Author Archives: Jay Mazza

Satchmo SummerFest moves to Jackson Square

The annual celebration of the life and music of Louis Armstrong has moved from it’s longtime home on the grounds of the old U.S. Mint to Jackson Square in the heart of the French Quarter. It’s scheduled for August 5-7, 2016. The Vinyl District is back as an official media sponsor of the festival for the sixth year in a row.

The festival continues to evolve as they have also added an indoor stage, which will be a welcome addition for dancers and music lovers eager to get out of the heat of early August in New Orleans.

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The new “Back o’ Town” stage will be located inside the Louisiana State Museum’s Arsenal, which is right off of Jackson Square at 600 St. Peter Street on the second floor. The “Back o’ Town” stage will feature a dance floor, NOLA Jitterbugs, and live dance music on Saturday and Sunday.

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Back to the Circus: Charlie Dennard and Friends bid adieu at Chickie Wah Wah, 6/24

Keyboardist Charlie Dennard is going back to the circus and he has invited a number of his musical friends to wish him bon voyage and jam out one last time on the Brazilian and soul jazz music that is his passion. The show is Friday night at Chickie Wah Wah.

Regular readers will remember when Dennard returned to New Orleans after over ten years on the road with Cirque Du Soleil. The homecoming was reported elsewhere as well and during his second tenure in the city he recorded two well-received albums and played a bunch of gigs.

But the circus has called him back, literally.

He will become musical director of the show Mystere in Las Vegas following the abrupt departure of the previous bandleader. For the show at Chickie Wah Wah, expect to see an all-star ensemble and some special guests as well. Dennard promises two keyboards will be set up to encourage the jam.

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Eric “Benny” Bloom to play Miles Davis at Chickie Wah Wah, 6/18

Iconic jazz musician Miles Davis has been in the news a lot lately. Miles Ahead, a biopic was released on the big screen starring and directed by Don Cheadle, keyboardist and composer Robert Glasper released an adventurous recording which featured samples of the great musician’s voice and music amid reimaginings of some of his best tunes, and recently there were celebrations around the globe on what would have been his ninetieth birthday. Local trumpeter Eric “Benny” Bloom gets on board Saturday night with a performance at Chickie Wah Wah.

Dubbed “Kind of Bloom,” the show will be the CWW debut of Bloom’s new jazz ensemble, the Melodies. The band features saxophonist Roderick Paulin, bassist Jason Stewart, and drummer Stephen Gordon.

Bloom is a versatile musician with a foot in virtually every genre. On the national scene, he is a member of the funk band Lettuce and the live electronica project Pretty Lights.

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Allen Toussaint’s final album, American Tunes, in stores today, 6/10

When the great New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint passed away unexpectedly on tour last year, the city mourned in an almost unprecedented way. It seemed nearly everyone had a story about the musical genius (mine is here); a dapper gentlemen who was simultaneously unknowable, yet supremely accessible.

His body of work was in many ways the same as his persona and it turned out he had new recording in the can, which sheds much light on him as a musician and a man. The posthumous release is out today under the direction of producer Joe Henry.

The album is called American Tunes and it comes across as a collection of songs that define a period in American history and a portrait of Toussaint’s influences. It is a solid recording with solo pieces and tunes with backing instrumentation and special guests that was recorded separately over two sessions.  It is not a final statement of a long career. Yet, it will be seen as such by many.

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Dave Jordan and the
NIA bring No Losers Tonight to the Maple Leaf Bar, 6/10

Friday night the place to be is at the Maple Leaf Bar in uptown New Orleans for a performance by Dave Jordan and the Neighborhood Improvement Association. This show is coming on the heels of a very successful Jazz Fest performance which found new and old fans dancing ecstatically on the small, grassy area in front of the Lagniappe stage.

Jordan’s new album, No Losers Tonight, is his first billed with the band, reflecting the fact that the ensemble has settled into a consistent lineup featuring Mike Doussan on electric guitar, Andre Bohren on drums, Will Repholz on bass, Chris Plyant on drums, and Harry Hardin on violin. Jordan plays acoustic guitar.

The album was produced by Jeff Watkins, currently the saxophonist with the New Orleans Suspects and James Brown’s last bandleader, and coproduced by Jordan and Doussan. Guitarist Joe Armitage and Doussan contributed to the songwriting. The leader stresses that it is, “very much a group record.”

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The Chris Robinson Brotherhood returns
to Tipitina’s, 6/9

PHOTO: JIM BROCK | Less than a year after playing another one of their epic, two-set shows, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood returns to Tipitina’s this Thursday night. They are touring in support of their fourth studio album, Anyway You Love, We Know How You Feel, which arrives in stores on July 29 on Robinson’s own Silver Arrow Records.

