Joe Cabral answers from a diner in Ohio. He apologizes, hanging up to first pay the bill, then returns the call before resuming his summer-long road trip.
His band, The Iguanas, has embarked on a tour of North America — St. Louis, Chicago, Ann Arbor, Ottawa, Greenfield, Annapolis and Carbondale among the stops. Soon the bus will return to Ohio for gigs Aug. 1 and Aug. 2 at the Southgate House Revival and Beachland Tavern, respectively. The next night a third consecutive show, this one at the Flood City Music Festival in Johnstown.
Just another hard-days’s night for The Iguanas, a band that continues to build on the reputation it started way back in 1989.
“It’s a typical summer,” Cabral says. “We have a lot of festival offers. Then we’ll connect the dots by doing clubs.”
Clubs, of course, have been The Iguanas’ natural habitat. For years they’ve been cutting their teeth primarily at historic venues in New Orleans, their adopted home. And their reputation as a diverse-sounding group — New Orleans street beats with Latin swagger and the occasional songwriter’s ballad — has allowed them to enjoy longevity and a wide-spanning festival
Cabral says The Iguanas’ shows mean dancing and an overall good-time vibe. He and fellow members Rod Hodges, Rene Coman and Doug Garrison regularly go setlist-less, engaging with and reacting to their audiences without adhering to specific genres or albums.
“I think it’s a pretty (musically) broad and rocking show,” he says.
“It’s definitely a groove.”
“We tend to mix it up. We sort of watch the crowd and see what people like. We touch all of (our albums.”
Group members are currently touring in support of their latest release, “Juarez,” a 12-song LP released via Piety Street Files & Archaic Media. It is their ninth studio album. (Cabral confides that his personal favorites are “Soul Kiss” and the opener, “Love,
The Nebraska native also acknowledges the impact that a certain Southern city has had on their sound. He and Hodges were in Colorado decades ago when they decided to make a break for NOLA.
“I wanted to be there,” he says. “A lot of the music I liked came out of New Orleans. New Orleans is awesome because it’s definitely a community and a cultural kind of thing. Music is part of the fabric of life in New Orleans.”
The Iguanas were — naturally — on the road when Katrina hit in 2005. Cabral says they watched the devastation unfold on television.
He adds, however, that the New Orleans has recovered in remarkable and unexpected ways.
“Our whole city was affected,” he says. “(But) a lot of great things have happened. There were opportunities for people to help define what the ‘new’ New Orleans would be. It brought a big influx of people from all over the country. A lot of them stayed.”
Cabral says The Iguanas — equal parts “old” and “new” New Orleans themselves at this point — are looking forward to bringing their sound to Johnstown.
One flood city to another.
“We’re grateful for the opportunity to come to (this) part of the country and play our music,” Cabral says. “I hope a ton of people come out and share it with us.”