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Posts Tagged ‘New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival’

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.

Arieal

Arieal

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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FEEL THAT RAGE!!!! SEE THAT RAGE!!! Pic by Josh Raskin

FEEL THAT RAGE! SEE THAT RAGE! ~ Pic by Josh Raskin

Blast Off: Lettuce’s new material leaves Rage in the dust…

Eric Krasno – Guitar
Adam Deitch – Drums
Neal Evans – Organ/keys
E.D. Coomes – Bass
Adam “Shmeens” Smirnoff – Guitar
James Casey – Alto Sax
Ryan Zoidis – Tenor Sax
Eric Bloom – Trumpet
Rashawn Ross – Trumpet
Nigel Hall – vocals/keys
Mel Flannery – Vocals
Alicia Chakour – Vocals
Happy Holiday Rage! Pic: by Josh Raskin

Happy Holiday Rage! Pic by Josh Raskin

As the funk super group Lettuce began the familiar strains of Curtis Mayfield‘s “We’re a Winner,” which morphed, as it usually does, into Mayfield’s “Move on Up” to close out Wednesday Night’s Royal Family Holiday Party at the Brooklyn Bowl,  I couldn’t help but laugh because it was a perfect bookend to a new chapter in the life of this fantastic band. This dynamic tune, with Nigel Hall jumping up to deliver some soul shaking melodies on vocals, has been one of the band’s most consistent the last couple years, and it made me think about how far this band has come.

THE MAN! Pic: by Josh Raskin

THE MAN! Pic by Josh Raskin

Rewind three and a half years! I’ve returned home from my first New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and was itching for great live music to stem the withdrawal tide. I headed to the Bowery Ballroom to see this band I had skipped at Fest because I knew they were playing at home later…and I dug it.  Great band, busy, Rube Goldberg type funk (you know, lots of moving parts coming together to make awesome, think of the Charles Mingus track “Moanin'” and you’ll see what I mean), high energy, great musicians, even had this awesome dude come up and sing a few classics, including a great Curtis Mayfield cover.  Nice stuff, liked it a lot.  Snagged the new (at the time) album, Rage and really liked most of the tracks. It actually spent a lot of time in rotation in the car and the Ipod.

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Get Some Jesus ~ Pic: by Josh Raskin

Get Some Jesus ~ Pic by Josh Raskin

But here is the thing, if you don’t know the Lettuce story, then you don’t get the power of the whole picture.  Unlike bands who stay together and tour often like Galactic, the members of Lettuce only gather for small periods of time throughout the year. When you are Lettuce, you record a quick album, maybe you see each other a couple times a year for a few gigs, but that’s largely it, you’re not necessary wood-shedding together a whole lot.

Case in point: On archive.org, Lettuce has eight recorded sets in 2002, one recorded set in 2003, no recorded sets from 2004-2007.  None!  Then, moved by the passing of James Brown and J-Dilla, the fellas recorded Rage and started out on the road again in 2008. This is not to say these guys aren’t monster players on their own, because they are. But there’s a difference between rocking out with old friends and playing sets with increased regularity, rehearsing and getting into the groove, finding and exploring new places. You gotta know who else is there to really get there! That’s why I like seeing shows at the end of the long run instead of beginning, because players will have gotten a little more comfortable, a little more familiar, and will be able to stretch out. That’s the band we saw on Wednesday night.

James Casey and Ryan Zoidois kilin it! ~ Pic: by Josh Raskin

James Casey and Ryan Zoidois kilin it! ~ Pic by Josh Raskin

A couple Royal Family Ball throwdowns in New York and New Orleans, a Royal Family Ball tour, two Bowlive runs, the first ever Royal Family Affair (which I sadly missed), two Royal Family holiday concerts, Bear Creek Arts and Music Festival, Jam Cruise, prep for the CRAZY set with Dr. John and Maceo that kicked off this year… it’s been a big couple years for Lettuce.  Each performance felt a little stronger, a little tighter, a little more impressive.

With Nigel Hall and Alecia Chakour in the mix, Lettuce can grow to as many as twelve or thirteen folks on stage at a time, and making that sound tight ain’t easy. Some of the fellas putting down roots in Brooklyn really allowed for a base of operations for the group, particularly at the Brooklyn Bowl, and it shows.  Lettuce has done more gigging, rehearsal, and playing together than they have done in a while. As 2011 winds down, they’ve started dropping new tunes in shows, tunes that feel deeper and stronger than any of their previous material. Again, I dig Rage, a lot. However, this is no longer old friends putting together some real solid grooves and giving props to the giants who’s shoulders they stand on. Lettuce is now a fearsome unit ready to flex their own muscles.

Mel Flannery and Alicia Chakour ~ Pic by Josh Raskin
Mel Flannery and Alicia Chakour ~ Pic by Josh Raskin

The band is tight as hell.  Everybody sounds awesome. I was loving Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff leading a couple tunes and laying out a great solo.  Adam Deitch is locked in on the drum kit and he and E.D “Jesus” Coomes combine to make one killer rhythm section! The Shmeeans/Deitch beatboxing was HOT as well!  Eric Krasno keeps growing, which seems preposterous for someone as good as he is. Neal Evans always brings that extra something to kick the songs up (though as much as I love Neal, the clavinet was a little up in the mix, and I had to abandon my normal front right spot to make sure I could hear the horns).  And while Sam Kinninger was missed, the horns did sound awesome, with Ryan Zoidis leading the pack, Rashawn Ross and Eric Bloom on trumpet, and sentimental favorite James Casey (see: ridiculous solo on “Get Back” from Bowlive 1) on tenor.  In fact, due to Kinninger’s absence, Casey could be seen upstairs with headphones on learning Kinninger’s parts right up until the show began. True dedication! I would have loved for the band to give the horns some more spotlight. Either way, they were solid as always.  Vocalists Nigel Hall  impressed the most this night having grown so much as an artist and a dude in the last two years.  Alecia Chakour and Mel Flannery are also great additions to the krewe.

I’ve seen these musicians before, but not like this.  I kept turning to people and saying, “What?!” The new grooves are chest-thumping, gut-busting, smack the person next to you and say “Damn, that shit is dope!” kind of tracks. “If I Was Jack Spade That Would Be My Theme Music” kind of tracks. KILLIN!! I can’t say it any plainer than this: the new material Lettuce is playing is FIRE!  Nasty, literally jaw-dropping funk not to be messed with. Of the five or six songs I heard Wednesday night, four of them would be my favorite track on Rage! right now, and that’s an album I really like!

My advice to other amazing funk/soul/jam bands I know and love, especially when playing anywhere near Lettuce, STEP YA GAME UP!  2012 is a year of a lot of eagerly awaited album releases: Galactic, Antibalas, Soulive Karl Denson EP, even hip hop legends Black Star are getting into it.  But if Eric Coomes’ warning to me on my walk out of the Brooklyn Bowl holds true: “Dude. Wait till you hear the other shit, you don’t even know.” The best one of all could be coming from the Royal Family straight out of Brooklyn.

At last, that blessed day has come.