Robinson may best be known as a southern rocker from his work with the multiple-awarding winning band, the Black Crowes. But since relocating to California his music has veered more toward the loose, improvisational rock made famous by the Grateful Dead and other bands in the San Franciscan diaspora.

The new album was recorded on the side of a mountain overlooking the foggy Pacific Ocean in northern California. The group had spent the previous two years touring relentlessly and road-testing the new songs. The goal was to insure the band was in peak form in order to capture the music the way they sound in concert.

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Tipitina’s Foundation Free Fridays concert series returns this week

Summer in New Orleans has its advantages. This Friday, Tipitina’s will be opening their doors for free concerts on Friday nights until the first weekend in September. The concerts are part of the non-profit work that the foundation is known for around the state and the country including the Instruments’ A Comin’ benefit, which provides instruments to students, The TIPs intern program, and other projects.

The shows begin at 10 PM and Friday has a great lineup with Good Enough for Good Times and Stoop Kids. Good Enough is an offshoot project of Galactic band members drummer Stanton Moore (pictured at top) and bassist Robert Mercurio.

I saw Stoop Kids for the first time at the Freret Street Festival and this young band of Loyola music grads was entertaining and musically impressive.The series continues in June with the New Orleans Suspects and the Brint Anderson Duo next week and the Honey Island Swamp Band following.

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Colin Lake brings One Thing That’s For Sure to Chickie Wah Wah, 6/3

Singer/songwriter and ace guitarist Colin Lake returns to Chickie Wah Wah this Friday night for a performance with his band. The Seattle native moved to New Orleans over eight years ago and set about making a name for himself as a songwriter and guitarist.

His powerful vocal style and soulful touch on the guitar and lap steel owe heavily to countless blues greats, but it’s Lake’s knack for songcraft that sets him apart in that genre. Lake’s latest album, One Thing That’s For Sure, captures the songwriter’s unique musical vision, delivering penetrating lyrics with soul and gritty sincerity.

On the album’s eleven original songs, Lake sings of love and longing, truth and transcendence, hope and struggle. On songs like “I’m Trying to Tell You” and the heavily distorted “Pay the Price,” Lake sings in desperate pleas, reminiscent of a man fighting for his life, while in the chorus of the laid back title track and the sun-soaked refrain of “She’s Mine,” the singer swells with joy as he revels in the spoils of love.

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The New Soul Finders begin Mag’s 940 June residency, 6/1

Guitarist and bandleader Marc Stone has become a cottage industry in New Orleans by shining the spotlight back onto old school musicians of all stripes. Every Wednesday in June he is presenting a new version of the seminal New Orleans funk band, the Soul Finders featuring two of the original players at a new music venue on Elysian Fields Avenue.

The Soul Finders were one of many bands led by the late, great piano player/ singer/ songwriter Eddie Bo. Vocalist Marilyn Barbarin and bassist/ vocalist Paul Boudreaux were members of the group, along with another late, great New Orleans master, the drummer James Black.They cut masterpieces like “Hook and Sling,” “Can I Be Your Squeeze,” and “Reborn” on tiny labels like Seven B, Bo Sound, Scram, and Fire Ball in the 1960s. Both Barbarin and Boudreaux are part of the New Soul Finders.

The rest of the band features players who are acolytes of the sound and the musicians. Stone will be playing guitar. He served a very significant musical apprenticeship with Eddie Bo when he first relocated to New Orleans. Tom Worrell, a musical heir to the funky New Orleans piano sounds of the era, who also played with Bo, is on keys. The group is rounded out by drummer Eric Bolivar—a player with deep respect of for the traditions and culture of New Orleans.

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Shemekia Copeland brings Outskirts of Love to Chickie Wah Wah, 5/29

PHOTO: DOUG SEYMOUR | Blues vocalist Shemekia Copeland will grace the stage at Chickie Wah Wah on Sunday, May 29 at 8:30 PM. The three-time Grammy nominee is touring in support of her latest Grammy-nominated album, Outskirts of Love. Guitarist Mason Ruffner opens the show.

With a voice that is alternately sultry, assertive, and roaring, Copeland’s wide-open vision of contemporary blues, roots, and soul music showcases the evolution of a passionate artist with a modern musical and lyrical approach. Shemekia Copeland sounds like no one else whether she’s belting out a raucous blues-rocker, firing up a blistering soul-shouter, bringing the spirit to a gospel-fueled R&B rave-up, or digging deep down into a subtle, country-tinged ballad.

In 1998, Copeland burst on the scene at age 18 with her groundbreaking debut, Turn Up the Heat and instantly became a blues superstar. Her follow up, 2000’s Wicked earned Copeland her first Grammy nomination. News outlets across the world took notice as did major figures in the roots and blues worlds. New Orleans’ own Dr. John produced Talking to Strangers in 2002 and Steve Cropper of Booker T and the MGs and countless other projects produced The Soul Truth in 2005.

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