Author Archives: Jay Mazza

Our Jazz Fest Picks for the First Weekend, 4/25 and 4/26

The two Saturdays at the Jazz Fest are the most popular days and the organizers capitalize on the fact by bringing in the most popular bands creating a schedule rivaling any festival in the world. Saturday, April 25 is no exception with The Who, John Legend, and Ryan Adams facing off against Kenny Garrett and Robert Cray on the biggest stages. And that’s not even mentioning the local acts. The full lineup is here.

One of the tricks to enjoying the most crowded days at Jazz Fest is to get there early so you beat the lines for food and everything else. Start your day with Tank and the Bangas. This young funky soul band from New Orleans has been getting a lot of well-deserved love from TVD. Check them out for yourself.

Get yourself over to the Congo Square stage for 12:30 PM for Tony Hall and the Soul Stars Tribute to James Brown. Hall, who currently plays bass, guitar, and sings in Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, has been leading this all-star tribute for the past eight years to celebrate the birthday of the Godfather of Soul.

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Our Jazz Fest Picks
for Day One, 4/24

The culmination of festival season is upon us! The ten-day run that is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The 2015 edition has something for everyone. Here are our picks for opening day at the New Orleans Fairgrounds. The full schedule is here.

Start your day off early with Earphunk. This jamming band from New Orleans tours extensively bringing sterling electric guitar work and occasionally goofy stage antics to crowds around the country. With two singers and two separate vocal styles, they bring to mind a funkier Grateful Dead complete with percolating organ work.

I have not seen Paul Sanchez’s new band Minimum Rage yet, but I love the name. He is also presenting special guests, the Write Brothers, during his set. This songwriting supergroup features Sanchez alongside Spencer Bohren, Alex McMurray, and Jim McCormick. Special insider’s note—the rhythm section for the Write Brothers is none other than Andre Bohren (Spencer’s son—but you knew that) on drums and Dave Pomerleau on bass. Those are two of the Dirty Notes!

Trumpeter Maurice Brown is in town to play with the Tedeshi Trucks Band today. He also will be appearing with his own band in the Jazz Tent at 1:30 PM. This is an addition to the original release of the cubes.

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TVD Recommends: The Suffers at the Maison, 4/17

The Maison on Frenchmen Street usually hosts local bands spanning the spectrum of musical stylings in New Orleans. But occasionally they book a touring band, and when they do, the band is generally worth checking out. This Friday night, Houston’s own The Suffers make a stop at the club performing at 10 PM.

The band, which formed in 2011, will remind listeners of some of the acts appearing on the Daptone label, particularly soul shouter Sharon Jones. Fronted by the dynamic singer Kam Franklin, The Suffers also includes a full horn section and a super tight rhythm section.

While Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings come across as pure retro soul, The Suffers add a bit of Latin spice courtesy of percussionist Jose “Chapy” Luna. While the two guitarists also provide a rock ‘n’ roll punch to the 10-piece ensemble’s sound.

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Our French Quarter Fest picks for Saturday and Sunday, 4/11 and 4/12

With twenty-three stages in action from 11 AM until 8:45 PM on Saturday and until 7 PM on Sunday, there is something for every music lover at the French Quarter Festival. There are also two club-affiliated stages, at the House of Blues and the Royal Sonesta, going even later. Here are our picks for the weekend. The full schedule is here.

The Roots of Music program has generated national attention while providing musical and life lessons to hundreds of New Orleans middle and high school students. Since the program’s inception, the music has just gotten better and better. The band kicks off the Abita stage on Saturday at 11 AM. If you have not seen these kids, do yourself a favor and check out the future of New Orleans music in action.

Indie rock bands don’t get a lot of love at the various festivals in New Orleans due to our focus on the culture and traditions of New Orleans. Last year, I saw the Honorable South at the Jazz Fest and was impressed by their attitude playing to a crowd with no idea who they were. I was also impressed with the music. Fronted by the vivacious and spellbinding rock ’n’ soul goddess, vocalist/ songwriter Charm Taylor (pictured at top), the group rocks out with melodic precision.

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Our French Quarter Fest picks for Friday, 4/10

The number of stages more than doubles from Thursday as the 2015 fest heats up before the official weekend. The footprint expands to Spanish Plaza for the new Outlets at Riverwalk stage, into the French Market, and around the Old U.S. Mint. Here are our picks. The full schedule is here.

Kick off your day with Marc Stone on the Riverfront Pavilion at 11 AM. Stone is an eclectic guitarist, bandleader, and hardcore musicologist (as well as WWOZ programmer) who mines a variety of styles falling under the catch-all genre, the blues. He always brings the best musicians to the stage casting a spell over audiences.

