Category Archives: TVD New Orleans

TVD Live Shots: Satchmo Summerfest, 8/2–8/4

PHOTOS: ARMAND DOUROUX | Rain is always in the forecast during the summer in New Orleans, but the music at the nineteenth annual Satchmo Summerfest went off without a hitch on Friday, August 2. The same couldn’t be said for Saturday. The heavens opened up with severe thunder and lightening towards the end of the set by the New Orleans Classic Big Band forcing the staff to cut the music during the performance by the Doyle Cooper Jazz Band.

On Friday, Cyril Neville (pictured at top) put on a dazzling performance with the young musicians in his son Omari’s band, the Fuel. Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers were their own ebullient selves, led by the singer and trumpeter. His pianist, Yoshitaka “Z2” Tsuji, almost stole the show with his fluid, high-energy solos.

Cooper’s trombonist, Miles Lyons, did double duty performing with The Classic Big Band as well as in the shortened set on Saturday. Joining trumpeter and singer Cooper was saxophonist Oliver Bonie (all pictured below).

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Satchmo Summerfest Weekend Picks, 8/3–8/4

PHOTO: PHILIP DUCAP | The Satchmo Summerfest continually innovates by bringing new talent and new band combinations under the big tent that represents the legacy of the great Louis Armstrong. This weekend is no exception with numerous debut performances and a very special set by a new big band set to celebrate the occasion. Here are our picks. The full schedule is here.

At 12 noon on Saturday the New Orleans Classic Big Band will make its Satchmo SummerFest debut. The group was assembled for the explicit purpose of playing the big band arrangements of the greats from the big band era. They will play arrangements of songs that Louis Armstrong developed for his orchestra in the 1930s.

Trumpeter and vocalist James Williams (pictured at top), an uncanny Armstrong impressionist best known for fronting the traditional jazz band the Swamp Donkeys, will lead the band, which features a bunch of New Orleans a-list musicians. Ricky Ricardi, the curator of the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens, NY will act as MC and provide context for some of the arrangements that are being performed live for the first time.

The Doyle Cooper Jazz Band follows the big band. Cooper is a trumpeter and vocalist who recently participated in a tribute to the late, great Al Hirt at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. He is a music lifer who first appeared in public as a pre-teen and has matriculated through the New Orleans jazz music pipeline.

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Satchmo Summerfest Picks for Friday, 8/2

The Vinyl District is a media sponsor of Satchmo SummerFest for the ninth year in a row. We are proud to support local music. The festival takes place this weekend at the old U.S. Mint at the corner of Esplanade Avenue and Decatur Street. Here are our picks for Friday. The full schedule is here.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band has a new album out that is tearing up the charts. It’s called Tuba to Cuba and it features music the band was inspired to create after visiting and collaborating with musicians on that most musical island. Today, Preservation Brass appears. This is a brass band version of the stage band.

DinosAurchestra is a relatively new traditional jazz band on the scene. However, fans of the genre will certainly recognize some of the members as they hail from some of the best bands in town. Expect to see trumpeter and leader Reid Poole, drummer Simon Lott, Miles Lyons on trombone, and bassist Nathan Lambertson among others.

The last two acts of the day will both be on fire. Cyril Neville (pictured at top) and his family just paid their final respects to the eldest Neville brother, keyboardist, singer, songwriter and all around hip cat Art Neville. Cyril will be appearing making his Satchmo fest debut with his son Omari’s band, The Fuel.

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TVD Premiere: Neal Francis, “This Time”

TVD is proud to premiere the new single from Chicago based rock and soul musician Neal Francis. The song, “This Time,” appears on Francis’ upcoming full-length album, Changes, which arrives in stores on September 20th on Karma Chief Records, a subsidiary of rising soul label Colemine Records.

Francis is a piano player steeped in the history and music of New Orleans. His work has been compared to that of Allen Toussaint and Leon Russell with a healthy dose of Dr. John and other artists from the funk and soul scene back in the day.

A piano prodigy, Francis, who was born Neal Francis O’Hara, broke out as an eighteen-year-old touring Europe with Muddy Waters’ son and backing up other prominent blues artists. In 2012, Francis joined popular instrumental funk band, The Heard. Before long, with Francis calling the shots, The Heard became a national act, touring with Meters’ progeny, the New Mastersounds and New Orleans’ own the Revivalists with appearances at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and other major festivals.

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Art Neville,
An Appreciation

When keyboardist, vocalist, songwriter and bandleader Art Neville passed away on Monday, July 22 at the age of 81, another connection to the glory days of the 1950s R&B scene in New Orleans, as well as to the seminal gestation period of New Orleans funk, joined the greats in the musical hall of fame that is our collective memories.

