When Ingrid Lucia takes the stage as one of the featured vocalists of the New Orleans Nightingales, a showcase of female singers performing at Preservation Hall on Dec. 8., she displays the same sly charm learned growing up as a street musician in the Crescent City.
“My dad started a family band, so we used to play on Jackson Square and on Royal Street. The band started when I was 11, so New Orleans music was always a big influence on me,” Lucia said, “I love New Orleans for so many reasons, and the music is a big part of it.”
That love of the city came largely from her father, Poppa Neutrino, who launched the Flying Neutrinos band to play vintage music on the streets of the French Quarter. This allowed Ingrid and her siblings to hone their musical skills with the help of the New Orleans musician community.
“So many of the people that I’ve played with now were teachers to us when we were kids, like Craig ‘Sparky’ Klein (trombonist) and General French. A lot of players would come through and sit in with our family band to play and show us a note or two, and it was very valuable,” Lucia said.
Lucia eventually moved to New York, and even toured internationally before the desire to return to New Orleans became too strong.
“I came back to New Orleans because I wanted to play with people that I had fun playing with and who inspired me and gave me that extra ‘oomph’ to want to keep performing,” Lucia said.
That affiliation with the city’s musicians let her tap into a great talent pool for the New Orleans Nightingales, which showcases local female singers like Sophie Lee, Lena Prima, Banu Gibson and many others. Lucia describes the Nightingales as a mix of New Orleans roots music, second line, swing, and shuffle blues.
Along with her vocal talent, Lucia is also a songwriter who has created songs that seem to arrive as almost fully formed musical stories.
“Sometimes the idea will just come right into your head with a beginning, a middle and an end,” she said. “Those are usually the best songs, because it’s almost like a message being sent to you, and if you’re quick enough to grab it, it’s incredible.”
In addition to the music, another thing Lucia came to appreciate about her father was his beatnik approach to life, which led him to build a series of raft shelters on the waterways to be used as their family residence.
“We lived in houses for a few months at a time, or boats or buses. But my dad was a huge adventurer, so boat living was a big part of our upbringing,” Lucia said. “He always believed that rent was what kept a man down from following his dreams. He learned that the waterways were open territory, so he started building rafts and boats from the time I was a little kid.”
Lucia’s father passed away a year and a half ago, and Lucia believes that the Flying Neutrinos family band may return someday. For now, however, she is excited to perform with the New Orleans Nightingales.
“It makes you want to ‘up your game’ and put on a really good show,” she said. “We’ve got a great lineup of players, and we’re going to get rid of the fat and get to the great part of the music.”
The New Orleans Nightingales featuring Ingrid Lucia performs at Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter St., Saturday, Dec 8. For more info go to NewOrleansNightingales.com.