Wilson Pickett was determined to wait for the midnight hour. The Strangeloves growled that the nighttime is the right time. Bob Seger’s still working on his night moves, the Rolling Stones want to spend the night together, and AC/DC shook you all night long.
But shouldn’t there be some rock and roll for folks who want to eat at the early bird buffet and be in bed before the clock strikes twelve? The 41 Players have got us covered.
The group, which uses 70 years of New Orleans music as its template, is moving it’s “happy hour residency” from Bait and Tackle in Red Hook to Bar Chord in Ditmas Park, playing three sets between 7pm and 10pm every Monday night in April.
“We thought, ‘What’s the way we can get some happy-hour people?’” said drummer Ethan Eubanks. “People who say, ’You know, I can’t go out and see music during the week because the next day’s going to be a disaster for me.’ Everybody can be home by midnight and well wound down if they choose.”
The 41 Players take their name from Pier 41 in Red Hook, where founder John Deley lives. But in the eight years they’ve been together, it’s come to represent the revolving cast of guest musicians who show up to supplement the rhythm section, guitar, keyboards, and horn players who form group’s core.
That collective is kind of an anonymous supergroup, featuring musicians whose names may not be well-known, but whose music is familiar from hours they have put in supporting a diverse array of famous projects — from film to television and commercials to records and live shows.
“We’re all sidemen who are coming together and it’s the chance for all of us to be the center of our own thing,” Eubanks said. “Everybody gets to stretch out as much as they want and everybody has a voice.”
“But I think people would be surprised that, this guy was on Saturday Night Live two days and these are the same people who are playing for zero dollars for you tonight. That’s the reality of this band, that tomorrow this guy’s gonna be at Carnegie Hall and you’d have to pay $100 to see him.”
The decision to use the sounds of New Orleans as the common ground for the collective comes from Deley’s love for the music. “He’s a two-handed player; he plays a big style of piano that’s really at the center of our strength,” Eubanks said.
“New Orleans is a real school of playing that features the piano at the heart of the ensemble. The music of Dr. John, Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, the music of Alan Toussaint. These are guys who are the center of their band, and they’re piano players.”
And while New Orleans put the piano at the center of the 41 Players, it also gave them room to branch out. “We got into the Meters as kind of a funky band,” the drummer recalled. “And from the Meters, we’ve gone to a lot of earlier stuff. Using New Orleans as a template, we have so many eras, and they’re all kind of all good. From the 70s back to the beginning of any kind of what I would call modern music, 1900, all that stuff being fair game, there really is no end to it.”
Having embraced the music of New Orleans, 41 Players decided to bring some of the city’s other traditions to Brooklyn. “New Orleans has a small town heart,” said Eubanks. “On Mondays, people give away red beans and rice. The tradition of it is you have Sunday ham and then washing day, which is also called Monday, you put that ham bone in with the beans and let it cook all day and that’s what you have for dinner.”
41 Players will play at Bar Chord every Monday in April at 7pm. Along with Eubanks and Deley, bassist Andy Hess, guitarist Al Street and saxophonists Craig Dreyer and Steven Salcedo will host a wide variety of guest musicians during their residency. The music is always free at Bar Chord, so be sure to tip the band and show the bartenders love as well.