The Rapidian

Creolization to play at Jammies

Creolization has been nominated for the Best Americana Album award, an Outstanding Male Artist and Best Song of the Year awards. They will be playing at The Intersection this Tuesday, February 14th.
Underwriting support from:

/Kristine Carpenter

No other band in West Michigan, or probably anywhere else, plays the combination of high energy sounds that Creolization creates. It is never the same old, same old. The music is danceable and always fun. David Molinari, the band’s leader explained, “It’s a blend of some Zydeco, but then we intermix some pop tunes, blues tunes and rock tunes. I’ve heard us called “Roots pop with a Zydeco twist.” 

Creolization features David Molinari on vocals, guitar, accordion, harmonica, washboard and keyboards. He also writes nearly all of the songs they play. Mark Edwin adds hard driving electric guitar in the blues and rock traditions. Mark Lundell plays the bass. An Dro’s James Spalink said of Mark, “Mark never makes a mistake.” Michael Van Houten plays guitar and brings more percussion with the washboard and sometimes drums. Michael explains, “I am a church musician; I play whatever they need that day. I do that with the band, too.” Aubry Van Antwerp is also on vocals and tambourine. Brett Beelen sets the high energy beat on drums.  

Molinari, Van Houten and Beelen sat down before a rehearsal at David’s house last weekto answer a few questions.

What brought you together as a band?

Molinari: “We started out trying out some Cajun music, well mixed with Johnny Cash. It was because Hurricane Katrina happened and we thought it would be fun to put something together. There were lots of people coming up from Louisiana; maybe we could have the band play a little for them. We really didn’t have a name for the band back then. We played at the Eastern Avenue Hall. I don’t know what we called it, “A night of Cajun Music” or something. I had asked Dan Verhil (owner of One Trick Pony) if he could donate a pot of Gumbo or Jambalaya or something.  After that, Dan asked us if we would play for Mardi Gras at the Pony. So that’s kinda how it started.”

“We did that for a couple of years and somewhere in that I started researching and realized there was a difference between Zydeco and Cajun, and I was more gravitating toward the Zydeco. This was around 2003ish and we did those Pony gigs and some special events. We kept throwing in the Zydeco, and I was thinking this was working. It was a nice little niche, because the singer/songwriter world is competitive and hard to define yourself. There was a good response, so I just started thinking of band names. We started playing around with words, Creole and Zydeco and things like that. Then things like Creole Nation came up and finally, Creolization. Wow, Creolization, what the heck is that? I thought I better Google that. Well it popped up, not as a band, but as an anthropological term for blending many things to come up with something new. I thought well, shoot, that works. Well that’s kind of the history of the band.”

That’s a good history for where you came from, an anthology. But what brought you to your current incarnation of the band?

Molinari: “Well, Mark Lundell, the bass player, has been with me since high school at Park Ridge so he’s always been in the band. Then Michael played drums for I think all of those earlier gigs of “the band with no name”. Then later, Mark Edwin came on board with the David Molinari band and then to Creolization. Brett would sub for Michael starting quite a while ago, didn’t you, Brett?”

Beelen: “Well, I was a sophomore in high school when you played a Mardi Gras gig. I remember seeing you at One Trick Pony. “

Molinari: “And you were one of my students at that time, too.”

Beelen: “Playing guitar at that time, and then drums. But I became like official eight months ago. “

Molinari: “Yeah official eight months ago, but Brett played on and off for a while. And now Brett is primarily on drums, and Michael is like moving around now but they switch off on drum duties. Michael plays guitar and organ. So Michael’s kinda like the “whatever’s needed guy.” I was the original accordion guy, but then Lauren came on maybe about 2007, and she remained with the band until last summer. And then I went back to accordion. Then we met Aubry at the Van Morrison tribute. So I told her if she ever wanted to do a few songs with us to let me know. Sheplayed with us at the Tip Top in October. Now she’s adding a lot to the band vocally and plays a mean tambourine. We’ve been trying to get her on the washboard and we’ve found she plays a mean alto sax. So that should be exciting. That’s our current lineup. “

Have there been any favorite experiences for the band?

Molinari: “Well certainly for me the high points were opening up for Buckwheat Zydeco and for Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas. It was a privilege obviously to do that, but these guys were just so open and then to be able to hang with them. I have a rosary hanging from my car mirror that the guitar player from Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas gave me just because we connected that night. He was so personable and asked me all about my songs and said he liked them. Then there was Legs Inn and playing in the loft there. That was strange; [we were the] first band in twenty years to play up there. It was Labor Day weekend and it was cold and nobody wanted to eat outside, so they put everybody inside where they normally put the band. The dust was like an inch and half thick, and the stuffed animals and moose head and totem poles. It was like Aerosmith Toys in the Attic. That Legs Inn gig is the one that secured us a place at Bliss Fest.”

Van Houten: “I think it’s really something when the crowd wants you to do well, and they got your back. That’s a really rewarding experience.”

Tell us about Creolization, the album.

Molinari: “It was a very exciting night, the recording, live recording. I have not traditionally liked working in the studio, though I have to say after working with Al Mc Avoy I [now] have a completely different appreciation and like for that. He coached me and basically it was live but we did go back in the studio to correct some bad notes because you are not going to be perfect playing live. Working with him in the studio was a total joy; he’s a great producer and coach. It was grueling, but it’s like he was really listening. My thought though was I want to record live to get the energy of the audience feeding off of us and we off them. And I think it worked. It was a great event and I’m happy with how it sounds. I think it represents the broad pallet that we do.”

What do you have lined up?

Molinari: “Well after the Jammies, that next Saturday, I think the 18th, we are playing the Leelanau Sands Casino in Traverse City. That’s a Mardi Gras event. We have a concert in the park in Indiana. It’s part of a summer concert series. And we have a festival in Ann Arbor, a summer festival. So we are starting to get some stuff set up. We are trying to get out of town more. The Traverse City one and Ann Arbor are both like that.

Would you do this full time if you could?

Molinari: “If I could do my songs? Yeah, I could see doing that. Brett’s ready to get on a bus and quit his job. I want to do what I want, what the band wants and what the venue wants. “

Van Houten: “I would like to think that I would, but I don’t know. I’ve had a glimpse of it when I lived in New York City. Not that I did it full time, but I did it a lot. That was playing at 2:00 in the morning to three people and it lost its luster pretty fast. You gotta really want it. You have to really, really believe in the music or just not care. I think it depends, if you are with the right group of musicians. With a family and all, it’s a hard life with the travelling. Rock and roll, travel and family don’t mix.”

What are your musical influences?

Van Houten: “When I young I found a Beatles record and from then my brother and me and my younger cousin, we started a band almost instantly after hearing that album. And so it started really more with classical and church music because that’s what my parents played. My mom was a church organist and my dad in the church choir. My sister plays violin and my brother sings. There was a lot of music going on in the house. Anyway, that’s why the Beatles appeal to me so much. I mean if you listen to the Beatles there’s a lot of really complex stuff going on. Gospel, soul, folk, rock and roll, classical, yeah, anything. The Beatles are still a main influence."

The album "Creolization" was recorded live at the Dog Story Theater. It is nominated for a Jammie in the Best Americana Album category.  Molinari was also nominated for Outstanding Male Artist, and the track "Knock Once, Knock Twice, Zydeco" was nominated as Best Song of the Year. The album was produced by Al McAvoy and nominated in the Best Production/Engineering category. You can find Creolization performing for free this Tuesday, February 14th at the WYCE Jammies.

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