I never had a chance to see the Meters in their original incarnation, but the band he led beginning with the definitive instrumental “Cissy Strut” in 1968 is arguably his most influential contribution to American music. However, I did see nearly every performance after the band got together again in the early years of the 21st century.

I also saw Neville in various configurations with one or more of the original members and as a guest performer with many of the musicians that are his musical progeny. But it his early performances with the Neville Brothers band, still in their adolescence as a group and long before their march to international fame that are seared into my brain.

Here’s an excerpt from my book, Up Front and Center: New Orleans Music at the End of the 20th Century, which sums up the experience of seeing the Neville Brothers in the sweaty confines of the un air-conditioned first incarnation of Tipitina’s with a special shout out to my editor Alice Horowitz for insisting that I try to put those ineffable experiences into words.

“The music of the Neville Brothers was fresh and novel to many of their listeners. Though they were clearly not the Meters—the vocal harmonies were far beyond what that band was capable of—and despite the presence of Charles Neville and his saxophone, they were not a jazz band either. They played funk derived from the seminal sounds of the Meters, but they also rocked. Screaming electric guitar, not the syncopated rhythm work of Leo Nocentelli in the early Meters, was part of their instrumentation from day one.

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Lakou Mizik + 79rs Gang’s “Iko Kreyòl”
in stores today, 7/19

“Iko Kreyòl,” the first recording from a highly anticipated collaboration between the Haitian band, Lakou Mizik and the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian collective, the 79rs Gang, is available today at digital outlets. The EP features four versions of the New Orleans classic, “Iko, Iko.” The full album, HaitiaNola, arrives in stores on October 25 and will be released on vinyl.

Besides, the Mardi Gras Indians, the song also features higher profile guest artists—Arcade Fire’s Régine Chassagne and Win Butler as well as the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The EP includes the album version of the tune and three alternative mixes.

Numerous other artists have covered the iconic New Orleans song, which was made famous by the Dixie Cups on a record from back in 1964. For this latest retelling, Lakou Mizik and 79rs Gang trade off new verses in Haitian Kreyòl and English that celebrate the latest cultural reunion of Haiti and New Orleans. The connections between these cultures are on full display as the traditional Haitian rara horns mix with the New Orleans second line beat of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

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Motel Radio to preview debut vinyl release at Tipitina’s, 6/21

New Orleans’ own indie rock band Motel Radio will drop Siesta Del Sol on July 12. They’ll give hometown listeners a chance to hear the new music when they open for Dave Jordan and NIA at Tipitina’s on Friday night. It’s a free show that is part of the club’s Foundation Free Fridays series.

I first saw Motel Radio when they played their first show at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. I was struck by their intricate harmonies and great instrumentation as they built melodic guitar lines around a solid 21st century Laurel Canyon sound. Siesta Del Sol is their first full-length release after two well-received EPs. Listen to the debut single below.

The band features Ian Wellman and Winston Triolo on guitars and vocals. They began their songwriting collaboration while attending college in Baton Rouge, where they met Eric Lloyd (drums and vocals) and Andrew Pancamo (bass and vocals) and formed the band in 2014. They  relocated to New Orleans and keyboardist and singer David Hart joined the group shortly thereafter.

Siesta Del Sol was written and recorded with producer and engineer Eric Heigle at Wix Mix Productions and the band’s home studio in New Orleans. The band will kick off a national tour in support of the new album followed by a 5-week summer tour with Summer Salt.

Show time is 10 PM. Doors are at 9 PM.

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Amoebotics from songwriter Greg Schatz
in stores now on vinyl

I have admired the songwriting prowess of pianist and accordionist Greg Schatz since his days with his band, Schatzy. With his latest release, Amoebotics, he has taken the focus of his songs into the realm of science. The album is available on all platforms including on vinyl pressed at our own New Orleans Record Press.

On Amoebotics, Schatz’s trademark rhyming skill and inventive melodies are fully intact, while the subject matter has shifted dramatically from his slice-of-life tunes about romance and living in the city. The songs explore a modern ecosystem specific to Shatz’s idiosyncratic world view, hence the neologism of his title—a portmanteau of “amoeba” and “robotics.”

The lyrics are quite ingenious pointing to a not so distant, mostly already here future where, “machines are making machines and they don’t need me” and “I’m building a robot to take my job building robots.” The lines are exquisitely crafted.

