Published on June 23rd, 1994 | by Gerry Galipault0
The Iguanas are doing the ‘Nuevo Boogaloo’
Ask Rod Hodges to describe the Iguanas’ offbeat sound and even he’s hard-pressed for words.
“That’s a question I get all the time and I still don’t have a good answer,” the singer-guitarist-accordian player said recently on a stop in the New Orleans-based band’s opening stint for Jimmy Buffett.
“It’s just a blending of all the music we individually like and have enjoyed through the years,” Hodges said. “There’s R&B, Latin music, a little jazz, country-western. It’s a blending of all that stuff, with a healthy dose of rock ‘n’ roll.”
Not unlike Los Lobos, but with a different approach and, Hodges said, “a different flavor.”
Hodges, who’s been in blues and rock bands since he was 14, rediscovered the music of his mother’s Mexican heritage and was inspired by Flaco Jiminez. Singer-tenor sax player Joe Cabral was raised in Omaha, Neb., and drew from his experiences watching his father’s Mexican band; drummer Doug Garrison, who replaced Willie Panker last year, played alongside the likes of Alex Chilton in Memphis, while tenor saxophonist Derek Huston played roots rock and R&B in his native Washington, D.C.
How did five guys from different areas of the country get together?
“The catalyst was New Orleans,” said Hodges, who grew up in San Francisco. “Our bass player (Rene Coman) is from there, but the rest of us kind of gravitated there just for the love of New Orleans and the music. We all wanted to learn from the great musicians there, so we all had that in common.”
The Iguanas formed in 1989 and quickly became a big draw in the Big Easy, catching Buffett’s attention during the Jazz and Heritage Festival. He signed them to his new label, Margaritaville Records, and issued their self-titled debut album in early ’93.
Never straying far from its potent melodies and having-a-party attitude, the Iguanas returned May 24 with its second effort, “Nuevo Boogaloo,” and are touring again with Buffett.
Which makes one wonder, are the Iguanas winning over Buffett’s Parrot-Head fans?
“We play to so many people, there’s bound to be some out there who like our music,” Hodges said with a laugh. “It’s hard for any band if you’re opening for a major act, because people are there to see that act, so there’s already a strike against you. It’s not easy, but they’re enjoying our set … They haven’t gotten surly on us yet.”