Mali plays music that makes you hungry |

Mali plays music that makes you hungry

Autumn Phillips
What: Papa Mali When: 10 p.m. today and Saturday Where: The Tugboat Grill & Pub in Ski Time Square Cost: $5

It’s music that drips with the sound of barbeque and cornbread. It’s the kind of music that makes you hungry, not just for ribs and baked beans but also for a trip to the South.

Papa Mali and the Instagators play a brand of New Orleans swamp music that moves between the blues and Mardi Gras Indian carnival music. Although he calls Austin, Texas, home, Papa Mali (nee Malcolm Welbourne) still plays the music that inspired him while growing up in Mississippi and Louisiana.

“Thunder Chicken,” the first album released under the Papa Mali name, has a few originals but also features classic carnival music such as The Wild Magnolia’s “Fire Water.”

“That’s been one of my favorite songs for a long time,” Mali said. “Growing up in Louisiana, I heard a lot of carnival music during Mardi Gras and the rest of the year. I added that song to my repertoire about ten years ago.”

“Thunder Chicken” was recorded in five days.

“I guess it comes down to the fact that I’ve been doing what I do for a while now, and that comes out in the way I play it,” Mali said.

Music fans may know Welbourne from his previous band, a prominent reggae project called The Killer Bees. It was while The Killer Bees were on the road with Burning Spear that Melbourne was given the nickname “Papa Mali.”

“These Jamaican guys all had kids back home,” Mali said. “Mali was short for Malcolm, but when they came to my house and saw that I have children, I think it made them homesick, and they started calling me ‘papa.'”

Papa Mali played in Steamboat a couple of times in the past year at Sabre’s Comedy Den but will be performing at The Tugboat Grill & Pub this weekend.

He will return to town this weekend as a trio with Robbie Kidd playing drums and Aaron Wilkinson playing bass.

“Our live show is a lot of funky drum beats, slide guitar and spacey, dubbed out vocals,” Mali said. “It’s a lot of Southern-fried funk stuff.”

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