Author Archives: Jay Mazza

Shamarr Allen’s new release, #NoFilter drops as free download‏

Trumpeter, vocalist, and songwriter Shamarr Allen has released the latest project with this band, the Underdawgs, as a mixtape which is available for streaming or as a free download.

The twelve tracks feature all of the hallmarks of Allen’s sound. Though known throughout the early part of his career as a brass band trumpeter, including a tenure with the Rebirth Brass Band, he has developed into a formidable bandleader, rapper, and songwriter.

The Underdawgs’ music walks the line between various genres and comes across as a funky rock band with tinges of hip hop, reggae, and jazz. There are elements of soul and R&B as well. He even sings in a falsetto on “Got Me Like.” “Jazz Resuscitation (Dub Step)” and “Blue Orleans” have some really strong trumpet work.

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Kids on Bridges release “When the Needle Drops” EP today, 5/18

TVD New Orleans’ favorite British EDM act, Kids on Bridges have been lighting up the charts across the pond. This band played in New Orleans so long ago the genre “electronic dance music” hadn’t even gone mainstream yet.

The EP, released on Wall of Sound, includes remixes from West London Deep, Lisbon Kid , Drrty Data, and a cover of Mansun’s “Negative” as well as the band’s original version featuring Shea Seger from their Top 30 U.K. album, Kidology.

Consistent with Kids on Bridges two previous singles, “When The Needle Drops” is profoundly honest, looking at the modern culture of style over substance within the arts.

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10th annual Mid City Bayou Boogaloo opens today, 5/15

What started in the dregs of the federal flood on Memorial Day weekend in 2006, is now an eagerly anticipated annual event on our festival calendar. The Bayou Boogaloo has grown to three days and begins this evening with a slightly smaller lineup than the full days on Saturday and Sunday. Here’s what I am looking forward to each day. The full schedule is here.

Dave Jordan and the Neighborhood Improvement Association kick off at 5 PM on the Orleans Avenue stage. Jordan’s outfit is sounding better every time I hear them. His world-weary voice always seems on the verge of cracking creating a sense of musical immediacy. He always surrounds himself with top-notch players.

Saturday afternoon, Pirate’s Choice hits on the Dumaine St. stage at 2:15 PM. This group blew my mind when I saw them at the Maple Leaf Bar a month or so back. Imagine African instrumentation, including a kora, hand percussion, and a stinging lead guitar, backed up with a super funky New Orleans rhythm section and you get just a bit of the idea. This band has to be heard.

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TVD Recommends: Chris Mulé release party at Chickie Wah Wah, 5/15


The longtime guitarist and songwriter with the Honey Island Swamp Band will be celebrating the release of his long-awaited and latest solo album at Chickie Wah Wah on Friday night. Renshaw Davies opens.

Down To the Bottom, which was produced by Anders Osborne, features all new songs from the pen of Mulé including two co-writes. “Demonized” was written with his partner in the HISB, Aaron Wilkinson, and “Devil’s Den” was written with bluesman John Mooney.

The album is mostly acoustic with only three songs that even have a drummer. Carlo Nuccio bangs the skins on all three of the uptempo tunes and trombonist Greg Hicks (Bonerama), trumpeter Mark Levron (The Upstarts, Davis), and Brad Walker (Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes) play on two of the three. The horns sound great in the context of Mule’s songwriting giving the songs a Muscle Shoals-style, R&B edge.

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TVD Recommends: Steelism at Chickie
Wah Wah, 5/14

Chickie Wah Wah is the place to be on Thursday night to hear one of the most innovative and interesting bands to hit New Orleans in a long while. Steelism is an instrumental band out of Nashville, Tennessee led by guitarist Jeremy Fetzer and pedal steel player Spencer Cullum.

The band is relatively young and this is only their second time performing in New Orleans, but their first in a nightclub. Last October, they appeared at the Louisiana Music Factory.

At that performance, I was struck by the way Fetzer, on a telecaster, musically interacted with Cullum on his pedal steel. They perform music inspired by the instrumental sounds of the 1960s—bands like the Ventures and Booker T. and the M.G.’s. There is also an element of spaghetti western soundtrack sounds, especially when the pedal steel gets downright spooky.

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TVD Live: Meschiya
Lake and Earphunk at Lafayette Square, 5/6

PHOTOS: DENNIS McDONOUGH | The weather was as inviting as the previous week, yet somehow the crowds were extremely thin at Lafayette Square Wednesday evening for the weekly concert series, Wednesdays at the Square, presented by the Young Leadership Council. Could it have been the inevitable Jazz Fest hangover? The looks on their sun-darkened faces and the heaviness of their steps suggested some of the crowd might still be recovering.

