Author Archives: Jay Mazza

Mikayla Braun and Kathryn Rose Wood celebrate new albums
at Gasa Gasa, 10/8

Two of New Orleans most prominent young singer/songwriters are joining forces on Sunday at Gasa Gasa to showcase their latest recordings. Mikayla Braun and Kathryn Rose Wood will both perform their new releases in their entirety. They also promise musical surprises and special guests to “round out the party.”

Mikayla Braun may be best known around town as the lead vocalist of the Crooked Vines. Her EP, “Synapse,” features music she wrote and recorded since moving to New Orleans five years ago. Kathryn Rose Wood is celebrating the release of her debut solo album, In The Ashes. She formerly performed with her band Social Set and was co-lead vocalist for Gravy Flavored Kisses.

In addition to performing with the Crooked Vines, Braun, who plays ukulele and piano, also fronts her own quartet. Her new EP mines the experiences the young singer has had since relocating and becoming part of the fertile live music scene in New Orleans. The EP arrives in stores nationally on October 10.

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Interactivo Esencial brings its global rhythms to the New Orleans Jazz Market, 10/5

The fine folks at the CubaNOLA Arts Collective are known for solidifying the centuries-old connections between New Orleans and Cuba. They regularly bring great Cuban musicians to New Orleans and Thursday night is no exception when Interactivo Esencial comes to the New Orleans Jazz Market.

The band scheduled to perform features founding members of Interactivo—a Cuban jazz collective that features a revolving cast of all-star Cuban musicians who explore a wide range of styles while ignoring musical boundaries. Interactivo concerts have been described as “the ultimate house-party jam session.” Telmary, the female Cuban rapper who blew away the Jazz Fest this past spring, is a member of the collective.

Jazz pianist Robertico Carcassés (pictured at top) leads Interactivo Esencial along with founding members Julito Padrón on trumpet and vocals and vocalist and dancer Francis del Río. The three musicians are arriving direct from Cuba and will be joined by Miami-based collaborators Néstor del Prado on bass and Reinier Guerra on drums. (Editor’s note: William Vivanco was added to the show after press time).

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Thee Commons bring Paleta Sonora to Gasa Gasa, 10/3

Cumbia began as a style of music on the Caribbean coasts of Latin America. Since then the genre has expanded to other parts of the world and integrated other influences. The latest buzz band on the scene in Los Angeles is Thee Commons and they describe their hybrid as psychedelic cumbia-punk. They play at Gasa Gasa on Tuesday night.

Singing in both Spanish and English, the group takes the dance beats associated with cumbia and marries them to the raucous energy and irreverent lyrics of punk. Their live shows have garnered critical raves since the band began playing their high-energy sets in 2012.

Chris Ziegler, founder of LA Record, wrote about Thee Commons, “Live, they’re fearless, confident, and ready to go off-script at a moment’s inspiration. It’s wild stuff, just as it absolutely should be.” To which Chris Kissel of LA Weekly further commented, “If Thee Commons aren’t the best live band in Los Angeles, they’re damn near the top.”

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TVD Live: The Magnificent Seven
at Tipitina’s, 9/22

PHOTOS: DAVID TRACER | The self-described “band of bandleaders” put on a show Friday night at Tipitina’s that was brimming with familial camaraderie, casual virtuosity, and infectious joy. The band features Dave and Tommy Malone on guitars and vocals, John “Papa” Gros on keyboards and vocals, and Mark Mullins on trombone and vocals. The unstoppable, deep-in-the-pocket rhythm section includes Rob Mercurio on bass, Raymond Weber on drums, and Michael Skinkus on percussion.

These seven musicians have such a deep catalog of songs to choose from that the audience was occasionally left baffled by some tunes and amazed at the inclusion of others. They started the show off with a bang with Sam and Dave’s classic, “You Got Me Hummin’.”

For many in the crowd, the show was as much about seeing the Malone brothers perform together as the intense musicianship of the other players, But Mullins, for one, was not going to be upstaged. He got right into the middle of the jam with a trombone solo loaded up from the start.

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Basin Street Records celebrates 20 years
with Kermit Ruffins, Irvin Mayfield and
more tonight, 9/22

It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since the local label released their first album, Kermit Ruffins’ The BBQ Swingers—Live. They are pulling out all the stops to celebrate with a first-time-on-vinyl re-release of that initial album as well as new releases, a new book, and a very special evening tonight.

The party begins with a celebration of the release of A Beautiful World, a new album featuring Ruffins, fellow trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, and a cast of dozens of musicians. It starts at the Louisiana Music Factory at 6 PM and extends into the wee, wee hours down the street at the Blue Nile.

A Beautiful World is a thrilling collection of new tunes and classics from across the New Orleans musical spectrum. Cyril Neville guests on the Meters’ ballad, “Be My Lady” and sings a new one he wrote along with Ruffins and Mayfield called “Allen Toussaint.”

