The Lucky Jukebox Brigade is bringing vaudeville to Albany.
The eight-piece indie folk group is becoming known for its energetic live shows at places like the Hudson River Coffee House, where the stage allows audience and band members to intermingle and dance with each other. But the band isn’t just content to play music and dance — there are characters and costumes and full-blown theme shows.
“From my standpoint, I’ve always been interested in integrating music and theater, having characters onstage and having costumes to bring the songs to life,” percussionist Kristoph DiMaria said recently by phone, with bandmates Deanna DeLuke (vocals, baritone ukulele) and Geppi Iaia (bass).
“We played a vaudevillian masquerade party at The Lounge at BSP in Kingston last year that was pretty well-attended, and everyone came dressed in Victorian outfits or with a Steampunk motif, with patches and masks and all that beautiful stuff. It brings it back to the vaudevillian tradition of the ’20s and ’30s, where there was music and art in live performance — a little more than just entertainment.”
For their Friday night performance at Hudson River, the band will be combining pirates, cruise ships and a luau.
The Lucky Jukebox Brigade
with Life Among the Trees, Homebody
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Hudson River Coffee House, 227 Quail St., Albany
How Much: Free
More Info: 596-0959, www.hudsonrivercoffee.com
“It will be as if pirates came out to take you on a cruise on their ship, and had a luau,” said DeLuke. “But they’re not the bad kind of pirates.”
Making the rounds
The Lucky Jukebox Brigade’s shows are all about having fun, and it’s catching on locally. Having only just formed last year, the band has kept busy playing nearly every club in Albany that will have them. On Saturday, the day after the Hudson River show, the band will help inaugurate the first MOVE Music Festival in downtown Albany — they take the stage at Jillian’s at 2 p.m.
Initially, the band formed around DeLuke’s burgeoning songwriting. She first posted on Craigslist in October of 2010, searching for musicians of all stripes to help flesh out the big-band sound she was imagining.
“The band Beirut really inspired me a lot and helped me figure out what I wanted in a band,” she said. “I wanted a different kind of lineup. I wanted horns and strings because I love those instruments, and I wanted an eclectic percussion player in addition to a full drummer. In the ad I listed all of the instruments I’d be interested in — a lot of them were pretty obscure.”
She got her eclectic percussion player with DiMaria, who was the first to respond. He initially brought Iaia on board, along with the group’s first drummer, trumpeter and an accordion and banjo player. The original six-piece lineup recorded a four-song EP, “By the Way Your Shadow Looks,” in January of 2011.
Today, DeLuke, DiMaria and Iaia are the only original members left in the lineup, which has expanded to include a full horn section with tuba player Andrew Burger, trombonist Emily Trumpfheller and euphonium and melodica player Christopher Weatherly. Violinist and mandolinist Gina Mauro, and drummer Michael Graves complete the current lineup.
“The original plan was that anybody who played anything we liked would be incorporated into the band,” Iaia said. “With the lineup changes we were given different ideas. Once we got the horns together, it really expanded the dimensions of the group and the texture of the songs — now we have a great range of high-frequency and low-frequency instruments.”
As the lineup has grown, the band’s songwriting has also evolved into a more collaborative approach. Burger has used his classical background to write the group’s swelling, symphonic horn arrangements, while the rest of the band has brought their ideas to DeLuke’s original song “skeletons.”
“We’re like composers and arrangers, as opposed to band members jamming out on something with everybody adding in,” Iaia said.
The evolution is apparent on the band’s first full length, “Pretty Well Damned,” which will be released at Valentine’s on May 18 (the band has already settled on a classy ball theme for this show).
Along with re-recordings of the four EP songs, the album features 11 new tracks that sound both more polished and fuller than the EP.
“The EP was the primordial puke of what the band has become,” DiMaria said. “All the ideas were there, but everything was still forming. The full-length takes what the EP is and shows how it’s just really grown by leaps and bounds.”
The band will be hitting the road in July for a cross-country tour, not returning until they run out of money. DeLuke has spent time backpacking across the country, and hopes to use her knowledge to guide the band on tour.
“And then we’re taking over the world,” DiMaria said.