Author Archives: Jay Mazza

Alana Davis previews Love Again at the Little Gem Saloon, 3/31

Guitarist and bandleader Marc Stone has made a side career bringing singers who haven’t played in a while back into the spotlight. On Saturday night, Alana Davis, one of the leading lights of the folk/pop boom of the late 1990s will make her first appearance in New Orleans in twenty years. She will be playing at the Little Gem Saloon with Stone and his band along with special guests trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis and bassist Reggie Scanlan. The show will be a sneak peak of sorts at her new album, Love Again, which is due in stores in May. It is her first album since 2004.

Davis’ sultry voice and sophisticated sense of melody set her apart from many of her contemporaries right from the beginning of her career. In 1997, she burst on the scene as a neophyte in the music business and was signed out of the blue by Elektra Records.

Her breakout debut, Blame It On Me, was named one the top 5 albums of 1997 by Time magazine and propelled her from a total unknown to a festival headliner with singles in heavy rotation on radio and MTV, a Top 40 hit, and a Grammy nomination.

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French Quarter Festival full schedule is out now, TVD returns as Media Sponsor

For the seventh year in a row, The Vinyl District is a media sponsor of the French Quarter Festival, which is scheduled for April 12–15. The festival continues to grow and attract new talent, boasting the debuts of over 30 artists. Here’s a preview of what’s to come. Stay tuned to TVD for daily previews and reviews.

Of all of the new artists performing for the first time at the fest, I am most excited about Chocolate Milk. This 1970s-era New Orleans R&B/funk band were contemporaries of the Meters and actually released more major label albums than their more famous peers.

Speaking of the Meters, Cyril Neville who provided vocals and percussion for the band during the tail end of their heyday, has a new band called Swamp Funk. The group features a bassist who has a deep pedigree in New Orleans funk. Daryl Johnson was a member of the Neville Brothers during their 1980s period of world domination.

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Soulive’s “Cinematics, Vol. 1” EP in stores
today, 3/23

The genre-smashing groove masters in Soulive are releasing their first collection of new music in six years. The EP, “Cinematics, Vol. 1” is out today on digital and vinyl formats via the trio’s own label, Soulive Music.

The band, which features brothers Alan (drums) and Neal (keys) Evans along with guitarist Eric Krasno, is best known for their infectious blend of soul-jazz, hip-hop, funk, and rock. But “Cinematics, Vol. 1” takes them in a different direction. The group has transformed their sound with five new cuts that evoke film soundtracks, hence the EP’s title.

Though the concept of creating music that comes across like it was created to support a visual medium sounds like it was planned, the band insists it happened organically. They arrived at Alan Evans’ studio without any overarching concept in mind.

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Roosevelt Collier’s Exit 16 in stores Friday, 3/9

The well-known pedal steel guitarist Roosevelt Collier releases his first solo album on Friday. Collier says, “This record is a record about me. It’s telling a story of who I am, where I’m from and where I’m going.”

On the record, which is called Exit 16 after his hometown exit off the Florida turnpike, Collier plays both pedal and lap steel guitars. Bassist Michael League of Snarky Puppy (who also produced the album), drummer JT Thomas, and organist Bobby Sparks join him on the album.

Collier first came to my attention playing with the Lee Boys. Their style of “sacred steel” is a unique tradition of the House of God congregation and features fervently evocative fretwork that evokes the transcendent experience of gospel music through high-energy guitar work.

As a solo performer, Collier is now a sought-after talent both on record and on stage, performing alongside musical luminaries in rock, blues, and pop. Some of his many collaborators include the Allman Brothers, the String Cheese Incident, Buddy Guy, Los Lobos, Robert Randolph, and the Del McCoury Band.

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Black Times from
Seun Kuti & Egypt 80
in stores today, 3/2

Seun Kuti, the youngest son of Afrobeat legend and African music icon Fela Kuti continues to draw from the deep well of his father’s music while forging his own path in the 21st century. He returns with his fourth album, Black Times, which is in stores today. The album features appearances from Carlos Santana, Robert Glasper, and others.

