Posts Tagged ‘Billy Iuso’

As my fifth New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival gets closer, the anticipation gets stronger. This year is a little different- I have two friends coming to Jazz Fest on my say so, so I’m a little stressed, wanting to make sure they tell me what they want to hear, making sure they love it as much as I do. So in prepping for my favorite week of the year, here are some things you don’t want to miss:

At the fairgrounds:

Thursday, May 3rd

High School Gospel Choirs: I like to open my fest with the McMain Singing Mustangs – every year, these kids bring some serious firepower to the Gospel Tent.  McDonogh #35 High School also does some incredible stuff later in the afternoon.

New Orleans Music Legends: Bassist George Porter Jr. has probably played on your favorite album, whether with Tori Amos, David Byrne, being the bass line sampled for tons of hip hop classics, or with his own groundbreaking work with the legendary Meters. Do yourself a favor and see him. While you’re at it, check out piano virtuoso Henry Butler, and the boys and girl in Dumpstaphunk. All of em will make you wish you lived here and saw em more often.

Home Grown Up and Comers: I saw Mia Borders in a tiny club with a leaky roof on the lower east side last year and she was amazing. Probably got an awesome band with her, including NOLA saxman Khris Royal (who’s probably with George too), and her cover of Bill Wither‘s “Use Me” was just bananas last year.

2012 Fantasy Map

2012 Fantasy Map

Friday, May 4th

The One Woman Army, now with backup: Theresa Andersson is a tremendous singer, fiddle player, and all around musician. This year, she’s got a great krewe of musicians with her, including Hannah Krieger-Benson, a fantastic trumpet player and singer who’s doing her own stuff (Hannah KB Band) and some ska too (The Local Skank)

Pick your own Jazz Adventure:  Three amazing jazz sets happening right after Theresa, at the same time. I have no idea how I’ll do all three.  Big Chief Donald Harrison will be mixing his bebop and modern jazz skills with R&B and NOLA classics, ala the amazing cover of “Indian Red” he did for the Treme Season One Soundtrack.  Or, you can get your fill of low end saxophonics, with Roger Lewis (Dirty Dozen Brass Band) leading three Bari Saxes and a Bass Sax for Baritone Bliss (which was fantastic last year).  Or, you can see Preservation Hall trumpet man Mark Braud do his own thing in the Economy Hall tent.

Holy People: Bet on Mavis Staples, who was already among the top reasons we went with this weekend, to put on a ridiculous set at the gospel tent in honor of her friend (and ours), the late great Levon Helm.  I’m sure her set is going to be so great, I’ll probably miss Deacon John‘s killer cover of “Many Rivers to Cross” to get a spot. However, if I were you, I wouldn’t miss much else of his set.  Local music legend, a fantastic performer, a great singer, a helluva guitar player, just amazing stuff, see Deacon John.

Mahalia Jackson - Historic Jazz Fest Picture

Mahalia Jackson – Historic Jazz Fest Picture

Saturday May 5th

Family Preservation: Loads of famous families in the New Orleans tradition – on Saturday, the Brunious family represents in Economy Hall. A few hours before Mark Braud (nephew to the late John Brunious) takes the stage (and hopefully passes out some ice cream) with the
Preservation Hall Jazz Band, his other uncle (and brother to John) Wendell Brunious will step up to the stage- Wendell was on fire at BAM a couple weeks back, sitting in with Dr. John, so look for some tasty trumpet goodness all around.

Raisin’ Hell: Another scion of a famous musical family takes the Fais Do Do stage, Rockin Dopsie and his Zydeco Hellraisers.  I feel like a lot of my favorite Zydeco bands all seemed to be packed into first weekend, but Rockin Dopsie is a notable exception.

Local Greats to Look For: Anders Osborne is a beast on guitar, and his new album is a great mix of sweetness, of sadness, of blues and power.  Not sure who’s playing with them, but see it.  Paul Sanchez’s Rolling Road show is always packed with local stars, Joe Krown with Russell Batiste and Walter “Wolfman” Washington is a tight organ guitar drums trio that does it right. John Boutte‘s voice, which you may recognize from the theme song from Treme, is tremendous to hear in the Jazz Tent – he may spoil us with a great cover of Leonard Cohen‘s “Hallelujah”…if we’re lucky!

