MONDAY NIGHT SPECIAL
She was a contestant last fall on “The Voice,” Team Cee Lo Green. He’s a multi-instrumentalist sideman about town who, with his likewise multitalented brother, Jack, performed with the local prog-rock band Glasgow.
Together, Alexis Marceaux and Sam Craft are Alexis & the Samurai.
The indie-pop duo recently impressed audiences at the French Quarter Festival, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and the Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo.
In June, Marceux and Craft continued their momentum with a monthlong, Monday night residency at Chickie Wah Wah.
“It’s been awesome so far,” Craft said of his and Marceaux’s shows, often graced with special guests, at the Canal Street restaurant and music venue.
Before the Chickie Wah Wah residency, Marceaux and Craft played such late-night venues as the Circle Bar and One-Eyed Jacks. Their residency’s relatively early Monday starting time, 8 p.m., helped them to broaden their audience.
“It’s not a daytime outdoor festival, and it’s not a smoky bar at night,” Craft said. “It’s the medium ground we’ve needed.”
To Marceaux’s relief, Chickie Wah Wah is extending Alexis & the Samurai’s residency through July.
“Because it went so well in June, we were starting to get sad that it was going to end,” she said. “We have so many ideas that we haven’t even touched on yet.”
Alexis & the Samurai use the stage as a musical laboratory, Craft said.
“We develop things that we’ve been working on but are not quite complete,” he explained. “The crowd that comes to Chickie Wah Wah, they’re very open to it. They don’t feel embarrassed for us as we figure things out.”
Guests who have participated in the residency so far include singer-guitarist Alex McMurray, Afghan Whigs and Polyphonic Spree bassist Rick Nelson, Bonerama’s Craig Klein, singer Arsene DeLay and Jack Craft.
For their July 22 show, Craft and Marceaux plan to perform the songs of another duo, Karen and Richard Carpenter. Marceaux and that evening’s guest, Susan Cowsill, share a mutual love for the Carpenters.
“Susan and I connected with that immediately,” Marceaux said. “We have been talking about performing the Carpenters’ songs forever. This residency is the perfect opportunity for us to do songs by people we love.”
Master tunesmith Carole King is another of Marceaux’s classic pop influences.
“People are shocked by that because I’m very young,” she said. “But when you’re a child growing up and learning the voice as an instrument, you connect with people you can sing along with. That’s who did it for me, Karen Carpenter.”
Craft and Marceaux’s musical partnership dates to 2009. He joined her band that year, and she joined Glasgow. They later performed together in Cowsill’s band and then collaborated for Marceaux’s 2011 album, “Orange Moon,” a lush production featuring a large cast of their musician peers, including Cowsill.
For touring purposes, Marceaux’s band shrank into their Alexis & the Samurai duo. Glasgow got absorbed into the recently launched musical collective Sweet Crude, featuring the Craft brothers, Marceaux, multiple drums and keyboards, violin and songs sung in French.
“We’re all dancing around and playing lots of instruments in that band, too,” Craft said.
Marceaux and Craft are currently recording Alexis & the Samurai’s album debut. Whether they’re in a duo or a band format, they think they’re better together than apart.
“He adds so much to something I might just have a blip of an idea for,” Marceaux said.
As for Marceaux, Craft said, “I’m not really a vocalist per se, but if I bring an idea to Alexis, I know she’s going to give it a show-stopping performance.”