Seun Kuti has carried the did mantle of his father and his father’s music since 1997 when Fela passed away and he inherited his band as a 14-year-old. Egypt 80 was originally known as Egypt 70 and appeared on many of Fela’s most important works.

Though Seun maintains his father’s band and has the same understanding of the role of music in addressing injustice in the world as the famed musical revolutionary, he is clearly living in this century. As with his previous album, A Long Way To The Beginning which was released three years ago, Black Times was co-produced by the Grammy-winning jazz pianist Robert Glasper.

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GlobalFEST’s “New Golden Age of Latin Music” comes to the Hi Ho Lounge, 3/2

(Editor’s note- order of bands has switched) In a stroke of luck for New Orleans music lovers, two of the most acclaimed Latin bands in the United States arrive in the Crescent City for a show at the Hi Ho Lounge on Friday, March 2. Orkestra Mendoza and Las Cafeteras are on a national theater tour and suddenly had a free night. Shows on the rest of the tour have been in theaters including performances at the Manship Theater in Baton Rouge, so this is a chance to see these acts in an intimate setting.

Singer and guitarist Sergio Mendoza founded Orkestra Mendoza in 2009 as a one-off tribute to the Cuban mambo king Pérez Prado. The band, which is from Tucson, Arizona, calls their sound “indie mambo” and plays an amalgamation of Latin styles including mambo, ranchera, and cumbia with a healthy dose of psychedelia and rock ‘n’ roll. The group includes Sean Rogers on bass and vocals, Jaime Peters on drums, Marco Rosano on keys and saxophone, Brian Lopez on guitar and vocals, and Quetzal Guerrero on violin and vocals.

Though based in Tucson, Mendoza grew up straddling the United States-Mexican border in Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora. While the music of Orkestra Mendoza comes across as a high-energy dance band, Mendoza is well aware of the current political climate and the demonization of Mexicans. Yet, his mission is to allow audiences to forget about politics and institutional racism and just dance.

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TVD Live Shots: The Revolution at the Joy Theater, 2/22

PHOTOS: INGRID WILLIAMS | From the opening notes of “America” all doubts were dispelled. The Revolution was hitting on all cylinders like the same well-oiled machine that helped expose Prince’s music to anyone unfamiliar with the icon in the period before “Purple Rain” made him a superstar. The rest of the concert was a history lesson, homage to the legend, and a real good time.

With bassist Mark “Brownmark” Brown and guitarist Wendy Melvoin (pictured at top) handling most of the vocal duties and acting as co-bandleaders, they tore through a set list of both hits and deep cuts demonstrating the depth of Prince’s catalog. A more obscure song, “Computer Blue,”  followed the opener which was the first single off Around the World in a Day, one of the albums that featured the definitive version of The Revolution.

After a high energy start filled with other funky tunes like “Take Me With You” and “D.M.S.R.” the audience was fully engaged with what the band was trying to do. They showed that they are not just a cover band reeling off hits by another artist, but the band, which had a hand in creating the songs.

Melvoin ably handled vocals on “Raspberry Beret” but cautioned the crowd that without Prince singing we would have to handle some of the vocals. Of course, the place went wild with a sing-a-long that was repeated three songs later on “1999.”

It was clear that the night was as emotional for the musicians as it was for the audience. This was never clearer than when drummer Bobby Z., keyboardist Dr. Fink, and Brown left the stage to allow Melvoin and keyboardist Lisa Coleman to duet on the bittersweet ballad, “Sometimes it Snows in April.” The feeling of loss was clear on their faces and throughout the audience as well.

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Soul Project celebrates release of The Long Hustle at D.B.A., 2/25

Soul Project, one of the hardest working bands in New Orleans, will make their first appearance at D.B.A., though hardly their first show on Frenchmen Street, on Sunday to celebrate the release of their sophomore effort, The Long Hustle. Show time is 10 PM and the band expects numerous special guests including several of the musicians who have cycled through New Orleans’ own self-proclaimed ambassadors of funk over the years.

