As a longtime analyst of Mobile’s music scene, my pick as one of the most gratifying success stories has been Roman Street. Every time the two brothers, Joshua and Noah Thompson, along with percussion accompanist, Daniel Brett, play area events, the gravitational pull of their unique-to-Mobile music draws listeners like bees to honey. Their fifth collection of music is due to be released this month.
What can we expect from your new release?
Noah Thompson: The album is called “Christmas Rhumba.” An original medley of Christmas tunes, the project consists of traditional holiday music and old European hymns. We tried not to regurgitate the same old songs. We altered the tempo and set some to a danceable rhumba beat. However, some tunes so clearly communicated the joy of the season that we didn’t touch them much; we just tried to play them as beautifully as possible.
How is a Roman StreetChristmas album unique?
N.T.: It’s rhumba, baby! We injected different flavors. While South American rhumba is our M.O., we were channeling Buena Vista Social Club, Django Reinhardt, Jesse Cook and James Horner’s “Legends of the Fall” soundtrack. We think it made an enjoyable combination.
Since the last album, “Shorelines, ” the band seems to be experimenting with different instrumentation. Is that trend carried over into this recording?
N.T.: Yes, actually, and we went a bit further. We used violins, violas, keyboards, church bells, organs, bass/contrabass and even a trumpet. We used many of the musicians that play in our concerts around the area: Melody Duncan (violins/viola), her brother Chris Duncan (keys), Jo Jo Morris (bass), and our area rep, Randy Davis (trumpet).
Has local success affected the band’s general popularity?
N.T.: Profoundly! It helps in every facet of our business, from name recognition to encouraging emails from fans. Short story: I was in Napa Valley a few weeks ago doing a wine tasting and got to talking to the sommelier, a nice lady from San Rafael, Calif. She asked me what I did, and I told her I played in a band called Roman Street. Her face lit up. She was a fan because her sister lives in Mobile and sent her some CDs. Our local success has bolstered our appeal and encouraged us to sharpen our product. Without the support of the Mobile area, Roman Street wouldn’t be what it is today.
Roman Street will be performing several Christmas concerts. For schedules, visit romanstreet.com. “Christmas Rhumba” is available at select local retailers,
romanstreet.com, iTunes and Amazon.