L’il Queenie and the Percolators were one of New Orleans’ premier acts in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Now, after a 25-year hiatus, they’re giving an encore performance. The event, dubbed “Jimmy’s Music Club Reunion Concert starring L’il Queenie and the Percolators”, will take place at Southport Hall on Sunday, April 29.
The Percolators were well-known for their high-energy, jazz-and-blues-influenced rock, as well as for their inability to expand outside of the city—not an uncommon fate for local bands. Their sole release, a single entitled “My Darlin’ New Orleans,” is considered by many to be a classic.
“These things have their own timing,” says John Magnie, who co-founded the Percolators with singer/songwriter Leigh “L’il Queenie” Harris. Magnie is currently a member of the subdudes, along with another ex-Percolator, Tommy Malone.
“I think we’re all hoping to catch up with old friends,” continues Magnie, “and also to play some music that we’re now realizing was pretty good. Beyond that, we’re looking for a bit of redemption, in that we went down in a bit of turmoil.”
Part of that redemption, he says, will come when the band releases its first full-length album, collected from old recordings that have waited more than two decades to see the light of day.
“But,” says Leigh Harris, “what’s on tape can’t hold a candle to (our) collective energy.”
For that there’s the reunion concert, which offers the curious a final chance to hear a live Percolators performance. The show also serves another purpose:
“A filmmaker wants to make a documentary about me,” says Harris. “That part of my life is going to be put under a pretty bright light, but there’s not much video, and Katrina took a lot of the photos and memorabilia.”
The reunion will open with a duet performance between Harris and Magnie, followed by the full band, including original members and guest drummer André Bohren. The last set will feature friends from the past 30 years.
Southport Hall is an especially appropriate location for the event, as club owner Jimmy Anselmo is the founder and former proprietor of Jimmy’s Music Club, whose opening night in 1978 featured L’il Queenie and the Percolators.
“We used to play there a lot,” says Magnie. “Jimmy’s was one of our staple places. We’re happy to have a chance to celebrate that, too.”
Anselmo agrees. “We had a steady relationship for years. The Percolators were always a big crowd-pleaser.”
If the whole thing is starting to sound like a family get-together—well, it is.
“When you grow up with people onstage like that, they’re stuck in your marrow,” Harris says. “We’re family and we haven’t been interacting as artists like we could have. I’m listening to our music, and it sounds just as contemporary now as it did then. There’s no Zeitgeist; it’s just timeless shit.”