Led by guitarist and vocalist Cristian Duque, Soul Project has been grinding it out in the clubs of New Orleans since 2001. The Long Hustle is the follow-up album to their 2013 Offbeat magazine’s “Best Of The Beat” nominated debut album, Music For Movers & Shakers.

I have seen the band numerous times over the years and a recent set at the Louisiana Music Factory found the group on top of their game. Though they proclaim themselves to be funksters, and they are definitely funky, old school New Orleans R&B runs through their music like blood runs through veins.

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Acclaimed jazz pianist Jason Moran to play in conjunction with Prospect.4, 2/21–2/22

PHOTO: CLAY PATRICK McBRIDE | A fascinating new piece of public artwork will premiere this weekend in New Orleans as part of the closing weekend of the art exhibition known as Prospect.4: The Lotus In Spite of the Swamp. One of the world’s most famous living artists, Kara Walker (photo below by Chuck Close), has constructed a thirty-two-note steam calliope, which will be installed and activated daily on the banks of the Mississippi in Algiers. On Friday and Saturday afternoon, Jason Moran one of the most important jazz musicians of his generation, will play the contraption.

The Katastwóf Karavan is a calliope similar to the one that is played throughout each day from the deck of the Steamboat Natchez in the French Quarter. Walker’s creation is housed in a funky looking parade wagon of her own design.

The calliope plays songs and sounds associated with the long history of African-American protest music including gospel, reggae, jazz improvisation, chants, and shouts. Moran will add his own flourishes on Friday at 4:30 PM and on Saturday at 2:30 PM.

While Moran’s appearance will surely be the highlight for jazz fans, the Katastwóf Karavan on the west bank will alternate with the Natchez’s calliope on the east bank all day Friday through Sunday beginning at 11:30 AM on Friday, creating a once-in-a-lifetime, call-and-response experience across the mighty river. Though keep in mind that the artist’s intention is juxtapose the more saccharine sounds of the Natchez with the social messages inherent in her selections.

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The Revolution bring the Prince catalog to the Joy Theater, 2/22

With the untimely passing of Prince, the world lost one of the true geniuses of music. While his death has left a major void, see the Superbowl halftime show a month ago, it also sparked the reunion of one of the Purple One’s most formidable backing bands. The Revolution will be appearing at Joy Theater Thursday night with DJ Soul Sister opening.

While Prince was known for writing the songs, producing the music, and playing most of the instruments on a majority of his albums, he had some strong collaborators throughout his career. Most prominent among them are Revolution band members Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, Bobby Z, BrownMark, and Dr. Fink.

These are the musicians who performed with Prince on some of his best works including Purple Rain, Around the World In a Day, and Parade. Some of the musicians also played on 1999, Controversy, Dirty Mind, and Sign O’ The Times.

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The Mardi Gras Indian Orchestra returns to
the Hi Ho Lounge on Fat Tuesday!

This year’s eagerly awaited return of the all-star Mardi Gras Indian Orchestra features some of the best musicians New Orleans has to offer. The group will play three sets beginning at 4 PM on Mardi Gras at the Hi Ho Lounge. Last year’s performance sold out, so get there early to guarantee you’ll see at least one Indian on Fat Tuesday.

Accordionist, percussionist, and vocalist Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes of Sunpie and Louisiana Sunspots and various other ensembles fronts the orchestra along with Big Chief David Montana of the Washitaw Nation Mardi Gras Indian tribe. The band, which presents big band arrangements of classics from the black Indian canon of New Orleans, has new songs this year after extensive rehearsals.

The musicians performing include guitar players Jake Eckert (New Orleans Suspects, Dirty Dozen Brass Band) and Billy Iuso (Billy Iuso and the Restless Natives), reed player Brad Walker (Sturgill Simpson and numerous others), cellist Helen Gillet, violinist Rurick Nunan, drummer Eric Bolivar, percussionist Rosie Rosato, keyboardist CR Gruver (New Orleans Suspects), and bassist Reggie Scanlan (The Radiators).

