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The Vegetarian Gazette

Cabbages seen on the Vegetarian Gazette

Plant-Based Food For Carbon-Based Units

Of Cabbages, Cats and  Indie Rock

Lucky Jukebox Brigade in vegetariangazette.com

Now we can reveal life’s basic ingredients — food, music and cats! And in the food category, vegan mac and cheese must not be ignored.

We decided this after meeting Chris Weatherly and Deanna DeLuke, card-carrying vegans and members of indie rock band Lucky Jukebox Brigade. This mostly Albany (NY) based group recently released its EP, Savage Fantastic (produced byMike Watts. The band’s sound bounces. It’s concise, intense and hard-driving with lighter-than-air vocals.

Music

For the record, the group consists of Deanna DeLuke (vocals, ukulele) Geppi Iaia (bass), Michael DeMarco (drums), Jimmy Affatigato (guitar/saxophone/clarinet), and Chris Weatherly (trumpet/euphonium/synth/keys/flute).

Lucky Jukebox Brigade’s story might some day be the stuff of legend.

“I was specifically looking to start a band about five years ago,” explained Deanna. She posted a “looking for band members” ad on Craigslist allover the country. She planned to move to wherever she found the right people.

“I love traveling,” she added, “and was couch surfing so I had the freedom to go wherever I felt like going.”

She started in San Francisco and did a sort of reverse Route 66, going where she found people willing to host her and let her cook them some tortellini soup.

“I worked my way back east,” she said. “I went through California, Nevada Colorado down to New Mexico.”

And then it was on to Arkansas to help a massage therapist “who was moving her whole life and her whole practice” to Hot Springs. “I helped her drive her giant yellow moving truck.” Next came Tennessee where she had a close college friend with whom she stayed for a few weeks.

"Geppi Iaia responded to the ad in Albany," said Deanna, "o I went back to Albany.

It was as if Dorothy donned her high-heel sneakers and clicked her heels three times.

“I pretty much knew right away,” said Deanna, “from our first little mini practice audition —whatever you want to call it— that he was someone I wanted to work with.”

And he knew other people. Voila a band.

Going on a journey to find a band is such an obvious and lovely metaphor.

“I was singing since I could talk,” said Deanna. She recalls being two or three years old and singing “Hello Ma Baby”  (the 1899 song also rendered by the newly-born alien in Mel Brooks’s Space Balls.

“I didn’t actually start singing until I got to college,” said Chris. “I was a pretty shy kid my entire life. But I did piano starting at the age five. I remember one song I did . I wanted to play this fast as I could so people look at me and hear it and go ‘that kid is great!’ To this day I still can play it.”

Chris and Deanna report that Albany is a good place for music.

“There definitely is a thriving local scene here,” said Deanna. “There are a lot of DIY shows and venues have been popping up lately. There’s a lot of talent here. It’s fun to collaborate with local bands. And find new local bands that we hadn’t heard about before and put on shows together. Some local radio stations have been super supportive of local music too. It really is a great community.”

“There’s a lot of movement of musicians between bands,” said Chris. He noted this fosters a creative cross-pollination.

Lucky Jukebox Brigade started out as an 11-piece band. Over the past three years, it evolved into a quintet. Do they miss having the larger ensemble?

“Eleven pieces,” said Chris, “was a much different, kind of experimental type of thing. I do miss that sometimes. It was much more messy, and it’s tighter now.”

“I think it was fun having like a free-for-all on stage with so many people,” said Deanna. “But in terms of things like songwriting and going on tour it was definitely more complicated.”

She added, “we definitely can still do a lot with five. We definitely can have a big sound.”

Speaking of touring, that brings us to the big question. How does the vegan-while-touring thing work for them?

Food

“Certain parts of the South were particularly challenging,” said Chris. “We were in New Orleans for a few days and everything was like po’ boys and crabs and shellfish and alligator.

“It depends on the location,” agreed Deanna. “If we are playing in New York City or Boston or Vermont it’s not that hard; but getting into the South or just driving for a long time and trying to find rest stops with food that works is a little challenging.

“I stock up on granola bars and nonsense stuff like that just for in between shows when there’s any kind of traveling. I just try to make as much food at home as I can to take with me when we’re doing one out-of-town show.”

When did they discover they were vegan?

“I was vegetarian for a few years,” said Chris. “I fully transitioned two or three years ago. I am not really sure because I was pretty much there anyway. Just another step.”

”I’m new,” said Deanna. “I started to transition around November.”

Watching a lot of videos about how “animals are treated in the food industry” did it for Deanna.

“After seeing a lot of that,” she said, “I really can’t eat meat or dairy anymore. It’s been fun trying to replace all my old food — that comfort food that I used to like —with vegan versions. mac and cheese, pizza, tacos all of that and finding that we can have food that is just as good if not more exciting, and feel good about it.”

Which brings us to the mac and cheese portion of our broadcast. Chris is the band’s go-to guy for vegan mac and cheese. His secret ingredient is cabbage transformed to sauerkraut.

“It’s actually not my recipe,” said Chris. “My bible, since becoming vegan, has been Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moscowitz  who is opening a restaurant in Brooklyn I have heard. Very excited about that. It’s cashew cream based. The secret ingredient to get that weird funk that cheese has that is so difficult to get is — sauerkraut.

“You can use canned sauerkraut. I’ve used homemade sauerkraut and it is even better that way. You actually get that really satisfying kind of like umami fermentation and it’s really out of this world.”

Chris says any kind of sauerkraut should work.

“I’m sure,” he said, “you probably can even use kimshi. If you wanted to make a spicy one, that might really be good.”

Using his new, powerful food processor, Chris grinds the cashews ‘ until they’re creamy.

“Then,” he said, “you load the sauerkraut with a couple of other things and it magically turns into a cheesy sauce.”

 (For the Isa Chandra recipe, click here.))

Cats

There seems to be a sixth (unofficial) member of the band — Deanna’s cat, Brooklyn.

“You’ll see her on the album art which has her lovely little feet on it,” said Deanna. “The art pieces for each song feature different moments in Brooklyn’s life. Jimmy our guitar/sax Photoshop extraordinaire has crafted them for us.

 Download Lucky Jukebox Brigade’s EP, Splendid Fantastic, Maybe you’ll find yourself saying, “Hey, that band is great!"

Lucky Jukebox Brigade  on iTunes , on Spotify

 

Lucky Jukebox Brigade on Vegetariangazette.com