Author Archives: Jay Mazza

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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PazFest IV: New Orleans’ Tribute to Joni Mitchell to benefit the Ruth Paz Surgery & Burn Hospital at the Civic Theater, 9/3

PHOTO: JACK ROBINSON, VOGUE, FEBRUARY 1969 | PazFest is a musical tribute to singer/songwriter and legendary composer Joni Mitchell and a fundraising celebration for the continuing support of the Ruth Paz Pediatric Surgery and Burn Hospital in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. There’s a who’s who of local, national, and international talent on board for the tribute and benefit. The show begins at 7 PM at the Civic Theater.

Among many of the musicians scheduled to perform are the husband and wife act Judith Owen and Harry Shearer, Tommy Malone of the subdudes, the legendary New Orleans musical great Deacon John, Jeff Coffin of the Dave Matthews Band and Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, and Chuck Mitchell, a veteran folk artist and Joni Mitchell’s first husband.

Brandon Tarricone, a fondly remembered musician who performed locally with the Brotherhood of Groove, is returning to town with his New England-based ensemble, Krewe de Groove. A well-known California act, A Celebration of Joni Mitchell featuring Kimberly Ford, is on the bill as well. Also, expect to see musicians who are expert interpreters of Mitchell’s music from as far away as Denmark, Colorado, and Ottawa, Canada including Philadelphia-based musician Joshua Thomas.

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Kermit Ruffins to host benefit for Backstreet Cultural Museum, 9/1

The Backstreet Cultural Museum which is located in the heart of the Tremé neighborhood, is known as a “powerhouse of knowledge.” The museum makes up for its relatively small size by its vast collection of memorabilia related to the black culture of New Orleans including Mardi Gras Indian suits, social aid and pleasure outfits, and jazz funeral ephemera. This museum needs support and this Friday night Kermit’s Mother-in-Law Lounge is the place to be.

I first wrote about the museum back in the early 1990s when longtime director Sylvester Francis opened his establishment in the former Blandin Funeral home across the street from St. Augustine Church. Francis was motivated to start collecting Mardi Gras Indian suits after he saw one moldering in the backyard of an Indian friend. I also covered last year’s benefit for TVD.

It may be hard to believe in the current cultural climate of New Orleans that Indians used to simply discard the artistry they had worked so hard to create. They also used to take the suits apart to reuse beads and other elements of the unique creations.

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Satchmo SummerFest: Weekend Picks, 8/5–8/6

The second floor of the Old U.S. Mint opens on the weekend with live music and dance lessons, while the two outdoor stages feature music from noon–9 PM on Saturday and from noon–8 PM on Sunday, culminating in the eagerly anticipated Trumpet Tribute to Louis Armstrong with Kermit Ruffins and a who’s who of other trumpeters. Here are our picks. The full schedule is here.

Start Saturday off with Joe Lastie’s New Orleans Sound featuring Kid Merv. Lastie is a drummer and member of another of the city’s famed musical families. Kid Merv is the one and only Mervin Campbell—a trumpeter and longtime devotee of trad jazz and Louis Armstrong.

John Boutte is a singer of uncommon grace. He may be best known these days for the theme song of the HBO show Treme, but his work in New Orleans goes back decades and he is comfortable with a wide range of styles.

Leroy Jones is another trumpeter that is a longtime devotee of trad jazz and Louis Armstrong. His style is rooted in the music he learned as a youngster under the tutelage of the great Danny Barker. The line from Armstrong through Barker to Jones is unerring.

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