Rebel Noire and the Accomplices is celebrating the release of their new EP, Unarmed, with a release party on Saturday, October 6th at LangLab in South Bend. With an indefinable sound bringing together the genres of rock, blues, jazz, soul, and whatever else is needed to deliver their message, the new music release is highly anticipated in the local music scene.
The band has been hard to miss in 2023. Their live performances have been plentiful, including opening for The Rutabega at their exciting return show and playing on the Michigan side of the border for the first time at the inaugural Bloomingbus Festival at Bloomingbus Farms.
Members of the band hail from across Michiana, built over the years from various collaborations into the solid six-piece we see on the stage today. Horns and keys are mixed in with expanded guitars and drum beats, blanketed in the poetry of Rebel’s lyricism, often sung, but also spoken. The “cocktail of sound”, as she describes it, serves to deliver earnest contemplations. The music satisfies, but it also acts as disruptive art; social commentary drawn from a place of personal experience or historical relevance.
“I don’t see myself as an entertainer,” Rebel describes.
Rebel is not one to hold back, with intention in all aspects of her music, her staging, the band’s merchandise, and even the paint she wears while performing. She explains her art as originating in history, whether it be that which she lived or that which she learned. The context for all is in what she labels as “the key of black woman-ness”. A duality is also common, as heard in the previous release Truthteller. The imagery is drawn from an old photo of a lynching, so old that the rope was no longer visible and it could almost seem like a sea of white people who had come to see a man fly. The track addresses the horrific moment, but also meditates on the magic of rising above. The message is delivered bluntly, but without judgment. She invites her audience to join her in our shared human history, however we may fall into it, and to sit with those feelings. More often than not, she is approached after shows by people reporting how they were moved by her music.
“It’s been a beautiful kind of surprise who is drawn to what we do,” Rebel says.
The Accomplices are made up of Devin Brewer on the keys, Jason Brewer on bass, Abraham Medellin on guitar, Tyrus Tucker on drums, Evan Judson on trumpet, and Evan Krabill on saxophone. They build their own pieces, unifying the Rebel Noire and the Accomplices sound. The members have crystallized into a unified, collaborative sound, built on trust and support, both in the band and as individuals in the world and in their separate artistic pursuits.
“I feel so much love for this group of people,” says Rebel.
They rise in a time that sees similar movement in the local music and art scene. Musicians of incredible talent can be found performing in a variety of venues, whether it be the curated event experience of The Rocki Button, the casual industrial vibe of LangLab, the community coworking and entertainment space of Stockroom East, or any of the growing number of local music and art rooms in the region.
Coming from New York City, Rebel describes the local scene as rivaling that of modern NYC, with less commercialism and more authenticity. Artists can afford to pursue their passions with a lower threshold for cost of living. An infrastructure exists, built on local artists showing up for and supporting each other. The spirit of generosity has sparked the fire of a scene where audiences and artists alike can have pride.
“I can come to the Rocki Button in South Bend and have the kind of experience that I would have had in Chelsea, on the lower east side,” Rebel says.
Unarmed will be available at the LangLab release party on Saturday, October 7th, with additional release details for both a Standard and Deluxe version to be announced. Attendees to the release party will be greeted with entertainment from DJ Abril and DJ Que and will receive a swag bag that includes the deluxe version of the CD. Rebel describes the theme of being unarmed, vulnerable and exposed, threading through each of the tracks, with songs about love, relationships, and Black being.