Set-List: Madison Square, Fast Kraz, Play, By Any Shmeeans Necessary, Last Suppit, Slow Zap, Mean Funk, Slippin’, Dilla, Let it Ride, Kings of the Bergs, GoGo and Makin’ My Way Back Home (w/ Nigel Hall), Blast Off

Words by Russ Agdern
Pictures by Josh Raskin
Video by Bill Giordano

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May 2011 Music Calendar

May 2011 Music Calendar

Calendar updated daily!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

  • ($20-$25) Bill Frisell Quartet featuring Ron Miles, Tony Scherr, Kenny Wolleson @ Village Vanguard

Monday, May 2, 2011

  • ($8) Jim Campilongo @ The Living Room
  • ($20) The Airborne Toxic Event @ Pianos
  • ($25) Mingus Big Band @ The Jazz Standard

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

  • (Free) Dred Scott Trio @ Rockwood Music Hall
  • ($24) The Airbourne Toxic Event @ The Mercury Lounge

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

  • (Free) Brooklyn Shakedown with Nutritious @ Bembe
  • ($24) The Airbourne Toxic Event @ The Bowery Ballroom
  • ($40-$133) Batiashvili, Bartók, and Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony @ Avery Fisher Hall

Thursday, May 5, 2011

  • New Orleans Jazz Festival, New Orleans, LA
  • (Free) Gent Treadly @ 11th Street Bar
  • (Free) Nir Felder Group (Mark Guiliana) @ 55 Bar
  • ($5) Sophistafunk @ Rockwood Music Hall
  • ($15) Jackie Greene @ Brooklyn Bowl
  • ($20-$25) The Airborne Toxic Event @ Webster Hall
  • ($40-$46) Bad Religion @ Terminal 5
  • ($65-$144) Gladys Knight @ Beacon Theater
  • ($1,500 – $5,000) Alan Gilbert Conducts 120th Anniversary Concert @ Carnegie Hall
    • Gala tickets include a seat at the concert and admission to a post-concert dinner-dance at The Plaza

Friday, May 6, 2011

  • New Orleans Jazz Festival, New Orleans, LA
  • (Free) Taurus (Mark Guiliana) @ Bowery Electric
  • ($10) The Mother Hips @ The Brooklyn Bowl
  • ($15 – $20) The Infamous String Dusters @ Bowery Ballroom
  • ($22) Reverend Horton Heat plus Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band @ The Bell House
  • ($24-$45) The Airborne Toxic Event @ Town Hall
  • ($25-$30) Minus The Bear @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
  • ($40-$46) Bad Religion @ Terminal 5
  • ($40-$127) Batiashvili, Bartók, and Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony @ Avery Fisher Hall

Saturday, May 7, 2011

  • New Orleans Jazz Festival, New Orleans, LA
  • ($22-$27) The NEW DEAL with special guests OTT & Sub Swara @ Terminal 5
  • ($43-$138) Batiashvili, Bartók, and Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony @ Avery Fisher Hall

Sunday, May 8, 2011

  • New Orleans Jazz Festival, New Orleans, LA
  • ($22) Reverend Horton Heat plus Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band @ Highline Ballroom
  • ($41-$46) Interpol / Blonde Redhead @Terminal 5

Monday, May 9, 2011

  • (Free) Now vs. Now (Mark Guiliana) @ Rockwood Music Hall
  • ($8) Jim Campilongo @ The Living Room
  • ($25) Mingus Big Band @ The Jazz Standard
  • ($1,500 – $5,000) James Taylor @ Carnegie Hall
    • Package A: Tickets are either $2,500 or $5,000 and include the exclusive After-Party and a seat in the Prime Parquet at the concert.
    • Package B: Tickets are $1,000 and include the pre-concert Cocktail Reception and a seat in the Parquet or Second Tier at the concert.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

  • (Free) Chris Morrissey Quintet @ Rockwood Music Hall
  • ($30-$40) Pharoah Sanders Quartet @ Birdland New York
  • ($32-$38) Raphael Saadiq @ Webster Hall
  • ($45-$65) Al Jarreau and the George Duke Trio @ The Blue Note
  • ($60-$159) Paul Simon @ The Beacon Theater

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

  • (Free) Brooklyn Shakedown with Nutritious @ Bembe
  • ($15) The Louis Armstrong Centennial Band @ Birdland NYC
  • ($45-$65) Al Jarreau and the George Duke Trio @ The Blue Note
  • ($55-$159) Paul Simon @ The Beacon Theater
  • ($50-$65) Blind Boys of Alabama @ City Winery

Thursday, May 12, 2011

  • (Free) Maceo Parker @Pier One ~ Brooklyn Bridge Park
  • ($15) Break Science @ Highline Ballroom
  • ($30-$40) Pharoah Sanders Quartet @ Birdland NYC
  • ($35-$40) Brenda Russell and the George Duke Trio @ The Blue Note
  • ($40-$64) Warren Haynes Band @ Beacon Theater
  • ($40-$87) A Celebration of Kate McGarrigle w/ Rufus Wainwright, Emmylou Harris & Martha Wainwright Town Hall

Friday, May 13, 2011

  • (Free) Meshell Ndegeocello @ Gatehouse Restaurant and Bar, Brooklyn
  • ($12) Wyllys @ Sullivan Hall
  • ($30) Deftones @ Best Buy Theater
  • ($30) The Mahavishnu Project plays the music of Jeff Beck @ Iridium Jazz Club
  • ($30-$40) Pharoah Sanders Quartet @ Birdland NYC
  • ($35-$40) Brenda Russell and the George Duke Trio @ The Blue Note
  • ($40-$55) Allen Toussaint @ City Winery
  • ($40-$87) A Celebration of Kate McGarrigle w/ Rufus Wainwright, Emmylou Harris & Martha Wainwright Town Hall

Saturday, May 14, 2011

  • (Free) The Prigs @ Rockwood Music Hall
  • (Free) Meshell Ndegeocello @ Gatehouse Restaurant and Bar, Brooklyn
  • (Free) Red Baraat for the Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concert Series @ The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
  • ($24-$29) Crash Test Dummies with Rob Morsberger @ City Winery
  • ($30) Deftones @ Best Buy Theater
  • ($30-$40) Pharoah Sanders Quartet @ Birdland NYC
  • ($45-$65) Al Jarreau and the George Duke Trio @ The Blue Note
  • ($80-$130) David Crosby & Graham Nash @ Town Hall

Sunday, May 15, 2011

  • (Free) Red Barraat for Celebrate Brooklyn! at Brooklyn Bridge Park @ Celebrate Brooklyn Dance Party
  • ($30) Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra @ Birdland NYC
  • ($35-$55) Taylor Hicks @ City Winery
  • ($45-$65) Al Jarreau and the George Duke Trio @ The Blue Note
  • ($45-$75) Marcus Miller Presents: A Concert for Japanese Tsunami Relief  @ Highline Ballroom
    • Featuring Raheem Devaughn, Robert Glasper, Sean Jones, Angelique Kidjo, Gregoire Maret, Raul Midon,Q-Tip, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Kaoru Watanabe, Louis Cato, Alex Han, Federico Gonzalez Pena, Vince Wilburn, Wallace Roney and more TBA!