The Cafe du Monde stand between the Jazz and Blues tents, around 5:30pm.  Good time to hydrate and get some iced coffee.  Hard to see ending my Preservation Hall second line early, but gonna need to refuel. And what better place to do it? Herbie Hancock and his band in the Jazz Tent on your right, the Warren Haynes Band (with tinyrager.com faves Nigel Hall and Alecia Chakour, as well as Dr. John, playing out) on your left in the Blues Tent.

Jazzfest 1975 Historic Poster

Jazz Fest 1975 Historic Poster

Sunday, May 6th

Sunday is always the most packed day, the closing day of the festival.  Of course, I can tell you to park at Gentilly Stage all day, or don’t miss Galactic, but hopefully you already know.  Here are a few things you might not know about:

The Family that Prays Together: Remember that John Boutte guy from Saturday?  He’s bringin’ his whole family to the gospel tent. You should get there too.



Glen David Andrews: Cousin to Trombone Shorty and James Andrews, the fire-breathing trombone player’s got an incredible performance you don’t want to miss.  Why he’s not taking his rightful place closing down the Gospel tent is beyond me, but at least it makes the FOMS (Fear of Missing Something) to close the festival a bit easier.

Camping at the Jazz and Heritage Stage: I don’t know the higher heights, but every other group at the Jazz and Heritage stage is a smoker, starting with War Chief Juan, the TBC Brass Band, Los Hombres Calientes will be incredible (why not in the Jazz tent?), and

Big Chief Bo Dollis: It’s not clear if the Big Chief is going to make it, he’s fallen ill, so I expect the boys to rock it out hard for him even if he can’t make it.  Look for Brooklynite turned Orleanian Billy Iuso wrecking shop on guitar (if not here, with Anders on Saturday), he’s a force to be reckoned with.

Close out with the Hall: Okay, so you’ve got 8, count em, 8 amazing sets lined up to end your fest. My pick is Preservation Hall – they’re going to have a lot of friends on stage with them and it’s going to be a lot of fun.  Also, I have no idea why they put Sharon Jones in the Blues Tent when she’s going to want the crowd up and dancing.

The night shows are a whole other animal, coming for part 2…

Words by Guest Writer: Russ Agdern

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Billy Iuso and the Restless Natives @ Sullivan Hall (08.06.10)

Billy Iuso and the Restless Natives @ Sullivan Hall

Billy Iuso and the Restless Natives @ Sullivan Hall (Photo by Allison Murphy)

Billy Iuso and the Restless Natives

Billy Iuso – General Madness
Thomas McDonald – Bass, vocals
Mike Burkart– Keys, vocals
Spencer Raymond – Drums

Special Guest: Jaik Miller

Another night at Sullivan Hall.  A new night of music.  Tonight, I was prepared to check out Billy Iuso and The Restless Natives, who hit Manhattan hard, opening up for Eric Krasno’s Chapter 2.

I had heard good things about this New Orleans based rock/funk/jam band.  I was also excited to have the opportunity to check out one of the bands competing for a spot on Jam Cruise through the Vote to the Boat Competition taking place on Facebook. Finally, I had been slated to review the show for Jam Base but there seems to be some new motivations behind the Show Review section and so, here we are!

Before the show started, I was hanging out with some cats in the band before I even realized. “Hey Karen!” shouted  fellow New Yorker Spencer Raymond from across the street.  Spencer would be filling in on drums for Bryan Besse who was other wise engaged back in New Orleans.  He and I chatted for a while before I was introduced to Thomas McDonald, the bass-playing Native.  We raged together outside for a bit.  It came to my attention that this was the first time the drummer and the bass player had met, let alone played together.  We laughed about that and I immediately thought, “This is going to be interesting. I hope it sounds tight.” At some point I had ran into Billy Iuso himself, hugged it out and he thanked me for coming.  And then it was time for the boys to get to making some music.