The New Orleans Klezmer Allstars are musicians from a variety of genres and musical influences coming together to play eastern European folk music with a very jazzy touch. They are veteran players that don’t play together often enough anymore.

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Our French Quarter Fest picks for Thursday, 4/9

For the fourth year in a row, TVD is proud to be a media sponsor of the biggest free festival in the south which has gotten even bigger this year with new stages including the Omni Royal Orleans stage at the 500 block of Royal Street. Here are our picks for the first day. The full schedule is here.

As usual, the day kicks off bright and early with a parade beginning in the 100 block of Bourbon Street at 10 AM. The Orleans Brass Band will lead revelers and dignitaries to Jackson Square where PresHall Brass will get the live music started at 11:15 AM.

The venerable institution has been branching out into many different directions, including some, which have brought out the “moldy figs,” but pleased more daring listeners. PresHall Brass should offend no one, as they are a brass band representing the great New Orleans traditions.

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TVD Recommends:
The Freret Street Festival, 4/4

“Winter” will make its last gasp in New Orleans overnight Friday as a “cold” front comes through. Saturday highs will make it into the low 70s. In other words, the Freret Street Festival will be the last fest without sweating a little until fall. Here’s a look at my highlights.

With three stages and music all day, including some buzz bands, the Freret Street Festival is growing right along with its namesake street. First up at 11 AM is Social Set. This new band features a compelling female/male dichotomous energy and plays rock with a funky indie bent. I have not seen them live yet, but expect them to begin making waves on the New Orleans scene.

On the other end of the career longevity spectrum are the Caesar Brothers who are returning to the Freret Street Festival at 12:05 PM. Led by Norman on keys and Rickey on drums, they are inheritors of the uptown funk of the Neville Brothers. The musicians have a decades-long track record including performing on one of the first brass band/hip hop hybrid albums in the 1990s with Jason Neville’s project, DEFF Generation.

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TVD Recommends: Papa Mali album release party at Chickie Wah Wah, 4/3

Papa Mali celebrates the release of his latest recording, Music Is Love this Friday at Chickie Wah Wah, with an all-star backing band featuring the musicians appearing on the album—Johnny Vidacovich (drums), Mike Dillon (vibraphone, tablas), Cassandra Faulconer (bass), Dave Easley (pedal steel), Josh Paxton (Hammond organ, piano, farfisa), and The Harmonaires (vocals).

Music Is Love was released on March 17, 2015 via 429 Records. The veteran guitarist and vocalist recorded at The Living Room in New Orleans with producer John Chelew (Blind Boys of Alabama, Vic Chesnutt, Richard Thompson, and John Hiatt). The album showcases his distinctive knack for blending elements of roots rock, R&B, blues, gospel, folk, and psychedelia.

With Music Is Love, Papa Mali continues to build on his standing as a distinctive artist within the Crescent City musical community. The album reflects his deep appreciation and respect for legendary artists such as Dr. John, The Meters, Lee Dorsey, Fats Domino, Johnny Adams and others.

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TVD Recommends: Mad Dogs & Englishmen, A New Orleans Tribute to Joe Cocker at One Eyed Jacks, 3/27

We’ve been losing the greats from the 1960s in droves lately. Joe Cocker left an indelible mark on the world of music due to his effervescent stage persona, gravelly vocals, and passionate performances. Amazingly, this legendary performer is not in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, yet his parody on Saturday Night Live—by none other than John Belushi—is one of the most famous sketches from the early years of the groundbreaking show .

This Friday night at One Eyed Jacks, an all-star group of New Orleans musicians will honor the man and celebrate his life and music by performing his epic 1970 live album, Mad Dogs and Englishmen, in its entirety. This tribute is taking place on the 45th anniversary of the Fillmore East concert.

Speculation abounds about why he has been snubbed by the secretive organization since first becoming eligible in 1994. Though he didn’t write his own material, his interpretations of classics from the era, now so in vogue on shows like American Idol, literally define the word. Don’t even get me started on his performance energy.

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The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival reveals full 2015 lineup and schedule

The lineup and schedule for the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is unveiled in a two-step process shrouded in mystery and secrecy. Earlier this year, the bands and performance days for each of the acts were announced. Today, at the annual “press party,” the times and stages were revealed.

The process is painstaking as the organizers seek to please the many and varied constituents as well as create a logical, well thought out continuum for each of the stages on each of the seven days.

This year, as it is every year, there will be some inevitable conflicts. But as Quint Davis, the fest’s producer/director pointed out, there are also some enviable matchups pairing “guest” artists with New Orleans and Louisiana talent.

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