Monday, May 16, 2011

  • ($8) Jim Campilongo @ The Living Room
  • ($24-30) Rusted Root @ Bowery Ballroom
  • ($25) Mingus Big Band @ The Jazz Standard

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

  • ($20) Rusted Root’s Adam Ezra Group @ Brooklyn Bowl
  • ($30-$35) Lykke Li @ Webster Hall
  • ($35-$60) Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers w/ Henry Butler @ Highline Ballroom

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

  • (Free) Brooklyn Shakedown with Nutritious @ Bembe
  • ($20) Felice Brothers @ The Bell House
  • ($25) Maceo Parker @ S.O.B.’s
  • ($30-$35) Lykke Li @ Webster Hall
  • ($35-$40) En Vouge @ B.B. Kings
  • ($35-$60) Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers w/ Eric Lindell (Album Release) @ Highline Ballroom

Thursday, May 19, 2011

  • ($15-$20) Lo, Aaron, Dan and Jon of God Street Wine @ Joe’s Pub
  • (Free) Nir Felder Group (Mark Guiliana) @ 55 Bar
  • ($10) Fundimensionals @ Sullivan Hall
  • ($18-22) New Riders of the Purple Sage @ B.B. Kings
  • ($20) The Felice Brothers @ The Bell House
  • ($20) Reflection @ Rocks Off Cruise (The Halfmoon)
  • ($25-$31) Brett Dennen @ Webster Hall
  • ($35-$80) Adele @ Beacon Theater

Friday, May 20, 2011

  • ($20-$25) Bill Frisell Quartet featuring Ron Miles, Tony Scherr, Kenny Wolleson @ Village Vanguard
  • ($25) John Mayall @ B.B. Kings Blues Club
  • ($25) Murder By Death @ Rocks Off River Cruise

Saturday, May 21, 2011

  • ($12) Garage A Trois @ Brooklyn Bowl
  • ($20-$25) Bill Frisell Quartet featuring Ron Miles, Tony Scherr, Kenny Wolleson @ Village Vanguard
  • ($50-$77) Adele @ United Palace Theater
  • ($55-$75)  Johnny Mathis @ Lehman Arts Center, Bronx
  • ($55-$65) Esperanza Spalding @ Town Hall

Sunday, May 22, 2011

  • (???) Mark Guiliana @ 55 Bar
  • ($10-$15) A Soulful N’awlins Sunday Brunch w/ Brother Joscephus & The Love Revival Revolution Orchestra @ Le Poisson Rouge
  • ($20-$25) Bill Frisell Quartet featuring Ron Miles, Tony Scherr, Kenny Wolleson @ Village Vanguard
  • ($30) Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra @ Birdland NYC
  • ($50-$107) Elvis Costello and The Imposters – The Revolver Tour @ Beacon Theater

Monday, May 23, 2011

  • ($8) Jim Campilongo @ The Living Room
  • ($20-$25) Bill Frisell Quartet featuring Ron Miles, Tony Scherr, Kenny Wolleson @ Village Vanguard
  • ($25) Mingus Big Band @ The Jazz Standard
  • ($50-$107) Elvis Costello and The Imposters – The Revolver Tour @ Beacon Theater

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

  • (Free) Dred Scott Trio @ Rockwood Music Hall
  • ($7) Richie Goods and Nuclear Fusion @ Local 269
  • ($20-$25) Bill Frisell Quartet featuring Ron Miles, Tony Scherr, Kenny Wolleson @ Village Vanguard
  • ($20-$100) Club d’Elf & John Medeski @ Brooklyn Bowl
  • ($25-$30) Panic At The Disco @ Terminal 5
  • ($30-$40) Kenny Barron Quartet with Terrance Blanchard @ Birdland NYC
  • ($30-$45) Stanley Clarke @ The Blue Note
  • ($35-$41) Artic Monkeys @ Rumsey Playfield, Central Park
  • ($40-$115) Bettye LaVette @ Cafe Carlyle
  • ($50-$107) Elvis Costello and The Imposters – The Revolver Tour @ Beacon Theater

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

  • (Free) Brooklyn Shakedown with Nutritious @ Bembe
  • ($10) Gent Treadly, Willie Waldman Project, DJ Logic @ Sullivan Hall
  • ($15) Kenny Barron Quartet with The Louis Armstrong Centennial Band @ Birdland NYC
  • ($20-$25) Bill Frisell Quartet featuring Ron Miles, Tony Scherr, Kenny Wolleson @ Village Vanguard
  • ($30-$45) Stanley Clarke @ The Blue Note
  • ($40-$115) Bettye LaVette @ Cafe Carlyle
  • ($52-$65) The Cars @ Roseland Ballroom

Thursday, May 26, 2011

  • (Free) Celebrate Brooklyn! at Brooklyn Bridge Park @ Celebrate Brooklyn Dance Party @ Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn, NY
    • Red Baraat and many more…
  • (Free) Tall, Tall Trees @ Rockwood Music Hall
  • ($30-$40) Kenny Barron Quartet with Terrance Blanchard @ Birdland NYC
  • ($30-$45) Stanley Clarke @ The Blue Note
  • ($40-$115) Bettye LaVette @ Cafe Carlyle

Friday, May 27, 2011

  • ($15) Joe Krown Trio feat. Walter “Wolfman” Washington & Russell Batiste followed by MiloZ @ Sullivan Hall
  • ($20-$25) Steve Kuhn (solo piano) & The Daniel Bennett Group @ The Triad Theater
  • ($25) The Birdland Big Band directed by Tommy Igoe @ Birdland NYC
  • ($30-$45) Stanley Clarke @ The Blue Note
  • ($40-$115) Bettye LaVette @ Cafe Carlyle
  • ($50-$200) Wavy Gravy’s 75th Birthday!
    • Jackson Browne, Ani DiFranco, Steve Earle, Allison Moorer, Dr. John, Bruce Hornsby, Jorma Kaukonen, Steve Kimock, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Wavy Gravy

Saturday, May 28, 2011

  • ($20) Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars @ The Bell House
  • ($25-$28) David Johansen (Of the New York Dolls) @ City Winery
  • ($30-$45) Stanley Clarke @ The Blue Note

Sunday, May 29, 2011

  • ($18) Slick Rick @ B.B. Kings Blues Club
  • ($23-$28) Bob Schneider @ Bowery Ballroom
  • ($25) The Birdland Jazz Quartet @ Birdland NYC
  • ($30) Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra @ Birdland NYC
  • ($30-$45) Stanley Clarke @ The Blue Note
  • ($40-$115) Bettye LaVette @ Cafe Carlyle

Monday, May 30, 2011

  • ($8) Jim Campilongo @ The Living Room
  • ($20-$25) Bill Frisell Quartet featuring Ron Miles, Tony Scherr, Kenny Wolleson @ Village Vanguard
  • ($25) Mingus Big Band @ The Jazz Standard
  • ($30-$45) Stanley Clarke @ The Blue Note
  • ($40-$115) Bettye LaVette @ Cafe Carlyle

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

  • (Free) Ray LaMontagne, Brandi Carlile, The Secret Sisters @ Central Park’s Summer Stage
  • (Free) Dred Scott Trio @ Rockwood Music Hall
  • ($15) 7 Walkers featuring Bill Kreutzmann of Grateful Dead, Kirk Joseph of Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Papa Mali and Matt Hubbard, Jason Crosby and Dark Loft @ Brooklyn Bowl
  • ($30-$45) Stanley Clarke @ The Blue Note
  • ($37.50) George Clinton & The Parliament-Funkadelic All-Stars @ B.B. Kings
  • ($40-$115) Bettye LaVette @ Cafe Carlyle

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The 2010 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival:

An “Easy D” Perspective: Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mike "Easy D" Deasy

Mike "Easy D" Deasy

(Read Easy D’s “Prologue” here)

(Read Easy D’s “Wednesday, April 28, 2010” here)

(Read Easy D’s “Thursday, April 29, 2010” here)

(Read Easy D’s “Friday, April 30, 2010” here)

Moving slow this morning.  Quick check of the weather forecast reveals no change.   Total cloud cover, breezy, chance of rain.  This is great.  No need to continuously apply SPF 30!  Time to get on the school bus!  Unfortunately, we missed the first period of classes.  However, we arrive in time to catch the end of the Henry Butler & the Game Band set at the Gentilly stage.  This band had much more of a gospel feel than New Orleans Social Club showcasing Henry Butler’s great voice as well as his piano playing prowess.

