Tonight Tipitina’s will host a benefit for the twenty people who were injured in the 7th ward shooting on Mother’s Day. Performers scheduled to appear include Bonerama, The Revivalists, The N.O. Suspects, Donald Harrison and the Congo Square Nation, the Hot 8 Brass Band, and the Stooges Brass Band. I wrote this essay last week.
I have been attending second line parades for over twenty years on a near weekly basis. There are some parades, like the 128-year-old Young Men’s Olympia Jr.’s procession of five divisions with six brass bands on the third Sunday in September, which I never miss. There are other parades like the Original Big 7’s annual Mother’s Day parade that attempted to celebrate a 10th anniversary this year, which I have never attended.
I have witnessed violence and felt the ever-present threat of violence. I have always taken seriously the various similar messages at the bottom of each club’s route sheet—leave your dogs, guns, and attitudes at home.
At one of my first parades in Central City, shots rang out. Hundreds of parade goers reacted like veterans of a foreign war—they all dropped to the ground. I was left standing—a lone naïve white face towering over a multitude of black faces of all ages.
Years later, the Rebirth Brass Band was leading a second line in Gert Town. A rumor circulated like a virus on a cruise ship. Phillip Frazier, the leader of the band, was being targeted. Tensions soared all along the parade route. While the parade was at a stop on a side street off Earhart Boulevard, sharp pops in the distance provoked the crowd. A mass stampede ensued, but by then I knew ducking and covering was better than possibly running right into the gunman. The pops turned out to be fireworks, but the parade had been ruined.
The Wednesday at the Square series continues today with an appearance by the homegrown multi-instrumentalist and bandleader. “West Bank” Mike Doussan opens the show at 5 PM.
As the 2013 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival wound down, I debated where I would spend the final hour and a half. There used to be no debate—I closed out the Jazz Fest with the Radiators for years. There were a few exceptions, notably Hugh Masekela in the early 2000s.
Last year, I decided to check out the Neville Brothers since the Rads were out of the picture due to their retirement. I was sorely disappointed. I could go into the details, but suffice it to say that they just didn’t have what it takes to translate onto a big stage anymore. Maybe they were just not in the game anymore. Read More
It’s hard to believe but this weekend marks the 7th edition of the annual three-day music festival and celebration of Mid City. As usual, the organizers have some great music in store for you. Here are my picks. The full schedule is here.
You can’t go wrong with the whole lineup on Friday afternoon and evening. Corey Henry and the Tremé Funktet get things started on the National Endowment for the Arts stage.
The band features Travis “Trumpet Black” Hill on his namesake instrument. Since reemerging on the scene just over a year ago, he has been tearing it with a wide range of performers. The rest of the members of the band are no slouches either.
We’ve been following this new band led by guitarist Blake Quick since their inception. This week they continue their weekly residency at the Maple Leaf Bar during the month of May.
If you haven’t seen Blake’s new band yet, this is the time to check them out. Pedal steel phenom Dave Easley, who has been keeping a relatively low profile lately (and shaved off his trademark beard), joined the band last week. Easley is known around town for his involvement in a variety of projects including his Grateful Dead tribute band, The Heartifacts.
I recently saw The Quickening without Easley and they tore through a great version on of the Dead’s “Eyes of the World.” They are also promising some Beatles tunes tonight as well as some scorching originals.
The drummer from Living Color returns to his jazz roots with a new album on Motema Music. The record features New Orleans saxophonist Donald Harrison as well as other standout musicians.
Before he became famous as a member of the groundbreaking hard rock group Living Colour, Will Calhoun was an aspiring jazz drummer raised on a steady diet of his father’s bebop records.
Calhoun goes back to his roots on his latest album, Life In This World—but to get there he takes a circuitous route through a wealth of musical experience around the globe, from studies with master musicians in Africa to experiments with electronic music in his home studio,
Calhoun’s adventurous sonic imagination couldn’t help but expand the horizons of a stellar jazz recording which pairs the drummer with greats including Wallace Roney, Donald Harrison, Charnett Moffett, Marc Cary, Doug Wimbish, John Benitez, and legendary bassist Ron Carter.
They are the only self-described “funkatronic” band in New Orleans, and they need your help.
Gravity A has been in the studio for months and their goal is to have their new album out by July. This will be the first album with the current lineup of the band—Mike Fou, Drew Meez, Danny Abel, and Devin Kerrigan. The group has been together for over eight years blending the funky sounds of the Crescent City with modern electronic elements.
Some of their accolades include Best Funk Album 2012 nominee of the Best of the Beat Awards, and Best Electronica Act 2010 nominee of the Big Easy Awards.
They still need to pay for mixing, mastering, guests, studio time, artwork, royalties, printing, pressing, and probably some other unforeseen expenses, too. Any contribution will be greatly appreciated, so go to the Kickstarter page and help support the next generation of New Orleans musicians.
Though this is not my usual musical recommendation for the weekend, I think we can all use a Champagne Stroll and some art on a Saturday evening.
Isabelle Jacopin is the artist who painted the image that I used on the cover of my latest book, Up Front and Center: New Orleans Music at the End of the 20th Century. Thanks to everyone who bought copies over the past year.
Her work is very evocative of the New Orleans milieu. She has painted lots of musicians, second line parades and other events in New Orleans. Her latest artistic directional shift is represented by the work below. I think I like this style even better than the watercolor work she was doing when I first met her.
Jazz Fest may be over, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of opportunities to get outside and hear some live, local music. Armstrong Park is the place to be this afternoon as the Jazz in the Park series continues.
This week, the TBC Brass Band headlines. The band has endured some struggles in their young career including the tragic murder of one of the members in a domestic case. They have also been at the forefront of the effort to keep the streets of New Orleans alive with music.
Lately, the band has been on fire. They are developing into one of the most sought after bands for the Sunday afternoon second line parades, and put on a great stage act as well. They well deserve this headlining slot.