By Edwin Buggage
Music for the Soul
Loose Ends Music was an integral part of the soundtrack of the 1980’s; bringing back memories of going to nightclubs such as Nexus, The Touch of Class, Secrets, the Famous or listening to FM 98 or WAIL 105 taping the live set of DJ Slick Leo or cruising on the lakefront on a Sunday. Hailing from the U.K. with their brand of sophisticated soul they had a string of hits such as the dancefloor classic as Slow Down and the sultry, sexy Sweetest Pain and many others.
On this warm day in Armstrong Park the grown and sexy are dressed down with folding portable chairs in tow ready to enjoy the amazing sounds of Loose Ends and Michael Franks who was also on the bill as part of the Crab Festival and Jazz in the Park Series where Data News Weekly was one of the sponsors.
Jane Eugene Dazzles
Data News Weekly had the opportunity to speak with Jane Eugene, one of the members of the original group that also included Keyboard Player, Founder and Writer Steve Nichol, Guitarist and Vocalist Carl McIntosh. On this day though it is Eugene alone who holds it down onstage to the receptive crowd cranking out the hits with her band as she effortlessly sings the classics and updates a few making them fresh and new.
As she leaves the stage she is surrounded by her fans who want to take selfies and just say hello to this great legend in music. Afterwards, her Manager New Orleanian David Lombard, leads me to Jane Eugene who looks every bit as beautiful as she did in the 1980’s. Today she resembles African Royalty dressed casual and chic in white with a yellow top and a red jeweled headpiece with stunning dangling earrings and necklace that compliments it perfectly against her beautiful and flawless chocolate skin.
New Orleans Loves Loose Ends
As we sit she laughs and smiles pleasantly, when asked about her fans from New Orleans whose outpouring of love and support is undeniable, “We love to come to New Orleans because the people are so warm, they are so receptive and I look out in the audience and they are singing along the lyrics to all the songs even the ones that are not singles,” says Eugene in her accent that is a blend of her native U.K. and American since she now calls Los Angeles her home.
Reflections on Loose Ends and How they Revolutionized Music and Fashion
Jane and the band left the stage with people wanting more and after over three decades of performing I asked her what are her favorite songs to perform she says, “You Can’t Stop the Rain” “Slow Down” “Hanging on a String,” and “I’m Gonna Make You Mine” in that order.”
It was not just their music that was part of their cache, but their fashion sense inspired a generation of men and women who copied their style. “I went to the London College of Fashion and I always thought that people first judged you on how you looked, so coming from the fashion world I knew we had to dress how people wanted to look on a regular type basis and not the spandex that was popular at the time. It’s just the way I think about clothes and we made a mark on the times and I think that was great, we inspired and were trendsetters in fashion.”
Their music catalog is chockfull of classics that’s stood the test of time. She says pondering on how some songs today mean something different for her than when she first sang them, “It was just what we wrote and believed in to be quite honest with you. But I did not quite understand “You Can’t Stop the Rain” until my mother died and then it represented for me that you can’t stop certain things from happening. Before I thought it was just a nice hook, a balladry type thing. But as you grow, and experience life songs come to mean different things. I think this may be true of the people who listen to the songs as well.”
For those who were excited to see Jane many wondered will there ever be a reunion of the three original members? Jane does not rule it out but says it is not likely at the present time. “Sometimes I work with Steve Nichol; Carl we haven’t spoken in minute. I don’t know if a reunion is going to happen, but I love both of them and we couldn’t have done it without the three of us.”
Music Industry and the Future
This great singer’s taste in music is very eclectic and surprisingly she says today her music of choice is hip-hop especially Kendrick Lamar and the newest R&B Sensation SZA. But her views of the current state of the music industry is mixed. “It is hard for people to make it. When we had record companies you kind of knew if you could get to Virgin Records and get this guy to listen to my demo then there’s a possibility of us making it. Today it is harder because you have to come up with the marketing money; you have to come up with all that yourself and push yourself and try to make it happen for yourself. Then you have to sell records then you may get a distribution deal and possibly everybody’s going to hear you. With us it was much easier to have a hit I believe.”
New Orleans its People and their Influence and Inspiration on the World
While the people of New Orleans loves Loose Ends and Jane, the love, admiration and respect goes both ways. “Obviously I love the food,” she says laughing. “I love the mixture of different kind of people, also they are so warm and caring,” she says of the things she loves about the Crescent City.
Speaking of their resilience she says recounting coming to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. “We came not long after Katrina happened, and I saw how people kept going and they were strong; think about what happened to you’ll here,” she says touching my arm as I nod. “How you had to recover, some people just came from nothing to something, you just have to keep going and who does that. New Orleans who else does that.”
Continuing heaping her praise for the people of New Orleans she says, “The people of this City are so resilient because they went through something very traumatic that the rest of the country did not go through. So, I think when people come out they come to enjoy themselves they know what it really means to be here present to have fun because they lost a lot of people and may have lost someone.”
As we conclude onlookers are off in the distance trying to get a glimpse of this magnificent singer whose heart and soul shines as bright as the yellow sun colored top she is wearing. She smiles and waves as fans yell her name saying how much they love her and the music of Loose Ends.
Looking into the crowd I see and remember some of the faces from those days when we were all a bit younger in the 80’s. It is a moment that is bittersweet; reminiscing about when life in New Orleans was very different and, on this day, we were all taken back by the sounds of Loose Ends, Michael Franks and Slick Leo, who was the DJ. We were as our ancestors were carrying on a tradition in Armstrong Park and Congo Square celebrating life, living and what it means to be from New Orleans.