Henry Butler @ Jazz Fest 2010

Henry Butler @ Jazz Fest 2010

We were focused.  It was time to hoof it over quickly to the Acura stage for Anders Osborne.  During the trek,we loved listening to snippets of Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band at the Fais Do Do stage and Rebirth Brass Band at Congo Square.

Rebirth Brass Band @ Jazz Fest 2010

Rebirth Brass Band @ Jazz Fest 2010

Saturday at Jazz Fest gets extremely crowded.  It’s good to have a strategy so that you can enjoy viewing the performers without having to battle the crowds.  This is especially true as one gets older and perhaps less slim (like me).  Over the last couple of years, our Krewe has adopted the following strategy for the Acura stage once the crowds build: position ourselves in front of the big screen to the left of the stage near the Grand Marshall entrance.  This is where we went next.

As with the jazzfest set last year, Anders Osborne played with the Stanton Moore Trio.  What a powerful group!

Anders Osborne – Guitar and Vocals

Stanton Moore –  Drums

Robert Walter – Organ

Will Bernard – Guitar

Anders Osborne @ Jazz Fest 2010

Anders Osborne @ Jazz Fest 2010

It has been a year since I have seen Anders Osborne live, but I have been following his career closely and could not help but notice that his appearance has taken a turn to say the least.  When viewed on the big screen, Anders’ appearance is, how can I say this tactfully, even more disconcerting.

Anders Osbourne @ Jazz Fet 2010
Anders Osbourne @ Jazz Fet 2010

However, there was nothing disconcerting about the performance or the great songs from Anders’ brand new album American Patchwork.  Most notable was the killer tune ‘On the Road to Charlie Parker’ as well as another gem ‘Acapulco’.  During the set, Anders thanked the Stanton Moore Trio for helping to ‘get my shit together.’  It’s easy to see why with such great collaborators providing the right mood for Anders’ introspective lyrics.

Anders Osbourne @ Jazz Fet 2010

Anders Osbourne @ Jazz Fet 2010

Later in the set, Anders brought another collaborator, guitarist Pepper Keenan (Corrosion of Conformity, Down) for a couple of tunes, including the haunting dual lead guitar laced ‘Darkness at the Bottom’.

Pepper Keenan w/ Anders Osborne & the Stanton Moore Trio @ Jazz Fest 2010

Pepper Keenan w/ Anders Osborne & the Stanton Moore Trio @ Jazz Fest 2010

Afterwards, Anders quipped about starting a ZZ Top cover band with Pepper.  I found Anders set to be quite powerful and emotional, certainly destined to be one of my highlights of Jazzfest 2010.  Anders is currently touring with the Trio on the west coast promoting the new album.  Go see them if you can!

After that set, I was spent.  Seems like just the right time to head to the Blues tent and grab a seat for Chris Thomas King.  You may remember Chris from his co-starring role in the Coen Brothers film O Brother Where Art Thou.  I learned several years ago that Chris is a great singer and delta blues guitarist when I caught him at a blues festival in Wheeling, WV.  His Jazz Fest set featured Chris playing mostly acoustic instruments with a couple of tunes on electric.  My guitar playing buddy was impressed.

Chris Thomas King @ Jazz Fest 2010

Chris Thomas King @ Jazz Fest 2010

Crawfish Strudel

Crawfish Strudel

Time for some food!  I was ‘beered out’ by Saturday, decided I should look for a different beverage.  I selected the Rosemint Iced Tea (unsweetened).  Delicious.  At this point I was looking for something I had not tried for and saw a sign for something called a Crawfish Strudel.  Hmmm.  Better check that out.  What I saw was a small rectangular flaky bread loaf with a slit through the top stuffed with a soupy concoction with chunks of crawfish.  Kinda like a small bread bowl, if you will, but very delicate.  A very nice surprise!  While I was working through the food lines, I could see the big Acura screen between the booths.  I noticed that Irma Thomas was sitting in with Galactic!  I guess I picked the wrong time to get hungry!

Band of Horses @ Jazz Fest 2010

Band of Horses @ Jazz Fest 2010

By this time, our dogs were barking (it’s hell growing old), so we worked our way over to the Fais Do Do stage.  Got there in time to see BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet finish their set.  Excellent.  Most of my Krewe ended up randomly gathering as the Honey Island Swamp Band set up for their set.  One brought a chair and set it up toward the back of the crowd.  Some friends and I parked on the bleachers to the left of the stage.  Some were in the standing area in front of the stage.  It’s great to have a group split during a day at the fest then randomly meet near the end of the day.  Some of my group reported that the Band of Horses set at Gentilly was killer.  Others reported that Galactic had many special guests throughout their set, not just Irma.

Then the Honey Island Swamp Band tore into their set.  The Honey Island Swamp Band is:

Chris Mulé – guitar, vocals

Aaron Wilkinson – mandolin, guitar,harmonica, vocals

Sam Price – bass, vocals

Garland Paul – drums, vocals

Honey Island Swamp Band @ Jazz Fest 2010

Honey Island Swamp Band @ Jazz Fest 2010

I have been following Chris Mulé and Aaron Wilkinson for years, since their days as part of Eric Lindell’s band.  Both are great players and singers.  In addition to the band, the stage was filled with a keyboard player, backing vocalists, and a horn section, quite a departure from the spare traveling band I saw just a few weeks ago at a small club in my hometown.  But what a dancin’ party it was at Fais Do Do!

I knew that the crowds for Pearl Jam at Acura would be impossible.  I made the decision long before coming to New Orleans that I would end Saturday at the Gentilly stage for guitar god Jeff Beck.  It has been about a decade since I last saw Mr. Beck.   I am happy to report that he is getting better with age if that is possible.  His very tight band consisted of a phenomenal female bass player and singer, drummer, and a keyboardist.  Most tunes were instrumentals, but hey, that’s OK, Jeff makes the guitar sing like no one can.  Also, gotta love a guy that is comfortable in his wardrobe.  Great ending to yet another great day.  Heavy clouds, no rain!  I like this trend!

Jeff Beck @ Jazz Fest 2010

Jeff Beck @ Jazz Fest 2010

Saturday Night, 5/1

Some of our Krewe were talking about going to see Anders Osborne and the Stanton Moore Trio again at The Rock ‘N’ Bowl on Saturday night.  I wasn’t wild about going to the same venue two nights in a row and I wasn’t wild about seeing Anders again on the same day after that draining (in a good way) set at the fairgrounds.  Last year, I did not make it to the Frenchman Street area in Marigny, an area just east of the French Quarter.  Frenchman Street is a street lined with music clubs and restaurants that is more of a scene, hip, vibrant, bohemian, you name it area than the much more touristy Bourbon Street.

Soulive @ Jazz Fest 2010

Soulive @ Jazz Fest 2010

We decided to go see Soulive at The Blue Nile.  Upon arriving on the scene, the streets and sidewalks are literally jammed with people.  Most I have ever seen on Frenchman Street.  When we approach The Blue Nile, we land in a block long admission line.  We finally make it in to the club just before the show starts.  There was a large deep crowd of people in front of the stage.  We positioned ourselves just to the right of the stage.  While not the best vantage point, at least we can clearly see the keys.

Soulive @ Jazz Fest 2010

Soulive @ Jazz Fest 2010

Soulive is Eric Krasno (guitar), Alan Evans (drums) and his brother Neal Evans (keyboards).  What a pleasure to see this band in such a small venue!  I have always loved Kras’ guitar playing, but from our vantage point, we had a bird’s eye view of Neal’s thumping left hand bass line playing coupled with his right hand organ playing.  How does he do that?

