Classic New Orleans jazz swings through Vernon

It all started by busking on the bustling streets of Sydney, Australia

It all started by busking on the bustling streets of Sydney, Australia.

With Down-Under roots and a post-war New Orleans jazz sound, the Milk Crate Bandits have worked their way up north, eventually settling in to the Vancouver jazz scene. And it’s a history the Bandits are bringing to Vernon’s Gallery Vertigo Thursday, Nov. 9.

“People asked what our name was, and we used to steal milk crates to sit on and play, so we took on the name Milk Crate Bandits,” said founding-member and Australian product Jack Ray of his and saxophonist Chris O’Dea’s formative years.

Now nestled in Vancouver’s vibrant eastern quarters, the Bandits are gearing up for their first ever Canadian tour, falling on the heels of the band’s debut EP, The Neighbourhood.

“It all kind of worked out with the timing,” Ray said. “We recorded two EPs down in New Orleans — first The Neighbourhood and the other is just about to come out.”

The View From Out Here, slated to drop Nov. 7, features New Orleans jazz legend Kevin Louis on trumpet and embodies the region’s iconic ’20s jazz vibe.

“It’s period-based,” Ray said, adding that the Bandits play hits from era-legends in their live sets. “We also wrote a lot of original music in that style.”

Drawing inspiration from jazz standards such as Basin Street Blues — Spencer William’s 1928 hit recorded by Louis Armstrong that tells of the main street of turn-of-the-century New Orleans’ red light district — Ray and O’dea took it upon themselves to compose a jazz track about their Sydney stomping grounds.

“Our King of King Street song is in the vein of a lot of the old jazz guys who wrote about the streets they lived on,” Ray said, adding that their repertoire has grown to include ditties about their new home in East Vancouver.

It’s a classic sound the Bandits are thrilled to share with Vernon audiences.

“This is our first time in Vernon,” Ray said. “I’m excited — we’ve heard good things. The Gallery Vertigo has been very supportive as well.”

The Bandit’s touring lineup features Australian circus and jazz show Scotch and Soda member O’Dea, Canadian trombonist Brad Shigeta of The Ellington Band and The Illinois Jacquet Band fame, Island-born bassist Jen Hodge and Ray — lauded as the future of jazz banjo by Woody Allen’s banjoist Eddy Davis.

“The band is really something I’m proud of,” Ray said, adding that the group has been together for about two years. “It’s really an honour to be playing with Brad and Jen.”

With their critically-acclaimed lineup, the Bandits boast a deep-rooted sound that still shakes the stage today.

“It’s fun. It’s joyous. It’s high-energy,” Ray said of the Milk Crate Bandit’s live performance. “It’s mostly acoustic and it resonates a lot with those young and old.”

And for the Aussie who began jamming on the guitar at four-years-old, that’s what it’s all about.

“What I’ve always loved about music is giving back what music has given to me,” Ray said. “It really feels like I’m reciprocating that love that music gave me.”

The Milk Crate Bandits are reigniting ’20s New Orleans jazz at Gallery Vertigo Nov. 9. Doors open at 7 p.m. Music is at 8 p.m. Tickets are available for $15 pre-sale at The Bean Scene Coffee House and A&E Consignments, or for $20 at the door. The Bandits play The Forum in Kelowna Nov. 11. For more information and tickets to the Kelowna show, visit www.milkcratebandits.com.

Just Posted

Lake Country bridge club supports those in need

Lake Country club challenges others to also donate money to the community

Police searching for GoPro owner

Police are looking for the owner of a GoPro seized by police in Kelowna

RCMP search for knife-wielding robber

Police in Kelowna release store surveillance images of an aggressive shoplifting suspect

Central Okanagan needs to develop shared vision when it involves mental health

A Lake Country resident presented her project about mental health and substance use

Kids, the great outdoors and technology

UBCO study says send your kids outside but let them take their electronic devices

Tattooing couple opens new shop in Lake Country

Cody and Fabiana Philpott opened NSI Tattoo in August

Stiff fine for B.C. man caught trafficking bear parts

A Cache Creek resident was charged after an undercover sting operation by conservation officers

Big White to open with three chairlifts

Tickets are 50 per cent off for opening day

One person sent to hospital after fire near Keremeos

Fire ripped through a shed and Winnebego at Sunkatchers RV Park Co-operative

Vandals pour fake blood on statues at B.C. church

Church members concerned about string of acts of vandalism and possible escalation

Vernon high school theatre reignites classic pirate tale

Seaton Secondary’s 27th Street Theatre Co. presents The Pirates of Penzance Dec. 5-9 and 12-16.

B.C. snow plow operator helps save elderly man

The 73-year-old man had fallen at his isolated home, and finally was able to call for help

Curtis Sagmoen to appear in Vernon court

The man associated with an Silver Creek farm where human remains were found last month is set to appear in court

Wildlife group challenges B.C.’s interpretation of law on destroying bears

Fur-Bearers are challenging a conservation officer’s decision to kill a bear cub near Dawson Creek

Most Read