Author Archives: Jay Mazza

Funk Monkey to record live album at the Maple Leaf Bar, 7/15

The Maple Leaf Bar has a decades-long history of live music shows marked by an intimate connection between the audience and the musicians on the low stage. Accordingly, there have also been numerous bands that chose to capture that elusive feeling on a live record. Funk Monkey, the soulful funky rock band that features trombonist Greg Hicks and guitarist Bert Cotton from Bonerama will join that illustrious group on Saturday night.

The history of live recordings at the “Leaf,” as everyone calls it, dates back at least to the early 1980s when pianist and vocalist James Booker, the legendary Piano Prince of New Orleans, was playing on a weekly basis. Though not released in his lifetime (he died at 48 on 1983), his genius in the live setting was further exposed to the larger world outside New Orleans when Rounder Records released some of the recordings.

Since then bands as varied as the Rebirth Brass Band, Papa Grows Funk, the Joe Krown Trio with Walter “Wolfman” Washington and Russell Batiste, and the New Orleans Suspects have released live albums from the Maple Leaf Bar.

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TVD Single Premiere: Bantam Foxes, “Blood in the Water”

Back in 2015, we were proud to premiere the video of “(I Wanna Move To) Texas” from New Orleans-based rock ‘n’ roll band Bantam Foxes. The duo of identical twins Collin and Sam McCabe are back with a new single, “Blood in the Water.”

The song features a fuzzy groove that has guitarist and vocalist Sam musing upon being attacked by a shark. Some would call it the perfect song for summer at the beach.

Bantam Foxes’ new EP, “Pinball” arrives in stores on August 11, 2017. The band will celebrate the release with a show at  Gasa Gasa in New Orleans on Saturday, August 12. “Pinball” was produced by Joe Stark and recorded at The Tackle Box in Houma, LA over a single weekend in February 2017. The new EP features four punchy new songs capturing the urgency of being in the room with a great rock and roll band.

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Steelism brings Ism to Chickie Wah Wah this weekend, 7/7–7/8

The first time I saw Steelism, the Nashville-based, steel guitar-driven band was in the intimate confines of the Louisiana Music Factory. This weekend, they return to New Orleans with a brand new album, Ism. The group opens on Friday at Chickie Wah Wah for the Lost Bayou Ramblers and on Saturday for the Mulligan Brothers.

Though the group is based in the country music capital of the world and they are defined by the otherworldly tones of the pedal steel guitar, they are hardly country music purists or, for that matter, part of what is heard on today’s country radio.

Guitarist Jeremy Fetzer is from Canton, Ohio, and pedal steel player Spencer Cullum is from Essex, England. The two met while touring the UK with Nashville singer/songwriter Caitlin Rose. They bonded over a shared love for classic film score composers like Ennio Morricone of Twin Peaks fame and 1960s instrumental acts like Booker T. and the M.G.s and the Ventures.

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TVD Premiere: Nyce!, “Where Do I Go From Here”

We’re pleased to debut “Where Do I Go From Here,”  a new song off Quarter Life Crisis, the latest release from Nyce! in anticipation of the big release party tonight (6/30), which is scheduled as part of the Smile Series at 2309 General Pershing Street in New Orleans. The Facebook invite is here.

Nyce! began playing as a duo on the streets of the French Quarter. The eclectic pop band, which is now a four-piece, recently completed a successful tour of the northeast and is excited to present the new music to a hometown crowd. The show starts at 7 PM and features supporting acts Kathryn Rose Wood, Jazmarae, and Renshaw Davies.

Quarter Life Crisis is the second release from the band, which features vocalist and violinist Danielle Ryce and vocalist and bassist Nic Lefebvre.“Where Do I Go From Here” delivers with a great guitar intro and Ryce’s compelling vocals. Lefebvre’s upright bass anchors the sound.

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Liverpool’s indie funk band, Kids on Bridges, releases latest single, “Just Because You Can”

“Just Because You Can,” is the most recent tune released by Kids on Bridges. It has a feel somewhere between the music of New Orleans’ fast rising indie rockers, MuteMath and a modern take on funk with a beat that will bring to mind Daft Punk’s work with Pharrell Williams on “Lucky.”

Though Kids on Bridges hail from a city far from New Orleans, they have intimate connections with the Crescent City. They have played with the Hot 8 Brass Band and appeared at the Howlin’ Wolf in New Orleans. Legendary Meters drummer Zigaboo Modeliste was featured on their previous single “Say OK,” and they will be recording again with local poet Chuck Perkins in the near future.

On a 2016 visit to the States, Kids on Bridges sold out the Viper Room in Los Angeles. They were also representatives of the United Kingdom at the Special Olympics and performed alongside Stevie Wonder.

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Naughty Professor’s
new album Identity in stores today, 6/23

I have been watching funky, jazzy, horn-heavy ensemble Naughty Professor develop as a band for several years. With the release of Identity they have finally come into their own as the newest direction of New Orleans funk. The album drops today.

What makes this album so exciting is the band has enlisted a wide range of artists to help create their vision. The group of musicians includes well-known names like legendary hip-hop artist Chali 2na of Jurassic 5 and keyboardist and vocalist Ivan Neville. It also includes up and comers from New Orleans including Dexter Gilmore of the hot new band, Sexy Dex and the Fresh.

