Angelo Moore & The Brand New Step are some of the most recent alumni of Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo, the annual New Orleans music festival that takes place in May. There, they performed material from Centuries of Heat, an album which OffBeat‘s Geraldine Wyckoff calls “a ton of musical fun.” It features Ben Ellman, Robert Mercurio and Stanton Moore of Galactic, three musicians who give the album a distinctive New Orleans flair.
Less than a month removed from their Bayou Boogaloo appearance, Angelo Moore & The Brand New Step are premiering a new single, “Open Your Mind!” It’s described as “a testament to Angelo’s constant searching to expand people’s consciousness through music, to bring love into the world through music.” It’s an extension of the saxophonist and vocalist’s career-long devotion to bettering things.
“In 1979 I began to play saxophone with the Hale Jr. High [in Los Angeles] marching band, and right away i saw that my energy had a tendency to uplift and enlighten those around me who liked to dance and sing but had trouble expressing it. Over so many years of performing, I learned that every single person in the room can have their mind opened by what I’m willing to give onstage. That’s the power of performance.”
He says the group’s new single is all about perspective. “There are endless ways to look at all things and we should always be working to adjust that perspective towards the positive. Choose how you look at things, and as a result, ‘make it rain love,’ as we say in the song. Take a brand new step and open up to the possibilities
The song’s theme is needed, sure. But it’s also kind of sad that it’s relevant. “It seems that America is still waking up in so many ways. People need to be opening their minds about EVERYTHING,” says Moore. “We seem to need constant reminders about sexual culture, racial culture, musical culture. It’s like the artists are just endlessly preaching for love and equality and everything good, and the masses are just slow to catch on, to put actions behind the thoughts. There’s a reason for the term ‘woke.’ Being ‘woke’ is having your mind opened, and this term just became a thing in the last few years. It’s going to be a long slow process but there’s no other way.”
Jim Greer, who has worked extensively with Galactic as a cowriter (“Heart of Steel” with Irma Thomas, “Into the Deep” with Macy Gray) handled the drum programming and synthesizer on the track. “This song started as a sort of psychedelic dub groove I made one day just playing around,” he says. “It was groovy and interesting but I wasn’t sure where it would end up. I played it for Angelo and Kris [Jensen] and they immediately dug it, so we just set Angelo loose on writing words and melodies. One of our backup singers, Bridney, was around that day, so we had her drop in some parts as well and the kind-of-epic hook ‘make it rain love.’ which came from me thinking about how violent our society is with movies and video games and how I kind of wish for a more peaceful society. We ended up tinkering a lot with the song but it took on a life of its own once Angelo got involved. We just love how vibey it is.”
For both Moore and Greer, New Orleans is a direct influence. “My father played sax with Duke Ellington’s orchestra,” says Moore. “There was a lot of jazz around the house, and my showmanship has that free spirit that is so integral to everything that New Orleans represents.” Greer echoes the sentiment, saying “Everyone should spend a couple weeks in New Orleans. It’s like boot camp for how to live your daily life in a way that is totally unpretentious and real.”