When the band formed in 2004, Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue were at the vanguard of New Orleans’ now-thriving country scene, and they’ve remained in a league of their own ever since. Combining evocative songwriting and impeccable musicianship, their dance hall show and infectious energy on stage have earned them their place in the upper echelon of local favorites and helped grow an avid fan-base of two-steppers around the world.
Sometimes called “The Punk Rock Patsy Cline”, “The Gal” is Vanessa Niemann, an Appalachian-born songstress who has lent her powerful voice and magnetic stage presence to various musical projects in New Orleans and around the country. Over the years, the Revue has counted among its ranks some of the finest musicians in the region. The current roster boasts guitarists Matt Slusher and Justin LeCuyer in addition to drummer Rose Cangelosi, and upright bassist Corey McGillivary, all excellent songwriters and singers in their own right, adding tight harmonies to the sound.
These multi-time Big Easy and Best of the Beat Award recipients have shared the stage with Willie Nelson, Marcia Ball, Blind Boys of Alabama, and countless others. 2018 was their eleventh year appearing at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, packing the Gentilly Stage where Lyle Lovett would perform later that day. Their albums have reached as high as third on the FAR Charts (Freeform American Roots Music) and the top 100 on the AMA Charts (Americana Airplay, Americana Music Association.)
Gal Holiday continues to tour both within the U.S. and Internationally. After a successful European tour this past summer, the band returned home to make their newest release, Lost & Found. Recorded over four days in November 2017 at Dial Back Sound in Water Valley, MS, the album has a lush soundscape thanks to the bands’ spirit guide and producer, Jimbo Mathus, and studio engineer, Bronson Tew. With an unmistakable Gulf Coast feel, Lost & Found touches on themes of loss, change, and discovery in twelve songs written by Vanessa, Rose, Justin and Jimbo.
Although 2018 will be a tour heavy year, you can still find them raising a ruckus in New Orleans and surrounding areas at dance halls, festivals, and local watering holes most any day of the week. They know the ins and outs of the country canon and can even get folks swinging to an unexpected pop cover or two, but above all, vivid songwriting is one of the group’s great strengths. Their rollicking foot-stompers and poignant Crescent City tributes alike crackle with an authentic country spirit.
Armed with this kind of versatility and an ever-growing body of original material, they put on a show that never gets old, delighting rowdy dancers, buttoned-down diners, and new-to-country music listeners alike. New Orleans may be most closely associated with Jazz and Funk, but Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue prove that the city celebrates its musical diversity with enthusiasm.
THE PLAYERS ::
Vanessa Niemann - Bandleader, Vocals
“The Gal” is Vanessa Niemann, an Appalachian-born, Maryland bred musician who has lent her powerful voice and magnetic stage presence to various musical projects in New Orleans and around the country. Credit is due to her mother and father, both of whom are talented musicians and filled the house with music while Vanessa was growing up. Experimenting early on with clarinet and trombone, her first loves of piano and voice are the lasting ones and those which have carried her throughout a 23 year career.
Vanessa performed regularly in talent shows, at church and in countless plays and musicals settling on acting as a chosen artistic path. She studied theater through VPA, a Frederick County, MD high school magnet program but quickly found herself restless, leaving high school mid way through her Senior year. When she got wind of an audition for a Big Band at the age of 18, Vanessa jumped at the opportunity to be back on stage. For one year, she performed around the MD, DC, and VA area with Doc Scantlin and His Imperial Palms Orchestra, dancing and singing Andrews Sisters style trio harmonies while learning the ins and outs of how a large scale professional band is run.
After relocating to New Orleans in 1999 for a job with New York City fashion designer, Betsey Johnson, Vanessa found the desire to perform again. It was the height of the Burlesque revival era and she quickly became involved with The Original Shim Shamettes, dancing in group numbers and singing for the troupe. When they disbanded, she found herself involved with The SophistiCats and The SophistiKittens, a surf and bump-n-grind style band with Go-Go dancers. When the group decided to go totally instrumental in 2004, Vanessa set out to create her own project, Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue.
Throughout the years, Vanessa has lent her talent to other musical acts both on stage and in the studio, highlights which include The Blind Boys of Alabama, Dr. John, and Squirrel Nut Zippers, with whom she has toured. She appears on their 2018 release, Beasts of Burgundy as a soloist on the album closer, Fade and continues to work closely with Jimbo Mathus who produced Lost & Found.
Justin LeCuyer - Acoustic Rhythm Guitar & Backing Vocals
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native, Justin LeCuyer first picked up the guitar at 12 years old after receiving one as a birthday gift. Early on, his father was a heavy influence on his musical tastes, playing Jazz and Blues on guitar when Justin was growing up. He came to New Orleans in 2012 to explore the music scene, and like many northerners before him, to escape the harsh winters. Justin is also a competent fiddle player, mostly in the vein of Appalachian old time music and he has played with bluegrass and country bands over the years including, most recently country/square dance band, Lost in the Holler, and Gal Holiday since March 2017.
