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JoJo Hermann of WSP Releases New Slim Wednesday Album ‘Reptile Show’: Interview

John “Jojo” Hermann of Widespread Panic is bringing his side project Slim Wednesday to The Pour House this weekend in promotion of the band’s new album Reptile Show. The album was created with members of The Dynamites and was released on April 6th. The shows are April 13th & 14th. Tickets available here.

Slim Wednesday is made up of Jojo and an incredible crew from The Dynamites, including Bill Elder (Leo Black) bandleader/guitarist for the Dynamites, Jonathan Jackson who plays sax/keyboard for Macy Grey in addition to trumpet/sax for The Dynamites, Ben Clark, who plays trumpet for Anderson East, Greg Bryant who is on bass with jazz vocalist Dara Tucker, Jovan Quallo on sax, and Kevin Mabin on drums, who actually attended church with Jojo.

We were lucky enough to get an early look at Reptile Show at the end of March, and I got up with Jojo on the phone to talk a little bit about the album, Charleston, and what we can expect from Slim Wednesday’s Spring Tour. When Jojo called he was in his barn checking out his chickens and their new chicks. Here’s a couple bits from our conversation.

Let’s talk about Slim Wednesday.

Yeah man, we’re coming to the Pour House next week for a couple of nights.

Last Year was your first time coming to Charleston?

Yeah you know, we do a little spring run, ten shows or something. Then the crawfish season kicks in and we’ll go down to New Orleans and Mississippi and of course get down there, too. And you know Charleston is one of my favorite cities. Beautiful city.

How’d you get the name of the album?

Well that’s how the show was and ya know there is a song on the album called “Reptile Show” and we just kinda made it that. But ya know for this record I really gotta give all the props to Bill Elder ya know guitar player and he sings man he just brought in really great songs. We tracked them in Atlanta at Diamond Street Studios and Spencer this really cool little studio in Five Points. We tracked everything in three days then Spenc and Bill really did a great job.

When did you start recording?

We recorded last year in October, we had a day off last Spring and we went in and tracked a bunch of these songs and then I think in the Fall we went down for a day or two. I have an old demo song from like ten years ago and stuck that on there. We were just like, “Let’s put it out there.”

Besides influences like Professor Longhair and Dr. John, what were some of the lesser-known musicians you took influence from?

Ya know Pete Johnson doesn’t get mentioned enough he is really one of the biggest. When I find myself just playing half the licks I’m doing are just Pete Johnson.

How did you and everyone in The Dynamites crew link up?

I’ve been a big fan of The Dynamites. Charles Walker, I’ve known them for 10 years. They built a studio down here called Dark Horse and he was doing the Dynamite thing. They are just really really incredible at New Orleans funk. Dorsey rhythms and beaters. There’s a real heavy beaters thing going on. All the guys we just love doing this music and just gettin’ out there and playing some New Orleans funk.

Are you bringing any of your WSP rig like the organ or the clavinet?

I’ll be bringing a keyboard with of course all those sounds, but yeah not the actual clavinet I use.

Anyone who enjoys the New Orleans sound will love this album and their 2-night run at the Pour House. Whether it’s big band swing, NOLA funk, or even the more dusty voodoo sound played acoustically, Jojo, Bill Elder, and company do an incredible job of piecing together influences to celebrate a culture with a deep-rooted relationship to music.

The two night Pour House run will hold a Friday night show April 13th, an afternoon Deck Set, and a Saturday show. Friday night will open with Poho Family Funk Revue led by Micheal Quinn on the deck, then Gaslight Street, followed by Jojo’s Slim Wednesday. Saturday will hold a very special Slim Wednesday Trio performance at 4:20, as well as Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country which is tagged as a Lowcountry Boil Fiesta: A Tribute to the Music of Professor Longhair. Saturday night inside will have Kalu & The Electric Joint opening for Slim Wednesday.

Jojo seemed incredibly excited to be coming to Charleston twice in a month’s time. First for this run with Slim Wednesday and next for Charleston’s own Trondossa Music Festival at Riverfront Park with Widespread Panic. The weekend will be a celebration of NOLA sound, a new album, and will even help us gear up for some WSMFP!