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April 10, 2013

Luddites’ latest is a ‘Twisted’ take on acoustic music

Band refines its multi-genre blend on ‘Twisted In’

By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer

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The Luddites will celebrate the release of their fourth CD with a concert April 13 in Detroit.

After almost 21 years together, the Luddites still haven’t suffered the ubiquitous “creative differences” that have shattered bands less than half their age.

The 11-piece acoustic group will celebrate the release of their fourth CD, “Twisted In,” with a concert starting at 9 p.m. April 13 at PJ’s Lager House. Bass player David Giovannucci, one of the original Luddites from those early days in August 1992 when they started as a five-piece acoustic act, said friendship and mutual respect have kept them going all these years.

“Friendship — that’s what it is,” the Grosse Pointe City-born Giovannucci said by phone from his home in a suburb of Toledo, giving him the longest commute to infrequent band rehearsals. “It is friendship that has kept us together. It certainly isn’t the money,” he added with a laugh.

Besides Giovannucci, the Luddites include vocalist Lisa Goedert, a Warren native who now lives in Ferndale with her husband, Luddite guitarist/ accordionist/vocalist Rob Goedert; drummer Stuart Tucker, of Hamtramck; guitarist/banjo player/vocalist Ken Talbot, a Utica native who lives in Rochester Hills; baritone saxophone player George Schuster, of Royal Oak, and his brother, trombonist Frank Schuster, of Clarkston, who grew up in Mount Clemens; trumpet player Jamey Bostek, of Southfield; conga player and percussionist Marlon “Bebop” Crawford, of Detroit; saxophone player Ralph Koziarski, an east side Detroit native who now lives in West Bloomfield; and harmonica player David Turner, who now lives in San Antonio but appears on the new CD and guests whenever he’s in town. Bebop, the newest member, formerly performed with George Clinton, Giovannucci said.

The Luddites have made a mark for themselves by being one of the most musically diverse acts out there, combining everything from folk and rock to Klezmer, Bourbon Street swing, ska, jazz, Latin and Afro-Cuban styles into a surprisingly palatable and playful blend. And on their new CD — their first in a decade — Giovannucci said they might finally be mastering that mix.

“There’s a lot of different styles, but I think, for the first time, we’ve integrated those different styles seamlessly from one song to the next,” he said. “They kind of meld together.”

All but a handful of songs on “Twisted In” are originals, and one was penned by Giovannucci’s stepdaughter, a college student. He said all of the children of the bandmates are musical.

“Theoretically, we can replace ourselves,” Giovannucci joked of the new generation.

In some respects, the band philosophically lives up to the ideals of craftsmanship and humanity spawned by their historic namesakes. The original Luddites were a group of rebellious English textile workers who, as lore tells it, fought the Industrial Revolution and championed personal handiwork by smashing the factory machines that would soon replace them. Detroit’s Luddites, however, don’t advocate vandalism.

“The songs are mostly written and arranged by (the band),” Giovannucci said. “Everybody has a stake in it. It’s pretty egalitarian. Everybody brings something to the table.”

They recorded the new CD at The Tempermill studios in Ferndale with Dave Feeny, who played pedal steel on one track, Giovannucci said. Working with Feeny was “an amazing experience,” the bass player said.

Koziarski agreed, saying the band’s fourth album is “better produced, engineered and mixed” than previous efforts.

Koziarski — who also performs in a number of other bands — was initially reluctant to join the group, but the music won him over. He’s been a Luddite for almost nine years now, he said.

“After listening (to the last CD), I said this is a really great band that should be heard by more people, and I’d love to be part of the artistry,” he said via email.

Expect to be entertained at a Luddites concert — and wear comfortable shoes, as spontaneous dancing is likely to occur.

“The Luddites’ live show is rock, but reminiscently cabaret,” Koziarski said. “The experience is sweaty, sexy, thoughtful music that’s real big fun.”

Giovannucci said the band’s appeal transcends specific musical genres.

“It’s a very upbeat, good time,” he said of their live shows. “The band has a good time, and that translates to the audience, as well.”

The Luddites will be performing from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. April 13 at PJ’s Lager House, 1254 Michigan Ave. in Detroit. They’ll be joined on the bill by Brooklyn-based Les Sans Culottes. Cover is $5 at the door. For directions, call the venue at (313) 961-4668. For more about the Luddites, visit www.theluddites.org, www.myspace.com/theluddites or www.facebook.com/TheLudditesofDetroit.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer K. Michelle Moran at kmoran@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1047.