Elsewhere on the album, David Shaw of the Revivalists, trumpeter Eric “Benny” Bloom of Lettuce, and percussion master Mike Dillon make appearances. Add guitarist Cliff Hines, vocalist Sasha Masakowski, keyboardist Jason Butler, pianist and singer Cole DeGenova, vocalist Mykia Jovan, and even Cuban percussionist Alexey Marti on various cuts and you have a recipe for an overstuffed disaster. But it turns out the album is a stunning collection; each tune fits together into the larger picture like a complex dish.

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Three masters: Mooney, Stone, and Dillon for the Little Gem Saloon, 6/23

The Little Gem Saloon, one of the oldest live music venues in New Orleans, has occasionally been presenting interesting combinations of musicians since they re-reopened a few years back. This Friday night, three master players, Delta slide devotee John Mooney, six-string slinger Marc Stone, and percussion virtuoso Mike Dillon, will come together for an evening of acoustic blues and New Orleans music.

John Mooney was once called “more possessed of the spirit of the blues than any man alive,” by none other than Bonnie Raitt. He learned directly from the great bluesman Son House and therefore has a link to the beginnings of one of the most quintessential of American sounds.

Marc Stone has been digging into the blues for decades as a bandleader, solo performer and sympathetic sideman. His most recent project teamed him with a who’s who of New Orleans music to play the great 1960s funk music of the legendary Eddie Bo. The band, dubbed the New Soul Finders after Bo’s old band, features players who either played with Bo or were directly influenced by him. I saw a recent set at the Little Gem and was struck by how the musicians’ uncanny ability to play Bo’s music blended seamlessly with their own musical personalities and other influences.

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Kudzu Kings reuniting for acoustic show at Chickie Wah Wah, 6/16

For close to ten years, from 1994 to 2003, the Oxford, Mississippi-based band was at the forefront of the nascent alt-country movement. After losing founding member George McConnell to Widespread Panic, the group went on hiatus while still playing the occasional show when the stars aligned. McConnell has been back in the fold and will be playing the gig.

The Kudzu Kings were regulars on the New Orleans club circuit, but their show at Chickie Wah Wah on Friday night will be their first local appearance in years. Their sound is a compelling mix of bluegrass, country, and good ole rock ‘n’ roll. They will be playing acoustic. Fellow alt-country musician Cary Hudson of the Piney Woods Players will open with a solo set and is expected to sit in with the band.

Numerous musicians have gone through the Kudzu Kings over the years. The three constants, who will all be appearing Friday night, are guitarist and vocalist Tate Moore, keyboardist Robert Chaffe, and bassist and vocalist Dave Woolworth. Woolworth’s name will be familiar to locals following the controversy over the city’s noise ordinance. He is a well-respected sound engineer who was hired by the city to assess sound levels at local clubs and make recommendations on the parameters of the ordinance, which incidentally, appears to have been tabled indefinitely by the city council.

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Elizabeth Cook brings Exodus of Venus, solo acoustic, to Chickie Wah Wah, 6/7

Since TVD is taking a break next week, I thought I would hip our readers to a great show next Wednesday at Chickie Wah Wah. Elizabeth Cook is a critically acclaimed, bold, and often brilliant Nashville singer-songwriter and country music outlaw, She is appearing solo; playing her acoustic guitar. Show time is 10 PM. Discounted advance tickets are available here.

The Florida native made her debut at the Grand Old Opry in 2000. But it was two appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman in late 2011 and 2012 that put her in the national spotlight. She ultimately appeared four times on the late night legend’s show before his retirement. Cook also hosts the morning radio show Elizabeth Cook’s Apron Strings on the Sirius XM radio station Outlaw Country.

Known for her wry songwriting skills and her ribald sense of humor (she released a song called, “Sometimes It Takes Balls to Be a Woman”), Cook went through another rough stretch in a private life strewn with interpersonal issues before emerging with the new song collection. She says, “If anything, (the new album) is a pledge of allegiance for the bad girls and the homecoming queens who got caught in a scandal. It’s a bill of rights and a testimony for those good girls who got away with more than they should have.”

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Newly released live recordings of African greats are a highlight of Zaire 74, in stores now

African music lovers rejoice! A new double live album on Wrasse Records, Zaire 74: The African Performers, features three superstars from the continent and three bands that are relatively unknown even to aficionados of world music. The superstars may not be household names to casual music fans, but Miriam Makeba, Tabu Ley Rochereau, and Franco are idolized across the globe.

The album’s backstory is almost as fascinating as the music and is detailed in a book that accompanies the release. Long story short, Hugh Masekela, the brilliant South African trumpeter, and his business partner organized a massive concert featuring international stars to take place in Kinshasa, the capital of Zaire (it’s now the Democratic Republic of Congo), in conjunction with the famed boxing match, “the Rumble in the Jungle.”

The music was recorded using state of the art equipment, but languished for years. Some eventually was released in two separate films, but it was mostly footage of the American stars including James Brown and B.B. King that saw the light of day. The Africans were relegated to the cutting floor. That was a shame beyond imagination considering the term and genre “world music” didn’t even exist at the time. Though South African vocalist Makeba played regularly in the United States, Rochereau didn’t get over the ocean until ten years after the concert.

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