This Mardi Gras (February 5th), Bonerama and OK Go will release You’re Not Alone, a five-song digital EP. Bonerama and OK Go spent the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina recording at Piety Street Studios deep in the city’s Upper 9th Ward. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the EP – available exclusively at iTunes – will benefit members of New Orleans’ music community such as R&B legend Al Johnson, who are still struggling to rebuild their homes and their lives in the aftermath of the flood.
“New Orleans is one of the last places in America where music is truly a fundamental part of everyday life,” says OK Go singer Damian Kulash. “People get together on the weekends and parade through the streets just playing songs; 12-year-old-kids learn funk on the tuba; everyone dances. Life elsewhere in the world simply isn’t as celebratory. If we allow the culture of New Orleans to die by leaving its musicians marooned around the country, America will have lost one of its great treasures.“
This weekend, OK Go and Bonerama will finish up the second of two benefit shows: a January 11th gig at New Orleans’ Tipitina’s (as part of the legendary club’s 30th anniversary celebration) and upcoming February 2nd show at The 9:30 Club in Washington, DC, which will be streamed and podcast by NPR. Bonerama will open the DC show, then play material from You’re Not Alone with OK Go, who will close the evening with a full set.
On Monday, February 11th, Bonerama and Kulash will perform “A Million Ways” on CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman.
Engineered by Mark Nevers (Bobby Bare Sr., Calexico, Bonnie “Prince” Billy), You’re Not Alone is an astonishing collaboration, with Bonerama lending its loud, trombone-and-tuba New Orleans swagger to OK Go’s bombastic rock. Together, they re-interpret three tracks from OK Go’s most recent album, Oh No: “A Million Ways,” “It’s A Disaster” and “Oh Lately It’s So Quiet.” A pair of covers – David Bowie’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” and Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” – round out the collection. Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, who wrote “Carnival Time,” the unofficial anthem of Mardi Gras, contributes haunting vocals to the latter.
Johnson’s Lower 9th Ward home was washed off its foundation by the levee failures during Hurricane Katrina and later demolished by the city without his knowledge or consent. He has been living in Houston, TX for the past two years. Proceeds from You’re Not Alone will go towards building a new Habitat For Humanity home for him as well as to Sweet Home New Orleans, an organization dedicated to helping repatriate and support the thousands of local musicians who were scattered by Katrina.
Enthusiasm for the project has proved contagious. iTunes has agreed to donate all proceeds from EP sales, and digital distribution powerhouse IODA is servicing and promoting it free of charge. In addition, free freight shipping was provided by EFM Worldwide/Horizon Cargo, and Music Travel Management contributed free airfare for the two benefit shows.