Sports & Leisure to play Tipitina's

Sports & Leisure, photo by Nick Urrutia
Sports & Leisure, photo by Nick Urrutia

Two years ago, Sports & Leisure frontman Richard Dubourg was stuck on what to call his new band. The six-piece ensemble had gone through more than a hundred options, none of which were acceptable to all six musicians, and most of which were "terrible," Dubourg said.

In fact, the band ended up having to repurpose the name Sports & Leisure.

Sports & Leisure bass player Whitney Brown was playing in a project with Ryan Gray of the local band Luxley, Dubourg said.

"They were kind of fooling around, writing songs, nothing too serious," he said. "Whitney had named that project Sports & Leisure, and I really liked the name. We were just like, ‘Whitney, you guys don't even have a drummer. Can we have that name?'"

Since then, the band has come into its own with much critical acclaim. Incorporating a handful of classical instruments has served them well - the combination of trumpet, clarinet, ukulele and violin puts them in the same league with Givers and Royal Teeth.

"I loved the addition of the violin," Dubourg said. "Initially, a violin wasn't supposed to be part of this band. Jeremy brought it in a month or two after we started practicing."

Dubourg said he had never been in a band with any sort of stringed instrument other than a guitar.

However, the sneakiest of the orchestra instruments the band uses would be the clarinet. The woodwind's mellow tone texture has an interesting effect on Sports & Leisure's final product, in that you might not be able to hear it at all.

"I think we use the clarinet very tastefully, so I think it came out pretty well," Dubourg said. "We try to use it as sort of a low harmony instrument; it's usually a complement to a trumpet part or something. It's really subtle."

The band plans to incorporate even more instruments soon, including trombone and cello, which clarinet player B.J. Blue has already purchased.

Prior to the release of their debut EP "Fitness" several weeks ago, the group launched a highly successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the CD. According to the Kickstarter page, 73 supporters donated $4,863, which is almost $2,000 more than their initial goal.

Four people donated $500 or more, to which the band promised a Lifetime of Leisure prize: free access to all future shows, music or merchandise for life. The band also offered to record any cover song for donors of $100 or more, and for $250 they were willing to write each fan an original tune.

That's one reason Sports & Leisure hasn't been doing much in the way of live shows since their EP release party; Dubourg said he wasn't expecting many people to donate that much money to their cause.

"I was not expecting a single donation that high. Maybe I expected one to do it, but definitely not four," he said, referring to the $500-and-up backers' prize, Lifetime of Leisure.

"What we've mostly been doing since then is fulfilling the Kickstarter promises," Dubourg added. "We're working on them independently, and we're going in tonight to actually start punching them out with the band. But yes, of course, we are going to keep our promises."

In response to their thoughts on touring nationally, Dubourg said it's still up in the air and added that they aren't quite there yet.

"You don't tour just because you're in a band," he said. "There's no real use in going on tour until you can fill every single room you play in your hometown. We're trying to work toward that right now."

Sports & Leisure plays Tipitina's (501 Napoleon Ave., New Orleans) on Saturday, Aug. 3. You can find out more about the band at SportsAndLeisureBand.com. "Fitness," their debut EP, is available on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon.com.