Long Way from L.A. to LA:
In late 1991, expatriate New Orleanean musicians
Carlo Nuccio and Ray Ganucheau were
living in Los
Angeles. Carlo had been playing with Mark Walton, ex-Dream Syndicate
bass player, and they had discussed the possibility of starting their
own band. Ray was working for a computer company and playing on the
side. Along with Gary Eaton, former songwriter/guitarist
for the Ringling Sisters, and Danny McGough of the
Seven Deadly Five, Carlo, Ray and Mark began playing music as the Continental
Drifters. The name had come from a band which Carlo had played in back
in New Orleans (featuring future members of the subdudes).
When 1992 came around the Continental Drifters found themselves playing
every Tuesday night in 1992 at a club in Hollywood called Raji's.
The songwriting and playing and singing were getting a lot of local
notice already, and the shows were attracting new fans and friends.
The Continental Drifters also found themselves with a large group of
auxiliary players who would fill i for other members who had other shows.
Among these were Susan Cowsill (of the Cowsills) and Vicki
Peterson (former Bangle) who were playing together as the Psycho
Sisters. Peter Holsapple, ex-leader of The dB's and former REM
sideman, sat in one night (substituting for the absent Ray Ganucheau)
and had such a great time that he was asked to join the band on keyboards
since Dan McGough's commitments to other projects were taking his time.
He declined to join, but offered to produce
a session for the band which resulted in the release of a 7" 45
rpm single on S.O.L. that contained "The
and "Johnny Oops", with guest vocals by Susan and
Vicki. After Peter finally decides to join the band, he was asked to
produce an album of songs for the newly vamped-up lineup of the Continental
Drifters. This record unfortunately didn't get released and shortly
thereafter, Susan and Vicki were asked to join the Continental Drifters,
and the ranks swelled to seven singer/songwriters! The band opened a
show for Bob Dylan at the Pantages Theater in and played around the
Los Angeles area. They also took a fateful trip to New Orleans which
Carlo and Ray decided to move back to New Orleans.
The plan was to keep the band together by flying
people to gigs, which became a costly and difficult task. Peter and
Susan had married one another and were expecting a baby by then. Moving
the band to New Orleans became a reality and within a year, Mark, Susan
and Peter had all relocated to the Big Easy. Vicki and Gary were still
commuting, and after Gary left the Continental Drifters, Vicki took
up residence in New Orleans too. At one point, Ray Ganucheau was hospitalized
for an aneurysm in his shoulder and decided that he too would leave
the band. From the ranks of the auxiliary forces came Robert Maché,
former guitarist for the Steve Wynn band.
This lineup cut an album for Monkey Hill Records
in 1994 simply titled Continental Drifters,
of covers and originals. The record received universal acclaim, especially
in Germany where it was released on Blue
Rose Records. Rolling Stone magazine named the band one of the
two best unsigned groups in the US in their Critics' Poll. After a successful
European tour, drummer Carlo Nuccio left the band, and the remaining
members decided to continue using session drummers. Eventually, Russ
Broussard (former Bluerunner and member of Terrence Simien's zydeco
band) became the newest member of the Continental Drifters.
1997, the band had grown impatient with lack of sincere interest from
any major American record labels, so they took it upon themselves to
record a vinyl 7" 45 rpm Single
Dog Records in rural Mississippi. Then they hit the road for
an extensive tour of America. With only the single to support, they
recruited more loyal fans as they went throughout the country. More
great reviews and gigs like opening for Hootie and the Blowfish continued
for the Continental Drifters. They finally decided it was time to make
the record they always wanted to make, and found themselves having to
do it on their own. Blue Rose Records in Germany came to the band's
assistance once again to license for Germany, the Benelux, Austria and
- The band started recording creating their long-awaited second album,
Vermilion. In fifteen days, the Continental
Drifters sculpted a masterpiece--fourteen original and striking songs
from the pens of Cowsill, Holsapple, Peterson and Maché.
