other cities like Austin, Texas the culmination of the wisdom they have gained being individual musicians before the actual forming of Sports & Leisure has guided them to not rush the delicate growth process of any band in order to retain the level or professionalism they have thus far engineered. As Dubourg simply puts the bands philosophy " If you can't fi ll a venue in your home town then you cant fi ll a venue anywhere else."

So, even though still based at home for the time being the talented members of Sports & Leisure will continue to entertain and surprise local fans growing with each other both musically and through the experiences they share. "It's about maintaining the momentum, not letting there be a lull…And it's not just about like what we're presenting to our listeners, but also as a band together to continue to grow together and keep challenging ourselves," quotes Brown on the process they are going forth with. Catch the dynamic group around town as they continue to tell of their musical journey on stage through the art form they so genuinely communicate.

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