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The Magnificent Seven ride again at Tipitina’s, Friday 9/22

PHOTO: MARC MILLMAN PHOTOGRAPHY | You hear the term “supergroup” way too often. But how about a band of bandleaders? That’s what’s happening at Tipitina’s on Friday night when the Magnificent Seven get together for the first time in nearly a year and a half. The group was supposed to play Jazz Fest this past spring but was one of several bands to get cancelled due to rain. It’s their only show of the year. The videos below are the originals of some of the songs they may play.

The Magnificent Seven features Dave and Tommy Malone on guitar and vocals. They front the Radiators and the subdudes respectively. John “Papa” Gros of Papa Grows Funk is on keyboards and vocals. Bonerama’s lead horn man and singer Mark Mullins is on trombone and vocals. The rhythm section features Rob Mercurio of Galactic on bass, Raymond Weber (formerly of Dumpstaphunk and Dr. John’s Lower 911) on drums, and Michael Skinkus, the bandleader of Moyuba, is on percussion.

These seven musicians have a vast book of songs available to perform including tunes from each of their respective catalogs. Based on their three previous performances, fans are likely to hear a lot of covers, both well-known and obscure.

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The Chris Robinson Brotherhood and the songs of Barefoot in the Head hit the Civic on Sunday, 9/17

PHOTO: JON CORNICKThe last time the Chris Robinson Brotherhood was in town was for an outdoor show for Hogs For the Cause last spring. Before that it was two shows at Tipitina’s. The neo-psychedelic rock band graduates to the Civic Theatre with a performance on Sunday night.

Chris Robinson may be best known in these parts as one of the founders of The Black Crowes—a band steeped in southern rock and its accompanying mythos. But since that group went on extended hiatus he has traded the drawl of the south for the mystical lyricism and sterling guitar work associated with California.

Though I was never a big Black Crowes fan, I did see their show at the Civic a couple of years back—Robinson and his tighter-than-the-proverbial-drum ensemble have grown on me like a foraged mushroom.

The Black Crowes took some of their cues from those titans of southern rock, The Allman Brothers. Robinson has stated in interviews his unabashed love for the Grateful Dead. While the all-encompassing ethos made famous by the Dead over three decades is now relatively mainstream in the jam band community, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood appears to be truly living it beyond what happens on stage.

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A stylistic gumbo: Joe Ely returns to Chickie Wah Wah, Friday 9/15   

PHOTO: ERICA GOLDRING | Joe Ely, the iconic American singer, songwriter, and guitarist whose music touches on honky-tonk, Texas country, Tex-Mex, and rock ‘n’ roll returns to Chickie Wah Wah for his first show in almost two years. He will appear with accordionist Joel Guzman. George McConnell and Tomi Lunsford are the supporting acts.

Joe Ely was born in 1947 and spent his formative years in Lubbock, Texas. In 1970, he formed the Flatlanders with fellow Lubbock musicians Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock. According to Ely, “Jimmie was like a well of country music. He knew everything about it. And Butch was from the folk world. I was kinda the rock ‘n’ roll guy, and we almost had a triad. We hit it off and started playing a lot together. That opened up a whole new world I had never known existed.”

Guitarist George McConnell is best known for his work with jam band icons Widespread Panic. He was a founding member of southern rockers, the Kudzu Kings and was a member of Beanland. He will be playing a solo acoustic set.

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Ghanaian drummer
Paa Kow brings Cookpot to Café Istanbul, 9/14

On October 13, Paa Kow, a Denver-based drummer who was born in Ghana, will release his latest recording, Cookpot. In advance of the release, he’s performing with his band this Thursday night at Café Istanbul in the New Orleans Healing Center. Show time is 9 PM.

Paa Kow last played in New Orleans back in August of 2014. He was trained in the deep rhythms of his native country and has been playing music since he was a child. He is adept at a wide range of styles and genres from the sounds of highlife, the most famous style from Ghana, to funk and jazz.

He said, “My music isn’t traditional, but it has deep roots. The highlife music is there, but when you listen, it’s kind of jazz, too. It’s funk. It’s the way the music comes to me.” A thorough listen to an advance copy of the new album confirms his statement. The lilting rhythm and scintillating guitar lines of highlife are there in droves on several cuts. Other tracks percolate with funky keyboard parts and there are sax solos galore.

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TVD Live: Chicago Jazz Festival at Millennium Park, 9/2–9/3

PHOTOS: DENNIS McDONOUGH | Millennium Park was swinging with New Orleans grooves while tipping the scales in favor of the jazz-oriented city’s more edgy sounds when the Chicago Jazz Festival took over the park on Labor Day weekend. There were lots of homegrown players as well as the cream of the crop of New York’s young stars, and one very special musician from South Africa.

Mary Halvorson (pictured below) is known as a guitar player’s guitar player and she has been setting the standard in New York for over a decade. For her show in Chicago she brought her octet with Susan Alcorn on pedal steel, saxophonists Jon Irabagon and Ingrid Laubrock, trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson, trombonist Jacob Garchik, bassist John Hebert, and drummer Ches Smith.

Halvorson is known as a prickly, jittery player who writes very inventive music. With the octet she was able to showcase her compositions which move from pastoral to a fierce storm. On the lyrical second song, the trumpeter’s solo was a majestic clarion call.

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