Soulive @ Jazzfest 2010

Soulive @ Jazzfest 2010

As the set progressed, the crowd got much larger and our bird’s eye view became less ideal.  There was nowhere to move or breathe for that matter, so we moved a little further back.  By this time, Nigel Hall joined the band to sing a few tunes, some of which were James Brown-like.  At least we had a little more space to shake our bones!   Several minutes later, the long set ended.  Terrific performance!  We decided to get some air and check out the street scene.

Across the street in front of the now closed Café Brasil, there was a blues band (electric) playing.  What fun!  Not 30 feet from the blues band, a brass band was holding court in the middle of the intersection.  All the while, people were stopping to listen, dancing, and strolling by.  We continued walking up the street taking in all of the sights and sounds.  Most of us decided that we weren’t going to fight the crowds and return to the Blue Nile for the 2nd set.  The one guy that did stay behind later reported that the second set was all Beatles tunes. RUBBER SOULIVE! Darn!

There were no cabs to be had on Frenchman Street, so we decided a stroll through the neighborhoods was in order.  It was a very pleasant evening and the walk did us good.  Once we were back in the French Quarter, we happened to stroll by the Co Co Club on Bourbon Street and saw the most excellent blind blues guitarist, Bryan Lee, playing.  What a bonus!  Even though there was no cover and we could have gone inside, we had a great view of Bryan and the sound was great out on the street.  We paused for about 10 minutes enjoying the band.

What a great night!  And back to the hotel just before 2:00?  I love it!

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The 41st New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival:

A Russ Agdern Perspective: Thursday, April 29, 2010

(The Fairgrounds Reopen, Marisa Arrives, Let’s Zydeco!)

Mr. Russ Agdern

Mr. Russ Agdern

(Read Russ’s “Wednesday, April 28, 2010″ here)

Cake Cafe (Photo by Bryna Stiefel)

Cake Cafe (Photo by Bryna Stiefel)

So after a five hour sleep, I shower, get dressed, catch up with my buddy for a minute, then it’s off to the Cake Café for a croissant and up the Fairgrounds for Day 1.  It’s a little overcast, the perfect kind of Fest day, not too hot and sunny.  Text my folks to let em know I’m on my way.  Stop to buy water from the same lady I buy water from outside the fest every year, grab my cubes (slang, term to describe Jazz Fest schedule) and tell the nice lady hanging out to remember me and not be surprised when I sweat through them and come back every day.  Get my stuff searched, my ticket scanned, and wow, I’m in.  HAPPY JAZZFEST!

Fais DO DO Stage (Photo by allentomdude)

Fais DO DO Stage (Photo by allentomdude)

For those who don’t know about Jazz Fest, there are three stages you always need to make time to check out: the Gospel Tent, the Jazz and Heritage Stage, and the Fais Do-Do (pronounced Fay doughdough) Stage.  Just do it; make the time.  Because at each of those spaces, there’s a really good chance you’ll hear someone you’ve never heard of before making incredible music.

McMain High School Gospel Choir

McMain High School Gospel Choir

I learned this lesson really well in 2008 and I try to stick to it, so seeing as it’s the first venue on the way in, I grab a seat in the Gospel Tent to check out the McMain High School Gospel Choir.  Local high school, apparently, I know nothing about them and sit down.  WOW.  Amazing!  Unbelievable voices, poise, energy, showmanship.  Just incredible!  All kinds of soloists started doing amazing things, and their band, comprised of high school musicians, was incredibly tight!  Texted my wife that the choir was so good I was thinking about converting, and the Gospel tent is so good it wasn’t the first or last time I’ve made that joke.

Kirk Joseph (Photo By Jeff Dupuis)

Kirk Joseph (Photo By Jeff Dupuis)

While there, I figured out roughly how my day was going to go, then made my way over to LB and her Krewe of folks at the fairgrounds.  LB  is a Jazzfest vet, having been many times, and I had the pleasure of bonding with her about Jazzfest at a Big Sam show last year, so we’ve been hitting great funk shows together since then.  Her Krewe had a nice spot by the Acura (main 1) stage, and I went to check out Kirk Joseph’s Backyard Groove.  Kirk Joseph is the original sousaphone player of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and is credited by many with taking Sousaphone playing into the realm of replacing an electric bass in a funk band.  This style of Sousaphone playing, taken up by others like “Tuba Phil” Frazier of the Rebirth Brass Band, has become the standard for many Brass Bands around the world, and Joseph was one of the innovators, so I wanted to see what his new band was putting down.  Nice lineup, multiple horns including what looked like a baritone horn (smaller version of a regular tuba), keys, guitar, and a couple of singers.  Doing a nice mix of funky stuff, flirtatious titles (don’t let me have a taste if I don’t get to have the whole thing), and stuff with a message about living together.

Prejean's pheasant, quail and andouille gumbo (Photo by Prejean's Restaurant)

Prejean's pheasant, quail and andouille gumbo (Photo by Prejean's Restaurant)

Speaking of tastes, it wouldn’t be Fest without the food!  Went off to get my first tastes of Fest, including the Pheasant, Quail and Andouie Gumbo from Prejeans that I look forward to every year, as well as the stuffed mushrooms that are just delicious.  And the nice folks at Prejeans gave me a FREE BOWL!  After I stopped to take a sip, I groaned at how good the stuff is.  One of the folks behind the table asked me why I stopped, I told her it tasted just like I remembered it did last year, and she handed me another bowl without waiting.  Awesome!  Some to share with LB’s buddies of the Superchill Krewe.  Yeah you right!

Dumpstaphunk (Photo by Jason Moran)

Dumpstaphunk (Photo by Jason Moran)

Nothing else grabbed my fancy, so I decided to stay put at Acura and give Dumpstaphunk a real chance.  I always kind of a weird feeling about them-  I feel about musical families the way I feel about royal families- having the name doesn’t impress me, you have to bring it.  Being Art Neville’s nephew and playing keys made me a little wary- I’m a huge devotee of Poppa Funk, and didn’t want to see someone up there just b/c of the name.  But Ivan really brought it on keys and with some great energy on vocals as well.  By the second tune, “Turn This Thing Around” which was talking about helping folks that need a hand, I was really digging the groove.  In some ways, Dumpstaphunk reminded me of a mix between the tight funk of the Meters and the cosmic slop of P-Funk.  Nasty grooves and a good message?  Sign me up.  Ivan and the whole crew were serious business, and I’m sorry I ever had a thought that he wasn’t earning it, because Ivan is a monster on them keys.

Walter Payton with Snapbeans & Gumbo Filé

Walter Payton with Snapbeans & Gumbo Filé

But as the crew was rampaging through “Put it in the Dumpsta” I checked the time and realized it was time to see an old friend.  Walter Payton, Jazz Bassist extraordinaire, music education giant of New Orleans, father of trumpet star Nicholas Payton, and longtime stalwart of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, was playing with his group, Snap Ppeas and Gumbo File, at the Economy Hall Tent.  The Economy Hall tent is one of three Jazz stages at Jazzfest, the stage representing traditional, New Orleans Jazz.  I had the pleasure of making friends with Walter on my first trip to New Orleans in 1999, and always try to get out and see him at Fest.  This was especially important this year as he had a stroke at the beginning of the year, so I really wanted to see him.  And it was tough. The musicianship was great, he had some tremendous folks playing with him, including guitar wizard June Yamagishi (from Papa Grows Funk, among other things) and a couple great singers and dancers.  But he wasn’t nearly as gregarious as previous years, one could tell he wasn’t quite recovered from the stroke and it made me quite sad.  When I spoke with one of the staff of Preservation Hall about Walter on Monday, she and I both started to tear up as she talked to me about him not wanting to slow down, wanting to keep going and pushing himself a little too hard to get back.  I made her promise to tell him I send my best and she did.  It’s a sad thing to see good people not quite at their best.  Here’s hoping for a continued speedy recovery, Walter.  The music world, and really the whole world needs you better.  Readers, if you’re not sure you agree, check out this great video of Walter singing the Louis Armstrong classic, “Shimmy Like My Sister Kate”

Mardi Gras Indian (Photo by Mica Lawson)

Mardi Gras Indian (Photo by Mica Lawson)

Having a bit of time to kill before Dr. Klaw, my next must see, I headed over to catch Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes and the Louisiana Sunspots over at the Congo Square stage.  On the way, I got caught in some second line fun with some Mardi Gras Indians and the Paulin Brothers Brass Band.  Oh yeah, if ten stages of unbelievable music isn’t enough for you, there are often Brass Bands and Mardi Gras Indians parading through the fairgrounds at random times.

