'Loose Change,' area band with local roots, gears up for its biggest tour ever

Staff Report

Ask three longtime musicians when they landed their biggest break, and they will say it’s just around the corner.

It’s not just a figure of speech for Chad Dupuy, Donald Miletello, Ricky Green, who comprise the band “Loose Change.”

Chad Dupuy, Donald Miletello and Ricky Green comprise the band "Loose Change," which will perform this summer in Atlanta and Savannah, Ga.

The trio, who have played dance halls throughout Louisiana and Mississippi during their career, will perform July 5-8 at the Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga.

The NASCAR Cup Series event draws upward of 105,000 fans – and that’s only inside the raceway arena. Thousands more will converge in the area around the facility.

“It’s a huge break for us,” said Miletello, who cut his first record at a Maringouin studio in 1964. “It’s as big a break as JazzFest.”

The music ranges from country to rock to blues to swamp pop.

It’s the mood of the audience that dictates the direction for the evening, said Dupuy, a Prairieville resident and 1990 White Castle High School graduate.

“We’re a blues-based band, going from country to blues to classic rock to swamp pop,” he said. “On the first set, I mix it and see how they react, and go from there.”

The tour comes on the heels of the release of their “Fun Stuff” CD, an eclectic mix that transcends several genres.

"Fun Stuff" is the latest CD by Loose Change.

Tunes on the CD – recorded at Rabadash Studios in Covington – include “Walking Through the Park,” “Gravity,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Tupelo Honey” and “Keep Your Hands to Yourself,” among others.

The tour came as a stroke of luck, the band members said.

Miletello, 71, was performing a gig with band members Green, 65, and Dupuy, 49, when a man in the audience approached the stage.

He asked them if they wanted to perform in Atlanta, and that offer led to a few additional shows in Savannah a couple days prior to the Quaker State 400.

“You never know who will be in the audience on any given night,” said Green, who lives in the Washington Parish town of Varnado. “That’s why it’s important we give our best performance every night.”

All three sing. Green also plays bass guitar and harmonica, while Dupuy also plays guitar and keyboard.

Miletello – who plays drums – started at age 7.

He grew up in the Pointe Coupee community of Frogmore, near the Iberville Parish line, during an era when the Baton Rouge area had an abundance of recording studios, and AM radio stations would play local songs.

His roots stretch back to 1957 as a member of The Falcons, a rhythm ’n’ blues and swamp/pop fusion band.

They recorded “High School Ring” on the SAL Records label, based in Maringouin, in 1964.

“Everybody I grew up around followed The Boogie Kings,” he said. “There have been so many greats out there, and when you could play that kind of music with dynamics, it’s more about entertaining than playing music.

“I always like to bring my music to the next level,” Miletello said. “Once you’re settled in what you’re doing and think you know it all, you’re in trouble … you never learn it all in music.”

The band’s formation was a stroke of luck, he said.

“The pandemic took us out, and the bass player started playing in church on Sunday and he didn’t want to go back to playing in clubs, while the keyboard player (Ronnie Barnes) had a fatal heart attack while performing in church,” he said.

“I had a whole lot of shows on the books for LaRouge, and the guitar player tore his rotator cuff, so I was using Chad to fill in. So, after that, I went in a different direction.”

They united with Miletello during the pandemic and found a common bond.

“We had no attitude, no egos,” Dupuy said. “We all wanted to go on stage and have fun playing music.”

The group knew it had a rhythm from the start.

“The first time we met, we stepped on stage and played music,” Miletello said. “You could tell the chemistry was there.”

Not many clubs allowed music during the pandemic. Those that still featured bands had to perform outdoors and call it a night by 10.

“We played a lot in Mississippi, where they had no restrictions,” he said.

That time gave the band a chance to record a CD and build a greater bond as performers.

“Our main thing is to go out there and have fun,” Miletello said. “The thing about music is that you must incorporate the crowd into what you’re going to do.

“The crowd feeds the band’s energy, and the band feeds off the crowd’s energy,” he said.

The band has no plans to stop.

“For the three of us, playing a music is like a hobby,” Miletello said. “Collecting coins and playing golf is a hobby. This is a passion.”

Miletello’s work with The Falcons – recorded in Maringouin – is featured in the “Downhome Music” exhibit created by Plaquemine native Allen Kirkland, who now lives in Addis.

The exhibit is on display at the Iberville Museum, 57735 Main St., Plaquemine.