H I S T O R Y                                                                                                                         Photo History | Raji's 
The story of the Continental Drifters 
A 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 The Mississippi / Johnny Oopsproduce a session for the band which resulted in the release of a 7" 45 rpm single on S.O.L. that contained "The Mississippi" 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 changed destiny..

    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, which
Continental Driftersconsisted 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.

    By 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 Christopher Colombus Transcontinental Highway / Meet on the LedgeSingle for Black 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 Switzerland.

    
March 2, 1998 - 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.

Vermilion    Here, 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 & Tie.

    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 & Tie.

Vermilion 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.

Another 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 Better Dayleast; everyone was very diligent about writing new and beautiful songs for a follow-up to Vermilion.

The 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 Day.

Feb. 20, 2001, In anticipation of the release of Better Day, Razor & Tie re-released the new and improved (remixed and re mastered) Continental Drifters, the bands 1994 self-titled debut.

June 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!

Once 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.

Listen, ListenNovember 5, 2001 Blue Rose Records Releases Listen, Listen - a collection of Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny songs.

Because 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.

01/09/02 - For personal reasons, Susan Cowsill and Russ Broussard decide that it is the time to move on.

In 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) accept 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 great music.

May 12, 2003 Blue Rose Records releases Nineteen Ninety-Three (the bands "lost album" that you may Nineteen Ninety-Threerecall 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 Station!

 

To be continued..

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© 2003 Continental Drifters ®™

 

 

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