Paulin Brothers Brass Band (Photo by Maitri)

Paulin Brothers Brass Band (Photo by Maitri)

So after waving around a napkin and shaking it with the Paulin Brothers Brass Band, who were just great, went off to see Sunpie.  Sunpie is impressive, multi instrumentalist, great singer, and a big presence.  He apparently used to play football, he’s a tall dude.  He’s also all over the place, playing WWOZ’s piano night, playing with his own band, later on that weekend with the Mardi Gras Indians Orchestra, and on the awesome new Ensemble Fatien disc.  I was looking forward to catching him and the Sunspots later that night at the Mid City Lanes annual Legends of Zydeco show, but wanted to catch a peek now.  He didn’t disappoint, romping through Louis Jordan’s “Choo Choo Ch’boogie” and a couple others before I danced my way back to the Jazz and Heritage Stage for Dr. Klaw.  Some really great accordion work, and that band is awful tight.

Alright Dr. Klaw!  Dr. Klaw is one of these bands that only exists in a few places like Jazz Fest and Jam Cruise, a mutant mash up of Chapter 2, represented by Eric Krasno on guitar and some vocals, Adam Deitch on drums, and Nigel Hall on Keys and vocals, and Dumpstaphunk, represented by Nick Daniels on bass and lead vocals and Ian Neville on guitar.  It was kinda weird to see a guitar based band at the Jazz and Heritage stage, but I didn’t mind it.  These guys were fantastic- Nick Daniels syncing up with Adam Deitch for some sick grooves, Eric Krasno letting it out and singing it out a lil bit, and Nigel laying down some tasty stuff on the keys.  Ian was good too, but seemed content to let Kras take the lead.  Ivan Neville was on the side of the stage most of the set, grooving and possibly chomping at the bit to get in the mix, but didn’t end up stepping in.  My personal highlight was Nick Daniels and Nigel Hall sharing vocals on a tasty as hell version of “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder.  It’s only halfway through Day 1 at the Fairgrounds, and I already got a “best covers of 2010” list brewing in my head.  The fellas headed into Nigel Hall’s “Leave Me Alone” but not being in the mood to hear that particular track, I bounded towards the track side of the Congo Square stage to get a good spot for the Soul Rebels Brass Band.

Soul Rebel Brass Band

Soul Rebel Brass Band

The Soul Rebels are one of New Orleans’ many great second generation Brass Band outfits.  I say second generation because you have older guard groups like the Treme Brass Band, the Paulin Brothers, and then, starting with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and of course, the mighty Rebirth Brass Band, you have a second wave of brass bands that combine the traditional music with Funk, R&B, Rock, and Hip Hop to make more contemporary flavored music.  The Soul Rebels have been around at least sixteen or seventeen years.  I got down with their groove for a bit before chatting a little with some folks that were set up near me, including a woman who asked me if I spoke Hebrew (in Hebrew).  Ah, the surprises of wearing a Hebrew letter Yankees hat to Jazz Fest.  She let me know there were actually a lot of Yids and Israelis at Jazz Fest, and that I should look out for the Krewe at, what else, the Israeli flag by Acura.

Someone bumps into me and it’s KD! KD is the person that finally went to Fest in 2007 and inspired me to get off my tuchus and go there, and she’s just good people.  Starting last year, she’s been “living the dream” and spending 12 days in New Orleans for Fest.  We catch up, she tells me where she’s been, who she’s been seeing and how she’s doing.  We both grumble at the mediocre hip hop stuff that’s entered the Soul Rebels set.  I’m sorry y’all, I’m from New York and I take Hip Hop seriously, so I’m kinda tough on folks dropping random things in.  Y’all wouldn’t like it if Talib Kweli picked up a saxophone and started half ass-ing “Do Whatcha Wanna” either.  Glad to see KD but feeling like a different energy, we hug and part ways, and I head back to the Jazz and Heritage stage to catch 101 Runners.

101 Runner (Photo by Kaarin Tisue)

101 Runner (Photo by Kaarin Tisue)

MAN!  What a difference!  These guys are pouring it out there, goin nuts over “Shallow Water” and whipping the crowd into a frenzy.  I have to say, watching people discover this stage is a favorite of mine.  People don’t know what to make of the Mardi Gras Indians groups but they get into them pretty quickly with their incredibly funky grooves and their catchy call and response melodies.  Perfect.  Off to snag a Loretta’s Praline and get a decent spot for Elvis Costello at the Gentilly Stage.  Well, I didn’t head over soon enough, because I can hear strains of a killer version of “Hey, You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” wafting skyward as I approach.  The lawn is packed, no good spot for me.  I unfold the chair and grab a seat.

Elvis Costello @ Jazzfest 2010

Elvis Costello @ Jazzfest 2010

He’s performing some great stuff, and the local crowd has some real love for him as he’s been around the city post federal flood.  Does a few more great tunes I don’t know (I must confess to not knowing his catalog super well) and it’s great stuff… but for some reason, my soul is not there.  This is one thing that’s difficult to manage about Jazzfest- restless ears.  There’s so much good stuff happening at any one moment that it’s tough to stay in one place if you’re not feeling it.  So even though this was my first time seeing Elvis Costello, and even though he was great, and even though my friends reading this will probably smack me for saying this… I left Gentilly to end my day at another tent.

On my way to the main gate, I passed the Economy Hall tent, where there was a great tribute to Louis Prima happening, as part of the celebration of his 100th birthday.  One of Prima’s guitar players, Bobby Lonero, was leading a great band in a set of Prima classics.  Who could go wrong?  Great mash up of When You’re Smiling into Oh Marie, and then, when they asked the crowd for a request, everyone yelled for Just a Gigolo.  For those who don’t know, the David Lee Roth version was ripped off essentially note for note from Louis Prima’s arrangement.  Don’t believe me? Check this out:

John Popper @ Jazz Fet 2010

John Popper @ Jazz Fet 2010

Except Roth, the nice Jewish boy, leaves off my favorite part, when Prima is saying nobody/no one in multiple languages, including Yiddish at the end.  In any case, the band is doing a fantastic version of it, and while I know they’re doing a tribute, it’s putting a big smile on my face.  After they finish it, the band starts into “I’m Leaving You” Prima’s last song before he went into a coma and later passed, and not in a place to be down, I head towards the Blues tent where John Popper and the gents from Blues Traveler are closing out the day.  The harmonica work is great, and they launch into a great version of Sublime’s “What I Got” which is a great way to end the first day at the fairgrounds.  But, as you know from the previous post, this is not the end of the action, but merely half time, as it’s only 7pm and there will be music happening until sunrise tonight!

