ABOUT THE CATAHOULAS
The Catahoulas are a New Orleans Rhythm and Blues band that specializes in playing the lost sounds of the city’s golden age of R&B- the 1950s and ‘60s. Each of the band’s all-star members have hefty resumes and impressive musical pedigrees. Almost all are native New Orleanians. In short: they were born and bred to play this music.
For as long as he can remember, bandleader Joshua Gouzy has been dreaming of starting a band that plays the kind of music he grew up with in his family. They’ve been working musicians in the Crescent City for four generations. Joshua’s maternal great-grandfather Dee Florane was a trumpet player, and his great uncle Alcide Florane ran a family jazz band in the 1910s in the Holy Cross neighborhood of the Lower 9th Ward. His great aunt Leah Florane was the organist for the silent movies at the Saenger Theatre. His grandfather Lloyd Florane is also a multi-instrumentalist who alternated between the bass, sax, trumpet, and trombone in several bands, including The Blue Stars, and Collay and the Satellites in the 1950s-60s. The Satellites had a Billboard hit with “Last Chance”, which was recorded in Cosimo Matassa’s legendary Rampart Street studio in 1959.
It is precisely this style of music- 1950s-60s New Orleans Rhythm and Blues- that is the inspiration for The Catahoulas. As a bassist, Joshua felt a particular draw to the style. “I love this music because the rhythm section really is the heart of it. You drive the band from behind and if the dancers aren’t moving, you’re not doin’ it right.”
Joshua has assembled a line-up that seems tailor-made for the style, each with their own particular tie to its roots. Legendary drummer Gerald French of The Original Tuxedo Jazz Band is his partner in rhythm. Gerald grew up in second-lines and church bands before moving onto jazz clubs. He is dyed-in-the-wool New Orleans rhythm. The horn section features Preservation Hall All-Stars player Kevin Louis on trumpet and Earl Bonie and Oliver Bonie of The New Orleans Jazz Vipers on tenor sax and baritone sax. All three have been making music in New Orleans their entire lives and have traveled the world as ambassadors of New Orleans music. Pianist Steve DeTroy comes to the band by way of Walter “Wolfman” Washington’s Roadmasters. Steve grew up with music in church and is known for injecting songs with blues and soul. Guitarist Bert Cotton has been performing with New Orleans brass rock band Bonerama for over 18 years.
Together the Catahoulas play classics and forgotten gems of the era by Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, Alvin “Shine” Robinson, Snooks Eaglin, Jesse Hill, Lee Dorsey, Huey Smith, Smiley louis, Chris Kenner, Ernie K-Doe, Robert Parker, Lloyd Price, and Papa Albert French,. “I think that this is the most accessible music there is,” says Gouzy, “Anyone can enjoy it. You don’t have to be a swing dancer or a tango dancer or anything to know how to move to it. You just kinda do it, you just groove, because that’s what it’s all about. It’s about groovin’ and having a good time and just relaxing and enjoying life.”
The Catahoulas have been playing shows in New Orleans at classic venues such as The Maple Leaf, D.B.A. on Frenchmen Street, The US Mint, The Spotted Cat, and at French Quarter Fest. They have an album forthcoming which they are collaborating with legendary Grammy Award-winning recording engineer Bruce Barielle. Their mission is to bring back the nearly forgotten music of that musical era, and expose these sounds and rhythms to new ears, to inspire a new generation of New Orleanians who embrace its rhythm and soul.
Joshua Gouzy (bandleader, bass, vocals)
A New Orleans native, Joshua Gouzy was born into a musical family. They’ve been making music in the city for four generations. Since his early youth, Joshua has been playing a variety of instruments. At age 11 his grandfather Lloyd Florane, also a talented multi-instrumentalist, helped him pick out his first bass from the Chalmette pawn shop, and from then on the bass was his primary instrument. He is a graduate of Loyola University with a Bachelor's in Music Education and a minor in Jazz Studies. He also has a Master's in Music from the University of New Orleans. He is the regular bassist in nine New Orleans-based jazz bands and is the proprietor of his own booking agency, Magnolia Entertainment. Joshua has made it his life’s mission to perpetuate and celebrate New Orleans’ music and to carry on his family’s musical legacy. “Every time I play I think about what my great-grandmother would say to me when I was a little kid. We would go visit her in the lower 9th ward, next door to the Doullut steamboat houses on the levee. I’d be playing Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” or something like that on the piano and she’d say, ‘oh, that’s great mah dawlin’, but ya gotta swing it!’. Then she’d go to the piano and play “Just A Closer Walk with Thee” and she’d swing it and sing with her heavy vibrato. That just really stuck with me.”