Billy Iuso and the Restless Natives @ Sullivan Hall (Photo by Allison Murphy)

Billy Iuso and the Restless Natives @ Sullivan Hall (Photo by Allison Murphy)

Billy Iuso @ Sullivan Hall

Billy Iuso @ Sullivan Hall

Hitting the stage around 10:15 pm, Billy Iuso and his Restless Natives dove right.  Blending rock and funk with tons of energy and smiles.  Within minutes, the rock/funk hybrid of sound came out and the first song had Billy ripping his guitar across the stand of his microphone for effect, jumping, bouncing…energy.  New Orleans funky-rock. I am really starting to dig the rock-n-roll I am finding in New Orleans.  I am only just now discovering it.  Having just seen The Radiators for the first time a few weeks ago at Gathering of the Vibes, I have been researching more rock based bands out of NOLA.

The Natives brought some fun layers to their music by way of  Thomas McDonald skating over his bass solo during The Meter’s Love Slip Up On Ya.   Sporting a “WHO DAT” shirt, Tom thumped away on his bass proud and loud throughout the night.  As he counted off into Two Deep In Shallows, the energy just got higher with all the members coming together to form a cohesive little stage rage for the rest of their short set.

Mike Burkart @ Sullivan Hall

Mike Burkart @ Sullivan Hall

Mike Burkart stood out on the key for Oh, I See. Funky! Funky!  A strummy rocky number that also showcases Billy‘s skills.  They covered The Talking HeadsOnce in a Lifetime. It took me a minute to recognize the song.  But then it took me even longer to warm up to their styling of it. Perhaps is was how they slowed it down, perhaps the fact that it was missing a little something to give it that kick jump into rage town. Oh well…

Trippin Over Dragons had Billy inviting Jaik Mille to join the stage.  A trippy space jam infused with rock and just good feelings.  A great dancing song with funky keys and lyrics.  Billy’s singing voice was on point and smooth.  We got a fun keys solo from Mike Burkart towards the end of the song. But not before a jamming guitar solo from Billy.  I truly love his energy.  Not every guitar player can be the greatest player but every guitar player can be fun to watch if they feel their own music.  Billy is a great guitar player but he would get lost in his instrument and I loved seeing that in him.  I certainly am not the only one as they are currently third in line for Vote to the Boat.

Billy Iuso and the Restless Natives @ Sullivan Hall

Billy Iuso and the Restless Natives @ Sullivan Hall

I moved to the raised floor section, giving me more of a bird’s eye view of the stage.  I cheered with the rest of the crowd and began dancing as I heard the opening of Don’t Let Go.  Billy was paying homage to the death of Jerry Garcia and that alone garnered a star in my book.  I enjoyed the cover as I danced next to a happy adorable white-haired man who leans over to me and says:  THAT’S MY SON,” with a beaming proud face.    He pointed out  “This is my favorite song.”  Billy’s father and I danced side by side for the remainder of the song.  Such a proud father!

Billy Iuso and the Restless Natives @ Sullivan Hall (Photo by Allison Murphy)

Billy Iuso and the Restless Natives @ Sullivan Hall (Photo by Allison Murphy)

Later I would find out that Spencer and Billy were members of Brides of Jesus, a band created back in 1992 that has listed Ian Neville, Russle Batiste and other funky musicians as members.  Before this night, Spencer and Billy hadn’t played together in 15 years.  You know,  you never would have know it.  For not having rehearsed before the gig, it went beyond well. All in all it was a great night of funky NOLA rock.  Some good jams pulled out front and the spaces were filled with danceable notes from beginning to end.

I can’t tell you who I am going to vote for, but I can tell you with all certainty, that if Billy Iuso gets voted on the boat, he will deliver some good fun music.  And that is what it’s all about.   I looked forward to my second round of seeing them at Bear Creek Arts and Music Festival in the fall.

Set list!: Love Slip Up On Ya, Oh I See, Two Deep In Shallows, Trippin Over Dragons, Once In a Lifetime, Don’t Let Go, Big Chief

Special Thanks to http://www.ruthrocks.com/ for photography

Check out http://www.billyiuso.com/

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