Upperline, NOLA

Upperline, NOLA

On the long walk to my rental car, I realize this is the only day I’ll be able to hit Upperline, an insanely delicious restaurant hidden between the garden district and the Tulane campus.  Not wanting to wait another year to have their insanely good Roast Duck with Garlic Port sauce, on a whim, I call to see if they have room for one.  If I can get there by 8pm, there’s a small table I can sneak into for an hour.  PERFECT!

The Monsters of Zydeco (nb, Mid City, y’all should really call it that next year) doesn’t start till 9ish, M’s flight lands at 10, delicious dinner, half hour of music, get M, 4 more hours of music.  Done!  I fly across town and, using my handy map (remember those, people? Who needs a GPS when you can read a freaking map!?!), and in 25 minutes, I go from Fairgrounds traffic to Upperline deliciousness.  As I sit down and order, I notice an African American gentleman heading towards the… holy crap, it’s DIESEL!  Karl Denson is playing a late show at Tipitina’s with his solo band, the Tiny Universe, and he apparently made time for one of New Orleans’ best restaurants as well. Yep, 2 out of 2 funky sax players agree, Upperline is the place to be.  I tuck in to my roast duck with praline pecan yams and, MAN, I am a happy camper.  Except when I look at my phone and find out that M’s flight, after first text that they were boarded and ready to go, is delayed.  NO!  Just so y’all know, M is my wife of 2 years, and one of the first things we’ve bonded over is Zydeco music.  Since the inception of the Monsters of Zydeco show in 08, I’ve been dying for her to get to Fest in time to see this show.  Sated and pleased with the meal but grumpy about the news, I make my way to Mid City Lanes.

Night Show review: Legends of Zydeco, Mid City Lanes, Thursday, 4/29.

Rock'N'Bowl, NOLA

Rock'N'Bowl, NOLA

I’ve been to the first two Monsters of Zydeco shows, and it’s pretty much all you could ask for in an all star show.  Four or Five of the very best artists in a style of music, playing full hour plus sets with their bands AND everyone is sitting in with each other as well.  Imagine four of your favorite rock bands getting together and doing something like that.  Awesome, right?  Except, this ACTUALLY happens at Rock’N’Bowl each year, unlike the all star concert in your head.

This show, as it was the last two years, is an absolute blast.  When you have Buckwheat Zydeco, CJ Chenier, Sunpie Barnes, Nathan Williams of Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas, and old school Zydeco legend Clayton Sampy rocking out together, with zydeco and blues guitar master L’il Buck Sinegal leading the band, you know it’s gonna be a good party.  Sunpie was serving as the MC of the evening and doing a great job introducing everyone.  It seems that in Zydeco, there’s a lot of love to go around with all the musicians involved, and it certainly comes to the forefront on a night like this.

This year, while players were moving in and out, it was mostly Buckwheat’s band that formed a house band, with L’il Buck at the helm, and man, were they on it.  The people were on it, too, as the floor filled up with swingers and two steppers the second Sampy got it started.  I’ve been in Pantera and Primus mosh pits, and I can tell you it gets a little dangerous on the dance floor at Zydeco night at the Rock’N’Bowl.  Sampy played some great French language old school classics and the people were really feeling it.

Next up, Nathan Williams took a turn and he mixed a little more English into the songs and things got a bit more contemporary, there was the start of the mix of classic Zydeco and R&B, with Nathan leading the band in a rousing cover of “Hey Hey Hey Hey!” Nathan also put on quite a show, getting down on his knees at the front of the stage (he came right over to me several times, which was awesome) and hopping off the stage to play in the crowd.  Want some Zydeco..take a listen…

CJ Chenier

CJ Chenier

The sets were a good hour or so, and the set breaks were pretty short as they kept rotating in players.  Next up was Sunpie, and I was psyched to see the man take a turn- he got a serious groove going the dance floor was a frenzy!  Too bad I wasn’t getting to frenzy, thanks to the fools that delayed M’s flight… but wait, the phone’s ringing!  Hooray! M’s landed, and after Sunpie’s second song ends, I sprint to the car to go get her.  She hops in and we drive right back to the show as quick as possible.  We missed the end of Sunpie’s set, but CJ Chenier is getting started, and man, that guy can play. But hell, they all can play.  And while the other leaders/bands are coming on, everyone else stays and listens, and takes their cher out on the dance floor.  M and I would bump into CJ later on the floor during Buckwheat’s set.  CJ is going bananas, as is the band and the rest of the place.  CJ plays a good hour, dropping Hot Tamale Baby on us, and M and I twirl around the dance floor while trying not to get elbowed or body checked by another dancing couple.

Buckwheat Zydeco

Buckwheat Zydeco

We hit the set break, grab a drink, sit by an empty bowling alley and relax for a minute.  I find out that M is a complete trooper, having been up till 2 packing, gotten up at 6 and is still standing now and waiting for Buckwheat to come out.  What can I say, the girl loves her some Zydeco.  And Buckwheat didn’t disappoint.  We were especially psyched to cheer when the introduction of Buckwheat was no longer just about his Grammy nominations, but as a Grammy Winner!  Buckwheat burns immediately into “Whatcha Gonna Do?” and the place is going crazy.  CJ is dancing with someone and has a huge grin on his face.  Sunpie is out dancing too.  It’s fantastic- everyone is dancing, smiling and having a ball.  It’s Jazz Fest.  As the show winds down to a close, John Blanchard, Mid City Lanes Owner, asks everyone to clear a path, and one of the bartenders does ten or so back flips in a row!  Insane!  As the band is packing up, Sunpie decides we haven’t gotten enough, so he gives us a little Lagniappe (something extra) by firing up his accordion and singing some more.  CJ Chenier sits down at the organ to join him but for the first couple of minutes there’s no power, which Sunpie found out the hard way when he said “you got it, CJ” to give him a solo, and CJ yells (no mic, but audibly) “got what, I ain’t got nothin!” but finally the power gets back on and a washboard player jumps on stage, and they gave us another half hour of music!

Again, this is exactly what you want your All Star shows to be like- everyone doin their own thing and also doing it together.  For nearly six hours.  Yeah You Right!

I drove us back to our buddy’s spot, quieted the very energetic dog and helped M into bed.  After considering joining LB at Tips for KDTU’s show, I decided Fest is a marathon and I have many late nights still to go, so I climbed into bed with my baby at 3am instead of going back out- though not before predicting to LB that Robert Walter would sit in with KDTU that night and asking her not to tell me about it till the next day.  With my sweetie in town, and her fam due in the next day, and the alarm clock going off in 6.5 hours, Friday is going to be a fun day…

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The 2010 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival:

An “Easy D” Perspective: Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mike "Easy D" Deasy

Mike "Easy D" Deasy

(Read Easy D’s “Prologue” here)

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.

Chickie Wah Wah

Chickie Wah Wah

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.

Maple Leaf Bar Stage

Maple Leaf Bar Stage

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.

John Gros of Papa Grows Funk at the Maple Leaf

John Gros of Papa Grows Funk at the Maple Leaf

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:

John ‘Papa’ Gros (Papa Grows Funk) – Keyboards and Vocals

June Yamagishi (Papa Grows Funk) – Guitar

Brian Stoltz (Brian Stoltz Band formerly of Porter Batiste & Stoltz and others) – Guitar and Vocals

Tony Hall (Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk) – Bass and Vocals

Raymond Weber (Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk) – Drums and Vocals

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!

~Continue to the Thursday installment of Easy D’s Jazz Fest 2010 adventure~

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The 2010 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival:

An “Easy D” Perspective: Friday, April 30, 2010

Mike "Easy D" Deasy

Mike "Easy D" Deasy

(Read Easy D’s “Prologue” here)

(Read Easy D’s “Wednesday, April 28, 2010” here)

(Read Easy D’s “Thursday, April 29, 2010” here)

Canal Street (Photo by Jon Weber)

Canal Street (Photo by Jon Weber)

Although I was extremely well rested from the mega-sleep Thursday night, I did not make it out to the fairgrounds early.  We waited while one of our Krewe finally made it to the hotel after a very bad Air Tran experience.  Hey, more time to party…works for me!

