007 is the brainchild of Jeffrey "the Houseman" Clemens (drummer for G,Love and Special Sauce), who found one musical stone unturned on the vibrant music scene in his adopted hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana. Knowing that rocksteady is an essential era for fans of Jamaican music, Clemens assembled a band of outstanding local musicians dedicated to celebrating this treasured sliver of 1960s pop music. While ska and reggae are more commonly recognized styles among roots music fans, rocksteady is the crucial link between the two. Emerging in the mid-60s, rocksteady is, in simple terms, ska at half speed, minus the horns, with a prominent bass line. It's the mellow precursor to Bob Marley-style forthright reggae, and its simple vocal harmonies spout lyrics about good times, romance, and the politics of freedom.
Named for Desmond Dekker's 1967 rude boy anthem, 007 was born to revive the well-loved and oft-forgotten songs of rocksteady's very limited heyday (1966-1968). The repertoire includes songs by a host of rocksteady artists such as Dekker, the Jamaicans, Alton Ellis, Delroy Wilson, and Justin Hinds. 007 produces an authentic rocksteady sound, covering these classic tunes in a live setting much like they sound on the original recordings. In spite of their collective affinity for the Jamaican tradition, the band members come from a variety of musical backgrounds. With Clemens singing and anchoring the beat, guitarists Alex McMurray and Jonathan Freilich make up the front line. McMurray is best know as front man for popular New Orleans rock band Royal Fingerbowl. Freilich, a local avant-garde jazz mogul, plays with the New Orleans Klezmer Allstars. The lineup is rounded out by bassist Joe Cabral, who is best known as saxophonist for Tex-Mex outfit the Iguanas. Cabral contributes lead vocals on the best-known rocksteady tune of all time, "The Tide is High," which was originally recorded by the Paragons before Blondie turned it into a #1 hit in 1980.
Cabral and Clemens on Jazzfest jumbotron