Gerald French (drums, lead vocals)
Gerald is as close to the core of New Orleans’ musical tradition as one can get. For three generations he and his family have been stewards of The Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, which has existed for more than 100 years. He was groomed from a young age to carry on its tradition. He started learning music in church, at second-lines, and would study at the feet of his elders at Tradition Hall. First with his grandfather, banjo player/bandleader Albert “Papa” French. Then with his uncle, bandleader/drummer Bob French. He’s played with Charmaine Neville, Harry Connick Jr., Dr. John, Big Chief Bo Dollis and The Wild Magnolias, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and many more. He has performed at The New Orleans Jazz Fest, Montreal International Jazz Festival, Ascona New Orleans and Classics Jazz Festival, and The Montreux Jazz Festival. In 2011 he took over the leadership of The OTJB and continues to honor its legacy as the oldest still-playing jazz band in the world.
Kevin Louis (trumpet, vocals)
A New Orleanian and proud of it, Kevin Louis has been playing trumpet since he was 8 years-old. He graduated from The New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) and earned a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance from Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He went on to receive a Masters of Arts from the Aaron Copeland School of Music at Queen's College in New York. In 2005 he recorded his first solo album, Loved Ones. When in town he has played with The Preservation Hall All-Stars, The Palm Court Jazz Cafe All-Stars, and The New Orleans Jazz Vipers. However, Kevin often finds himself touring abroad, having traveled as a performer, clinician, and instructor to over thirty countries. This includes five tours as a U.S. Department of State/John F. Kennedy Center Jazz Ambassador.
Earl Bonie (tenor sax)
Earl grew up all over New Orleans, from River Road to Mid City to Chalmette to Mandeville to finally settling in Metairie. He started playing alto sax in 5th grade, then in high school he took on tenor sax and clarinet. It was at that point that he first began playing professionally in a band called The Cabarets. He then studied Studio Music and Jazz at the University of Miami. He’s played on The Delta Queen, The Mississippi Queen, and played on the maiden voyage of The American Queen. He served in the 84th army band during Desert Storm and played at the 1984 World’s Fair In New Orleans. He’s played with numerous bands in a variety of styles, such as The Dukes of Dixieland, Jamil Sharif, Meschiya Lake and The Little Big Horns, Benny Grunch and the Bunch, The New Orleans Jazz Vipers, and Bobby Cure and the Summertime Blues. “I’ve always prided myself on my versatility,” says Earl.
Oliver Bonie (baritone sax)
: A second generation New Orleans musician, multi-instrumentalist, and music entrepreneur, Oliver Bonie has been making music since he was six years old. His father Earl often brought him to his gigs on the Natchez. When he was in high school he heard about a recording session with Fats Domino and Herbie Hancock and made his way to the studio and asked if he could hang out with them. He graduated from the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) and went on to earn a degree in Jazz Studies from The University of New Orleans. From 2009 to 2013 he played with The Uptown Jazz Orchestra before joining the New Orleans Jazz Vipers. His chameleon musical abilities have lead him to a variety of projects from jazz to alternative rock to electronic music.
Steve DeTroy (piano, vocals)
: Steve began playing piano at the age of 5 under the instruction of his father, who is also a professional jazz pianist. He attended the jazz and contemporary music program at The New School University, studying with legendary pianist Junior Mance. Since moving to New Orleans in 2014 he was quickly brought in to Walter “Wolfman” Washington’s Roadmasters and has been touring the world with them since including tours to New York, Seattle, Canada, Brazil, India, China, and Germany. He’s recently been made a new edition to The New Orleans Jazz Vipers.
Bert Cotton (guitar)
Bert hails from Birmingham, Alabama. He picked up the guitar at age 18 and it very quickly became a passion. It wasn’t long before he started gigging around Birmingham. He studied jazz at Auburn University under Bob Richardson before going on to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston. He’s known most prominently for playing and touring with Bonerama for the past 18 years. He’s also a member of Funky Monkey. He’s played with many notable New Orleans acts including James Andrews, Ingrid Lucia, Johnny Adams, and Kermit Ruffins.