When vocalist Meschiya Lake and her ace band, the Little Big Horns, hit the stage just after 5 PM there was just a smattering of folks on their feet. But as the group dug into their performance, perhaps mustering a bit of their own post-Jazz Fest energy, a few hardy souls began grooving to the music.

Lake is best known for playing trad jazz standards for a jitterbugging dance audience. But I spotted just one couple cutting the rug. The set list reflected the setting. She aced the jump blues classic, “Chick’s Too Young To Fry.” Jimmy Soul’s 1963 R&B hit, “ If You Want to Be Happy” got a Caribbean-inflected reggae beat complete with a great trombone solo from Charlie Halloran.

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TVD Live: The 2015
New Orleans Jazz
and Heritage Festival,
4/30 and 5/1-3

PHOTOS: “BATON ROUGE” BILL BOELENS | The deluge ended on Monday after seemingly weeks of rain in the Crescent City and by the time the gates to the Jazz Fest opened on Thursday, April 30, the Fairgrounds had mostly dried out. This year’s festival featured the most crowded day ever, numerous special musical guests and several tributes to the dearly departed. Here’s a look back at some highlights.

Big Chief Bo Dollis has been honored numerous times in various ways since his death earlier this year. But nothing says “legend” like than having your sculptural image join the likes of Professor Longhair on the proscenium of one of the stages of the Jazz Fest.

The image at top shows the beautiful sculpture—a permanent tribute above the Jazz and Heritage stage. A close look at its detail reveals the beads and stones gracing many a Mardi Gras Indian suit inlaid on the carving.

One of the many treats at the Jazz Fest is the “stumble.” Literally discovering a new act because you happened to walk by. On Thursday we easily fell into the Latin rhythms of Grupo Sensacion and their vivacious lead singer (pictured).

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Our Jazz Fest Picks for the Second Weekend,
5/2 and 5/3

We are in the home stretch. Since Jazz Fest doesn’t release daily attendance numbers, it will be all about perception as to whether this Saturday, with headliner Elton John, ends up being more crowded than last Saturday with The Who. Here are our picks for the second weekend. The full Saturday lineup is here.

As with last Saturday getting an early start is imperative to minimizing your time waiting in various lines. Start your day with saxophonist Khris Royal and Dark Matter. He plays with George Porter, Jr. and lots of other bands. Dark Matter is a genre-defying act that can play virtually any style. Since they are opening the day on Congo Square, I would expect the sound to be more funk than jazz.

Helen Gillet has a long time slot beginning at 12:45 PM on the Lagniappe stage. Considering how wide her musical interests are, from French vocal music to avant-garde cello stylings, lots of time is nothing but a good thing. Last year, her set was positively mesmerizing as she looped her own vocals and cello and created something unique.

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Our Jazz Fest Picks for the Second Friday, 5/1

By the second Friday, the old saying, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” makes all the sense in the world. If you’ve been going to the Jazz Fest every day, and going out at night, now is the time to start pacing. The full schedule is here.

The Honorable South made quite a debut last year at the fest and they have been keeping up quite a schedule. I saw the young indie band at the French Quarter Festival and was impressed by how much they have improved in just under a year. The musicians were tighter and the lead singer, Charm Taylor, was much more poised on stage as she charmed a crowd new to their music.

The Panorama Jazz Band never ceases to amaze with their joie de vivre and musicality. Seeing them outside on the intimate Jazz and Heritage stage should be a real treat. Get ready to boogie because they play music from all over the world and it’s all very danceable.

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Our Jazz Fest Picks for Thursday, 4/30

Longtime festers refer to the only Thursday on the Jazz Fest schedule as “Slacker’s Day.” It’s also Kids’ Day so expect to see lots of New Orleans public school children and their smiling faces if you get there early in the day. The full lineup is here.

The Acura stage is strong with jam bands all day culminating in another appearance by Widespread Panic. The opening act, TAUK, is one I had to look up to find out what they are all about. They are a hard charging, instrumental four-piece that will definitely wake the neighborhood with their prog rock fusion sound. Check ‘em out below.

For something decidedly different and fresh, head over to the Jazz Tent for Trumpet Mafia. This new band is led by Ashlin Parker and has seven, count them, seven trumpeters. They have been making waves on the Frenchmen Street scene. Read More »

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