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TVD Live: RAM with Arcade Fire at the Inaugural Krewe du Kanaval, 2/6

PHOTOS: DENNIS McDONOUGH | When Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, the married couple who front Arcade Fire, teamed up with Ben Jaffe (all pictured above) and his crew at Preservation Hall to create a new Mardi Gras organization focused on the connections between Haiti and New Orleans, most observers knew it would be something special. On Tuesday afternoon (2/6) the debut of the Krewe du Kanaval was a rousing success, joining two copacetic cultural traditions into a synergistic carnival.

The event concluded with a concert by RAM, a well-known Haitian band that performed at the New Orleans Jazz Fest back in 1994 and again in 2011 when the festival was celebrating the island nation. Chassagne has roots in Haiti and performed along with Butler at RAM’s most recent appearance at Jazz Fest.

The two joined them again this year, along with members of the Preservation Hall Brass Band, on a much bigger stage to a much more enthusiastic crowd filled with Carnival revelers, world music aficionados, and a fair number of Haitian expatriates.

RAM was founded and is led by Richard A. Morse (hence the band’s name), an enigmatic character who wore a top hat and acted as a master of ceremonies of sorts while his group played traditional Haitian songs and his originals with the hard thump of a rock band.

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Miss Mojo launches Kickstarter to fund
first full length album

Since 2014 the soulful band Miss Mojo has been wowing audiences with their kinetic live show and great original songs. They are now seeking funds to support their effort to produce Love in Time. If you haven’t seen the band perform at venues around town or during their recent east coast tour, they will be playing Lundi Gras night (2/12) at the Hi Ho Lounge.

Miss Mojo has already released the “Up & Personal” EP and a great music video, which you can check out below. But they are ready at this point in their careers to produce a defining work.

“Up & Personal” was financed strictly from gig money, but they believe this new project deserves a larger financial commitment. The ten songs that will make up Miss Mojo’s first full-length album were written with the intention of taking the listener on a journey. It follows the movement of an individual through the various stages of a relationship, capturing the emotions and energies while navigating the complexities of love.

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Dinola to play two shows next week in support of Up High, the first vinyl pressed in New Orleans

The New Orleans heavy rock and blues band Dinola will play Sunday night (2/4) at the Circle Bar and Tuesday night (2/6) at Gasa Gasa before heading to Texas for a quartet of shows. The band’s latest release, Up High, a 12″ 45 rpm disc, holds the distinction of being the very first record manufactured at New Orleans Record Press, a newly opened vinyl plant in the Crescent City. It was released on Saustex Records on January 19, 2018.

This wide-release debut was produced by Dave Catching (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal) and recorded and mixed by Hayden Scott (Arctic Monkeys, AWOLNATION) at Catching’s storied studio located in Joshua Tree in California’s desert.

Sue Ford, the lead vocalist of famed Mardi Gras parade band Pink Slip, fronts Dinola. Pink Slip holds the distinction of not only being the first rock band to perform on a float during the ancient Carnival tradition, but also the first all-female act.

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Ron Wood & Ronnie Lane’s Mahoney’s
Last Stand
in stores tomorrow, 2/2

Sometimes an album created by some of rock music’s greatest artists gets lost in the shuffle of time. That’s certainly the case with Mahoney’s Last Stand, an album featuring future Rolling Stones’ guitarist Ron Wood and Faces’ songwriter and bassist Ronnie Lane as well as a who’s who of British rock stars from the 1970s. The album resurfaces tomorrow.

The 1972 session which produced Mahoney’s Last Stand was produced by Glyn Johns—the legend behind efforts by Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, the Who, and numerous other classic rock acts including the Eagles, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and of course, The Beatles.

Some of the other musicians who appear on the album, which was actually a soundtrack for a film (seen above and below), include Pete Townshend as well as several players who had connections to the Rolling Stones including Ian McLagan, Ian Stewart, Bobby Keys, and Jim Price.

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