Voodelic: Doing the Voodoo Unto You

Voodelic will send shivers up and down your spine, and that means a whole lot more than trying to figure out how to label their music on your iPod. And with their new album Conjure about to drop,maybe it would be better if you listened for yourself, anyway. Like that soup that’s still tingling your tongue, Conjure is a curious monster, one with a backstory nearly as convoluted as that of the band itself.It begins with Lundy, who goes by “little earl” when in Voodelic mode. Growing up in Mississippi, Earl made his way to Manhattan in his early twenties, but not before laying waste to the Deep South with his band, Bonnington Truce. “Punk was already dead, but we didn’t know that, we didn’t care, we still got in trouble for looking and sounding like we did, and being in a band from Mississippi, I still sounded like a blues singer doing punk.” Those elements are still in Little Earl’s voice, a powerful enough instrument that the hairs on the back of your neck aren’t just standing, they’re dancing, threatening to pull themselves directly from the root. Your favorite band has that indefinable mojo, and whether you know it or not, it all comes back to the rhythm section. If the bass and drums are working as one through some primal connection, you might not even know it’s happening. But with Almquist and Cartwright, it’s happening all right, in a big way. While the band was quick to find their rhythm, it took the arrival of another vagabond southerner to give Little Earl the inspiration to bring his own gospel and R&B influences fully to the fore. Though Ross Rice technically grew up in New Hampshire, it was a move to Memphis during his high school days that saw the keyboardist come into his own. “I was originally a drummer,” Rice said. “I pretty much am still a drummer, I just beat on the keyboard instead of the drum.”With a full Memphis music experience that included a house gig at the Peabody Hotel with Stax Records legend Donald “Duck” Dunn, Rice found himself working with everyone from Albert King to Steve Cropper, Rufus Thomas to Peter Frampton. Like Little Earl, Rice eventually found his way to the Hudson Valley, settling in Rosendale and becoming something of a musical hired gun. Somewhere along the way, he became part of the Voodelic scene. With zero rehearsal, Rice filled in on a gig, and a missing piece clicked into place. “Ross, because of his experience in Memphis and Nashville- his chops have developed around gospel and R&B, and it’s a really natural combination for me,” Little Earl said. “I can kinda go someplace, and he follows me, or vice-versa.” Rice agreed, noting that the differences in heritage and age provide Voodelic with some indefinable mix that makes the whole far greater than its parts might be under different circumstances. “I think it comes down to a Mason/Dixon deal, and an old and young thing as well,” Rice said. “It’s two more grizzled southerners coming together with two young Northerners. There’s a bit of a collision, but it’s harmonious, too. We’re stunningly harmonious when we get things going.” Little Earl describes the collective Voodelic experience thusly:“It’s kind of like putting the pedal down in a car,” he said. “You accelerate and everybody knows you’re accelerating, and they either know something wonderful or terrible is about to happen. Let it flow, and let whatever happens happen.”