Band: Movember Dance Party
feat. Roxy Roca
Date: Friday, Nov. 13 with doors at 4 p.m.
Venue: O’Daly’s Irish Pub, 564 Dauphin St., www.odalysirishpub.com
Tickets: $5 at the door
Each year, O’Daly’s Irish Pub becomes the Azalea City’s source for all things Movember, as its staff and dedicated patrons let their facial hair fly to generate money for the Movember Foundation, a philanthropy focused on men’s health issues. The Movember Dance Party will help collect funds for O’Daly’s Movember team, and they looked to Austin’s Roxy Roca to provide a fitting soundtrack for this charitable event.
In the past, Roxy Roca won over the BayFest crowd with what the band calls “Dynamite Texas Soul,” a mixture of Texas rock and retro soul. The group will be returning to Mobile with sounds from its latest release, “Ain’t Nothin’ Fancy.” Front man Taye Cannon spoke with Lagniappe about the band’s trademark sound, the Austin scene and what the future holds.
Stephen Centanni: It’s been a while since you’ve visited Mobile. How does it feel to be getting back?
Taye Cannon: It feels great to be getting back. We came out of the gates in a big way there in Mobile by playing BayFest two years in a row. We really would’ve liked to have been in Mobile a lot more at this point. Things just unfold the way they do sometimes, and we’re definitely excited to be coming back on Friday the 13th.
Centanni: Your band name is a play on the actress Roxy Roker. What made you want to go with it?
Cannon: Man, there’s a lot of things. I guess you’d have to be inside my head a little bit to completely understand. I was born in Alabama and grew up in rural Tennessee and Mississippi. So, I was raised in the Deep South. I always loved that show “The Jeffersons” when I was growing up. That show was my introduction to equality and civil rights and that kind of thing. That relationship between Tom and Helen Willis had a big impact on me and how I treated other people. That always meant a lot to me. Later on, there was a little synchronicity when I found out her son was Lenny Kravitz. This was after I was really into what Lenny was doing on his first couple of records. It just kind of unfolded that way.
Centanni: You know, I talked to James McMurtry the other day (“Austin icon McMurtry returns to the road with new album,” Lagniappe, Nov. 5-11) and he’s an old-school Austin scenester.
Cannon: Oh yeah!
Centanni: He pretty much stays in that part of the scene with the old-schoolers. With you guys being in the more modern scene, what’s your take on the city?
Cannon: Austin is growing at a rapid pace. It is really growing. I think there’s 70,000 people moving there a year right now, at least that’s what the polls are saying. With that brings a lot of people with the same dream. There’s definitely a lot of different genres going off at the same time. I would say that singer-songwriter thing is still happening for sure, which I’m sure James could attest to. There’s definitely a soul and funk movement coming out of Austin right now, which I’m really excited about. There’s several bands with horns doing music rooted out of funk and soul from the ‘60s and ‘70s. There’s also a lot of progressive, new wave music coming out of there as well. It’s pretty expansive.
Centanni: You were into more underground music before Roxy Roca. What made you want to get into this?
Cannon: I always tell people, and it’s the truth, that my heart and soul is in this kind of music. That’s what I listened to at a very young age, and I have never stopped listening to it along the way. When you’re going through your teenage years and your early 20s and rebelling in different directions, there’s all different kinds of music you’re into. I was into everything from the ‘90s grunge movement to ‘70s and ‘80s punk and new wave. The big thing was that I met a songwriter that had come from the punk rock scene in New York City when it was really happening. He was a transplant to Austin and wanted to be in a band, but he didn’t want to be a front man anymore. I performed his songs and had a really good time with it. That was my introduction to being a front man in a band and doing that kind of thing.
Centanni: That description of your music being “Dynamite Texas Soul” is just perfect, and the song “Love Make Deville” on your new album “Ain’t Nothin’ Fancy” is a perfect example of this style. You’ve got this Texas rock mixed with old school soul. How did you come up with this sound?
Cannon: We definitely wanted to do this music created by the pioneers of that era and definitely wanted that vintage aspect to it, but we didn’t want to be a total throwback band. We wanted to be relevant now and have this new sound. We think we’re getting there and still trying to figure out what Dynamite Texas Soul is. “Love Maker Deville” is a great example of it, and I think you’re right. It’s soul music with an attitude the size of Texas.
Centanni: You released the album in February, and you guys have traveled heavy on your first major tour with the new music. What’s it been like?
Cannon: It’s a very rewarding feeling. You have to stay with it and realize that it’s all about the journey. We started this thing in Austin, and we’re branching out over 16 states and playing all over the Southeast and Midwest and going out West a little bit. In the spring, we’re headed up to the Northeast. There’s no more rewarding feeling than carrying the music you create to a wider audience. We’re not confused that this is a great opportunity. That was always the plan and goal setting out. We weren’t messing around. We wanted to take this on the road. It’s rewarding after about five years to finally be where we’re playing more than 100 shows on the road.
Centanni: What’s the next step?
Cannon: The immediate future is more songwriting and expanding into new markets. Since we’ve been on the road, we’ve only been in Austin a few times, and it was a short period. Touring is not letting up anytime soon, other than the week of Christmas. We’re going to write some songs along the way and hope to be back in the studio this summer, creating new music and cutting it to tape.