Corey McGillivary - Upright Bass & Backing Vocals
Corey McGillivary grew up in Anchorage, Alaska and started playing the upright bass in middle school orchestra. She has also played guitar, ukulele, and banjo, traveling around with different bands until the Black Death All Stars needed a bassist around 2010 and she picked it up again. A wanderer in her early days, Corey came to New Orleans about ten years ago on a train with her ukulele and her dog and has called the city home ever since. She has worked with with lots of bands playing pre-WWII blues, jazz and jugband tunes with groups like The Slick Skillet Serenaders, and The Hokum High Rollers, and country music with Pat Reedy, and Miss Martha and Her Goodtime Gang. She joined Gal Holiday in February 2017.
Tony Frickey - Drums
Born and raised in south Louisiana, drummer Tony Frickey started out by playing snare drum in 5th grade for his school concert band. Moving onto a full kit by 6th grade, he started like so many others by playing in church and continued throughout high school, attending the Jazz program at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, or NOCCA. Rock and roll was his true passion, however and in 2005, Tony started playing with bands as various as The Standard Band, The Fens, The Tumbleweeds, The Long Time Goners and Strange Roux on New Orleans’ now famous Frenchmen Street. He joined Gal Holiday in August 2018.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ::
"Vanessa Niemann aka Gal Holiday paints a masterpiece on her new "Lost & Found." She's completely come into her own as a bandleader, songwriter and singer. Everyone needs to own this record and support Gal & her fine band out there on the road. Boot Scootin' Music!!!"
-Jimbo, Taylor, MS
- Keith Spera, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
“Somehow this exciting band manages to sound like they’ve been around since the early days of the Grand Ol’ Opry while sounding new and fresh at the same time. Gal Holiday is the cure for modern country music’s doldrums if commercial radio would just pay attention.”
-Marvin O’Dell, Musikode Productions, The Country Campfire, Defenders of Freedom Radio, Albuquerque, NM and KKRN, Redding, CA
"In a time when many country artists are slanting towards pop music, Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue present a clear country sound in their latest album Last To Leave. Led by front woman Vanessa Niemann, the album is full of original music, but also includes a cover of Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield,” which will please both rock and country fans."
- Haley Adam, New Orleans Magazine (Read & Spin – Jan. 2014)
“The Louisiana Hayride Lives! Swingabilly New Orleans style from a hot little combo fronted by honeyvoiced Holiday.”
- offBeat Magazine
“To hear Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue is to hear the authentic, quality root of modern rock n’ roll and country that too many fat businessmen in tall glass buildings have bastardized.”
- Adam Tustin, Examiner.com
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS ::
Highlights of our more than 1500 live shows include ::
• Gator By the Bay: 2015 (San Diego, CA)
• Exit Zero Jazz Festival: 2015 (Cape May, NJ)
• NSU Folk Life Festival: (Natchitoches, LA)
• Telluride Bluegrass Festival: 2007
• And many other fairs and festivals in LA, TX & CO
GAL HOLIDAY has shared stages & performed with some talented musicians including ::
• Willie Nelson
• The Blind Boys of Alabama
• Wayne Hancock
• Dale Watson
• Marcia Ball
• Lyle Lovett
• Mike Ness (Social Distortion)
• Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys
• Rosie Flores
• Thacker Mountain Radio (remote in Laurel, MS)
• Emeril's Annual Carnivale du Vin (NOLA)
• Pontchartrain Vineyards (Covington, LA)
• The Botanical Gardens in City Park (NOLA)
• Ogden Museum of Southern Art (NOLA)
• New Orleans Museum of Art (NOLA)
• Grand Old Echo @ The Echoplex (Los Angeles, CA)
• Mid-City Lanes Rock ‘n’ Bowl (NOLA)
• Tipitina’s (NOLA)
• House of Blues (NOLA)
• Lakeview Park & Beach (Eunice, LA)
• Artmosphere (Lafayette, LA)
• Blue Moon Saloon (Lafayette, LA)
• The Continental Club (Austin, TX)
• The Driskill Hotel (Austin, TX)
• The Rattle Inn (Austin, TX)
• White Elephant (Ft. Worth, TX)
• Lee Harvey's (Dallas, TX)
• Seminole Casino (Coconut Creek, FL)
• Skipper's Smokehouse (Tampa, FL)
• Bamboo Room (Lake Worth, FL)
• Cowgirl BBQ (Santa Fe, NM)
• High Desert Brewing Co. (Las Cruces, NM)
• Skylark Lounge (Denver, CO)
• Sherbino Theatre (Ridgway, CO)
• Paradise Theatre (Paonia, CO)
• Yucca Tap Room (Phoenix, AZ)
• Viva Cantina (Burbank, CA)
• Joe's Great American Bar & Grill (Burbank, CA)
• Pappy & Harriet's (Pioneertown, CA)
• Narducci's Cafe (Bakersfield, CA)
• Brick & Mortar (SF, CA)
• Best Country/Folk Band 2010: Best of the Beat Award, offbeat Magazine *Award voted on by international readership
• Best Country/Folk Album 2010: Best of the Beat Award, offbeat Magazine *Award voted on by international readership
• Best Country/Folk Band 2009: Big Easy Awards (NOLA)
• Best Country/Folk Band 2008: Big Easy Awards (NOLA)
TV/Film appearances ::
• Featured in a statewide advertising campaign for Louisiana Propane