Andi Hoffmann may have been born in Switzerland, but his heart belongs to his adopted home of New Orleans. The pop musician, who prefers to think of himself as a roots musician, eagerly blends his music with the sounds of the Big Easy, from the nature in the surrounding countryside to the region's Cajun music. His Basil for Nino CD, for example, which was released with his band the B-Goes, contains about 20 minutes of the sound of rain coming down in Louisiana. The recording also contains a spoken-word stretch that lasts about five minutes and is delivered by Nino Bongiomo. Hoffmann met Bongiomo when he brought some of the basil he'd grown to Bongiomo for his restaurant. The herb inspired the restauranteur to tell the musician about his years in Italy and his immigrant experience, and the restauranteur in turn inspired the immigrant musician's creativity.
Hoffmann founded the B-Goes in 1989 in Switzerland, pulling together an ensemble for the purpose of recording and he headed to the states four years later. The Crescent City entranced the musician, and he decided to put down roots there. With the region's aural candy -- everything from foghorns and brass bands to gospel music and the insect sounds of the bayous -- sweetening his decision to stay and calling him on, Hoffmann headed to Lafayette, LA, to work on 937 Dante Street, his third album. The album hit store shelves in 1996, and Hoffmann and the B-Goes backed its release with a tour of Europe and the U.S. The B-Goes are bassist Tom McDonald, who also performs with Anders Osborne; drummer Mark Whitaker, who also plays for Woodenhead; Tom Marron on fiddle; and Elisabeth Gill providing backup vocals. Also contributing to Basil for Nino were Mark Mullins on trombone and Dave Easley on steel guitar.