It’s no secret that New Orleans music and culture has a bit of a love affair with itself. Anyone who’s lived here understands that a big part of life in the Crescent City is regularly declaring how much we like our town. We march in second lines, we know what it means to miss New Orleans, and we know what it’s like to live through football season. There’s also a tradition of Saints-related music, whether it’s Aaron Neville asking “Who Dat?”, Zigaboo Modeliste’s “Let’s Get Fired Up,” rock-rap band Ghost’s version of “Who Dat” that was heard in the dome in 2006, or Dee-1 and Shamarr Allen, who just cut “Bring ’em to the Dome” to celebrate the season.
Another entry in the Who Dat derby is Dem Boys, a newly-formed group whose debut EP, Roll with the Black and Gold, was released September 3 to correspond with the Saints’ final preseason game against the Miami Dolphins. Dem Boys put together a pastiche of local styles that reflect the musical backgrounds of its members. The vocals move call-and-response fashion between R&B vocalist Sherman “Strawdaddy” Johnson and verses rapped by MC Matt Peoples of the M@ Peoples Collective. This takes place over music by drummer/producer Eric Heigle, and Andrew Meehan and Jon Solomon of Gravity A. It’s a blend of funk, soul, Dixieland and even second-line style brass band music that the band calls Jynxing, “meaning that you can’t get rid of that New Orleans feel, even if you wanted to,” says Heigle. The result is a three-track EP with an astonishing diversity of styles.
Now Dem Boys hope to hear their Saints-centric title track played at the Superdome. Andrew Hunter, head of Drake Records, was in communication with the New Orleans Saints organization on details to have the song played opening day. It’s not hard to picture “Roll with the Black and Gold” playing for a stadium packed with Saints fans. It’s catchy, easy to dance to and an authentic offering by New Orleans natives celebrating the place they love. “Nobody’s sitting in New England writing a song for the Patriots,” Peoples says.