The 2010 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival:
An “Easy D” Perspective: Wednesday, April 28, 2010
The Easy D Krewe got off to a shaky start even before I arrived in New Orleans. One of our Krewe threw his back out the weekend prior to the trip and had to withdraw. I can sympathize. I was struggling with back discomfort a couple of years ago. Not fun. Then another member of our Krewe had to return home early to deal with an issue back home. At least he was able to enjoy the club show on Wednesday night and the festival on Thursday. Yet another guy had airline travel issues and was delayed by a day. The rest of the Krewe arrived on schedule on either Wednesday or Thursday.
For Wednesday night, there were 5 of us trying to decide where to go. I was wavering between seeing Papa Mali and Friends at Chickie Wah Wah in the Mid City neighborhood or The Junco Partners at the Maple Leaf Bar in the Carrollton neighborhood in Uptown New Orleans. Both of these shows are typical of the club shows on Jazz Fest weekend in that they are an opportunity for artists from various bands to collaborate on a special show.
The lineup for the Papa Mali show was billed as “The Amalgamation” featuring Papa Mali with Helen Gillet, Harry Hardin, Evan Christopher, Chris Spies, Kirk Joseph, and other very special guests.On the other hand, The Junco Partners show listed John Gros, Brian Stoltz, June Yamagishi, Tony Hall and Raymond Weber. As much as I love Papa Mali (Malcolm Welbourne), so this was a relatively easy decision. The Maple Leaf Bar would be our destination.
I have been to New Orleans many times, but for some unknown reason, I have never attended a show at the iconic Maple Leaf Bar! I have walked by the Bar. I even have friends that live several blocks away. This stop was long overdue. The Maple Leaf Bar has been open since 1974 with music and special events held 7 days a week. It should be noted that the club was the first music club to reopen after Hurricane Katrina operating the band’s equipment on generators and keeping the beer cold with ice in coolers.
I arrived to see John Gros (Papa Grows Funk) unloading his Hammond B3 organ out of a truck. I have met John on several occasions. We chatted for a minute and I pointed out that this was our first stop of the weekend. The club is a neighborhood bar with a small, narrow performance room adjacent to the room where the bar area is located. There is also a very nice patio area in the backyard if you want to get some air, grab a smoke or hang out between sets.
Getting there before the show started afforded the Wednesday Krewe the opportunity to reconnect as friends while watching the band members and stage crew set up for the show. Three of us were from Pittsburgh, one from Frederick, MD, and one from Denver, CO. After he set up his drum kit, I noticed that Raymond Weber (Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk) standing next to me. I introduced myself and we talked about the upcoming weekend.
The lineup for The Junco Partners:
Unfortunately, your scribe did not bring his camera to the show. It was a great rockin’ funk show. Great vocals, great musicianship. This was five of my favorite musicians that are obviously very comfortable playing with each other. Both John Gros and Raymond Weber mentioned how much fun they had practicing for this show. It showed in their performance. A great start to a great weekend!