Photo by Lynn Lesh

Photo by Lynn Lesh

The weather forecast for the rest of the weekend was cloudy, windy, with the chance of rain getting worse as the weekend wore on.  The storm that ravaged Nashville, Tennesse and many other places looked like it would stay north of New Orleans; Sunday might be the worst rain day.  We made allowances for the weather by throwing raincoats and ponchos into a backpack.

The Chateau Bourbon Hotel portion of my Krewe turned me on to the school bus shuttle to the Fest.  For a $17 round trip, you get door to door service to the fest in an air-conditioned school bus.  It was like being in the HOV lane!  So much better than taking a taxi.  Take note you future festers!

Photo by Derek B.

Big Chief Victor Harris the 2nd Friday @ Jazz Fest, Jazz & Heritage Stage (Photo by Derek B.)

Once out to the fairgrounds, we paused at the Jazz & Heritage stage for the Fi Yi Yi & the Mandingo Warriors.  Not the best of Indian shows.  We didn’t stay long since we were on our way to Gentilly stage anyway for the subdudes.

The Subdudes (Photo by Adam McCullough)

The Subdudes' John Magnie (Photo by Adam McCullough)

The subdudes are a great roots rock band that has been around on and off since 1987.  They are known for their sparse instrumentation with a strong emphasis on songwriting and vocal harmonies.  The current lineup consists of:

Tommy Malone – lead vocals, electric and acoustic guitars

John Magnie –  vocals, organ, keyboards, accordion

Steve Amedée – vocals, tambourine, drums, percussion, electric mandolin

Tim Cook – harmony vocals, bass, percussion

Jimmy Messa – bass, guitar, vocals

Look for a club show action shots of the subdudes in a future installment.  The dudes set was excellent, left me wanting more…I knew I would see them again soon…

Steve Riley And The Mamou Playboy (Photo by Tamara Grayson)

Steve Riley And The Mamou Playboy (Photo by Tamara Grayson)

Next up: A stroll by the Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do Do stage for Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, a great Cajun band.  This is an act I have been meaning to check out for years. A special treat: three trombonists from Bonerama joined the stage during their performance!

Steve Riley’s 2008 performance at Jazz Fest earned him a Grammy Award nomination. Though he lost out to Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience Band, Riley is a musician worthy of local support and national acclaim. Zydeco music is mostly heard a little further west, but Jazz Fest is a great opportunity to check out some great local music. ~The Daily Reveille~

The Trio (Photo by David Grunfeld)

The Trio (Photo by David Grunfeld)

Time for some food!  I chose another one of my all time favorites.  My friends and I call it the Trio, but it is identified as a platter.  The Trio consists of Alligator Pie, a large Shrimp Stuffed with Crabmeat, and Fried Green Tomatoes.  Mmmm…and all for $10.

Next up: The set that I have been looking forward to for weeks: The New Orleans Social Club in the Blues tent.  This is an all-star band consisting of:

Ivan Neville (Dumpstaphunk) – Keyboards and Vocals

Henry Butler – Piano and Vocals

George Porter, Jr. (The Meters, etc) – Bass and Vocals

Leo Nocentelli (The Meters) – Guitar and Vocals

Raymond Weber (Dumpstaphunk) – Drums and Vocals

At the fairgrounds, in the below video, the New Orleans Social Club burns through the end of the Wild Tchopitoulas classic “Indian Red.”


If you ever get a chance to see Henry Butler perform, I urge not to walk, but run to see him.  He is a national treasure.  To give you an idea, check out this video about the recording of Honeybee for Papa Mali’s Do Your Thing album:

There was no reason to leave the Blues tent since The Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Band were up next.   This husband and wife team were excellent as usual.  The band also included a couple of Burbridges:  Oteil, the bassist from The Allman Brothers Band and Kofi, keys, flute, etc. from The Derek Trucks Band.

It was very hot and extremely humid in the tent so my gang moved on.  Earlier in the day, we received word that Aretha Franklin had canceled for some undisclosed diva reason.  Late replacement:  Earth, Wind and Fire at the Acura stage!  Very nice!  After a couple of sexy soulful  tunes, my Krewe (of guys) all started looking at each other kinda funny.  We realized that we better head for the school bus and head back to the French Quarter.  A very nice day indeed.  And the weather held up!!!

Earth, Wind and Fire @ Jazz Fest 2010

Earth, Wind and Fire @ Jazz Fest 2010

Friday Evening at the Rock ‘N’ Bowl

Rock 'N' Bowl

Rock 'N' Bowl

There were lots of great music choices for Friday night club shows.  I really wanted to see 7 Walkers featuring Papa Mali and Bill Kreutzman.  They were playing a theater show opening for Gov’t Mule as well as a later show at Mardi Gras World. When I’m in New Orleans, I much prefer to go to the clubs instead of a theater.  There are so many fun clubs in New Orleans in so many different neighborhoods.  Much of the time, magical things happen when musicians go from club to club to sit in on other artist’s sets.

John Mooney at the Rock 'N' Bowl

John Mooney at the Rock 'N' Bowl

We decided to go to The Rock ‘N’ Bowl, a great music venue and bowling alley in the Mid City neighborhood.   A couple of years ago, The Rock ‘N’ Bowl moved from one location to more spacious quarters on Carrollton Ave.  The new place is much nicer for music, much more spacious and comfortable.  The lineup for the evening:  John Mooney and Bluesiana, Sonny Landreth, and Bonerama.

John Mooney is a delta, swamp, slide, Louisiana blues guitarist and singer who has called New Orleans home since 1976.  John’s trio put on a great performance while enduring the chatter that opening acts inevitably have to deal with.

Sonny Landreth @ Jazzfest 2010

Sonny Landreth @ Jazzfest 2010

Next up Lafayette Louisiana’s own Sonny Landreth, another Louisiana slide master.  I am a longtime fan of Sonny.  How big a fan?  My 12 year old Nissan Sentra sports a Sonny Landreth bumper sticker that reads ‘My Other Car is a Zydecoldsmobile’ which references Sonny’s rockin’ tune USS Zydecoldsmobile.  Sonny has a long career of collaborations with the likes of John Hiatt and the Goners (along with Sonny’s bassist David Ranson), Bonnie Raitt, Buckwheat Zydeco, Jimmy Buffett, and many others.

Grant Street Album

Grant Street Album

For this show, Sonny had his usual power trio setup with David Ranson on bass, and a drummer du jour.  Tunes in the set included Native Stepson, Port of Calling, All About You, and USS Zydecoldsmobile.  To get a sense of Sonny live, I recommend Sonny’s Grant Street live album.

Bonerama:

Lastly we all had to get ‘boned’.   Bonerama is a rock band fronted by several trombones/horns.   In addition to playing killer covers, Bonerama featured three songs in the set from their excellent recently released Hard Times EP.   Later in the show, the Bones brought up to the stage guitarist Jimmy Robinson (Woodenhead, Twangorama) for the end of the set and the encore.  Bones and guitar for Whipping Post and War Pigs!  Yeah you right!

Bonerama set list:

Bayou Betty
Cabbage Alley
Lost My House
The Ocean
Hard Times
I Got Loaded
Close The Door
Whipping Post *
Folly *

Encore: War Pigs *

Note: * w/ Jimmy Robinson on Guitar

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