Soon after its release in Germany on May 28,
1998, Vermilion went to #1 on Blue
Rose Records best seller chart. The January, 1999 issue
of the German Rolling Stone, printed the Readers Poll which ranked
Vermilion - #13 for Album of the year, #19
for Band of the year and #8 for Live act of the year.
in the States, Vermilion wasn't getting the American record companies'
attentions. Frustrated, yet dedicated, they were determined to find
a home for what they believed to be a record that deserved to have a
life on it's own shores. The band finally decided to play a showcase
March 19 in Austin, TX at the Austin Music Hall during a SXSW music
conference. This is the night that would soon change the history of
the Continental Drifters. Within a week of the show, the band was actually
starting to receive concrete offers from recording companies!
June 17, 1999, a year and three months after
the recording of Vermilion, the band signed with Razor
Tuesday October 12, 1999 AD (Columbus Day) -
Heralded by a sky-tracker searchlight parked in front of The Howlin'
Wolf on Peters St. in New Orleans, the Continental Drifters record release
party was the place to be; hundreds of friends, fans and fellow bands
followed the beams to a gala soiree, hosted by Tuesday night residents
of the Wolf, the Continental Drifters. They were launching the second
chapter of the life of Vermilion, its US release by Razor &
and the Continental Drifters received rave reviews,
won several awards from local New Orleans magazines Offbeat and
Gambit, and landed on many top ten lists.
They performed festivals such as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage
Festival and the Gaffenberg Festival in Heillbronn, Germany as well
as enthusiastic club shows throughout the US and Germany.
large part of the year 2000 found the members of the Continental Drifters
immersed in work within and without the band. It was a fertile year for
songwriting, to say the very least;
everyone was very diligent about writing new and beautiful songs for a
follow-up to Vermilion.
band prepared itself for January of 2001 and a trip back to Vermilion
Parish. In seventeen days, the Continental Drifters recorded and mixed
their third album. 2001 presents the latest and probably greatest work
to date of the Continental Drifters, Better
20, 2001, In anticipation of the release of Better Day, Razor &
Tie re-released the new and improved (remixed and re mastered) Continental
bands 1994 self-titled debut.
4, 2001, The Howlin' Wolf was the start of the American Better Day Summer
tour. The Continental Drifters invited friends, fans, and whoever wanted
to come to celebrate the release of Better Day, which hit the stores
as the clock struck midnight June 5, 2001. Free Fun, Food and Admission!
again the Continental Drifters received rave reviews, landed on the covers
of New Orleans'
Offbeat magazine and The
Times Picayune along with winning an award for Recording
of the Year from the
nationally distributed Stereo Review’s Sound
and Vision Magazine.
5, 2001 Blue Rose Records Releases Listen,
Listen - a
collection of Richard Thompson and
Sandy Denny songs.
of the terrorist attacks on the US on September 11, members of the Continental
Drifters feel it would be unwise to travel abroad for the tour and so
regretfully cancel their planned October tour of Europe.
- For personal reasons, Susan Cowsill and Russ Broussard decide that it
is the time to move on.
the ever-changing and evolving world of the Continental Drifters, the
shifting of membership continues. The remaining members (Mark
Walton, Vicki Peterson, Robert Maché, and Peter Holsapple)
to play 4 shows: the heralded New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival,
Festival International de Louisiane, The Howlin' Wolf, and their traditional
Jazzfest closing show at the Corrollton Station. With Ray Ganucheau
(Continental Drifters founding member) back in the fold and friend/drummer
John Maloney (Bluerunners, Thousand $ Car) helping out, the Continental
Drifters once again demonstrate the collective all for one and one for
all philosophy that is and will continue to drive this band to create
12, 2003 Blue
Rose Records releases
Nineteen Ninety-Three (the
bands "lost album" that you may recall
is the record that Peter produced that never saw the light of day) and
now it can finally can join the rest of the Continental Drifters catalog
in your music collection.
To celebrate this momentous occasion, the
Continental Drifters (Gary Eaton, Ray Ganucheau, Carlo Nuccio, Peter Holsapple,
and Mark Walton) all agreed to play a reunion show to commemorate and
celebrate the release of Nineteen Ninety-Three! May 4, 2003, the band
wound it up once again in beautiful New Orleans, LA at the Carrollton