Other songs on the album are about the human body and its relation to the natural world. “The Amoeba” is about a very dangerous bug that vexes city water systems and which made the news recently down in St. Bernard Parish. “The amoeba ate my brain, it doesn’t matter who’s to blame” is just one example of his skill with rhymes.

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Mike Doussan celebrates Yesterday’s Troubles vinyl release tonight at the Maple Leaf Bar, 5/31

Guitarist Mike Doussan will be celebrating the release of his sophomore effort, Yesterday’s Troubles, with a party tonight at the Maple Leaf Bar. A limited number of autographed, green vinyl records are available through his website.

The album is being released on CSB Roxy Music and was produced by Charlie Wooton. Yesterday’s Troubles features a who’s who of local musicians including bassist Wooton, drummer Doug Belote, keyboardist Keiko Komaki, trombonist Mark Mullins, guitarist and cello player Marc Paradis, saxophonist Jeff Watkins, and vocalist Arsene DeLay.

The record is being released on the last day of Mental Health Awareness Month in honor of Doussan’s brother, Brett, who died by suicide in 2014. A portion of the proceeds from the vinyl release will be donated to the Brett Thomas Doussan Foundation.

The release party will feature Doussan on guitar and vocals, Wooton on bass, Komaki on keys, Rurik Nunan on fiddle, Dave Freeson on guitar, and DeLay on backing vocals. Jermal Watson will be on drums. His band, Watson’s Theory, will be kicking off the evening at 8 PM.

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New Soul Finders!
bring classic Eddie Bo
45s to stage at Little
Gem Saloon, 5/31

I have written about the New Soul Finders! a few times in the past. A highlight of their shows is the still-vibrant vocals of the legendary Marilyn Barbarin. She is responsible for some of the hottest and most revered tracks in the New Orleans funk and soul canon as a member of Eddie Bo’s Soul Finders in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They perform on Friday night at the Little Gem Saloon.

An added treat will be the addition of bassist Noah Young and the horn section from Naughty Professor. Since emerging out of Loyola University’s music program, Naughty Professor has crisscrossed the country bringing their unique horn-driven funk to festivals and nightclubs hungry for the latest development in the ever-evolving New Orleans sound.

This will be the second time Naughty Professor as collaborated with the New Soul Finders! in concert. They also provide the slick and soulful horn arrangement for the New soul Finders! upcoming debut single.

Show time is 7:30 PM. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. They are available here.

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New box set Jazz Fest: The New Orleans Jazz
& Heritage Festival
in stores tomorrow, 5/10

A five-disc box set featuring 50 live recordings from the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival will be released Friday by Smithsonian Folkways right on the heels of the conclusion of the highly successful 50th edition of the iconic festival that began in New Orleans in 1970. The package has recordings dating back to 1974 and includes some of the most important artists to have emerged from New Orleans and Louisiana in the 20th century and beyond.

Let me state at the outset that this is the most impressive creation detailing the history of Jazz Fest that has ever been produced. The accompanying book, which is 136 pages long, includes essays by local writers who have been on the ground documenting the fest for decades including Keith Spera and Karen Celestan, nationally known writers including Jon Pareles, senior critic for the New York Times, and local experts including Rachel Lyons, the director of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s archive.

The book is also overflowing with exclusive photographs drawn from the archives of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, the Historic New Orleans Collection, and independent photographers. Even if you are an avid collector and/or photographer of the festival, there are images contained within the book that will blow your mind.

The package itself is simply one of the best box-set presentations I have ever seen. Designed in the shape of a record album, it is a pleasure just to turn the thick pages before even diving into the writing or the music. Once you dive in, you may not come up for air for quite some time.

The 50 tunes are loosely organized based on the singular experience of walking around the Jazz Fest. None of the nationally known acts that have been part of the festival since day one—think Duke Ellington—or stars of a more recent vintage are included.

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TVD Live: The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival,
5/2–5/5

PHOTOS: BILL BOELENS | The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival dodged a second weather-related bullet when more severe storms rolled through the New Orleans area early Saturday morning. The opening of the festival gates was delayed by 90 minutes, but miraculously the extremely dry ground absorbed most of the torrential rains leaving a lot of mud, but little standing water. Here’s a look at some highlights.

Right at the top of the list has to be the appearance of legendary singer Aaron Neville on the Acura stage for the first time since his last show with the Neville Brothers in 2013. He was one of several big names, including Jimmy Buffett, Rita Coolidge, and Irma Thomas to participate in the Tribute to Allen Toussaint. Neville dedicated “All These Things” to his ailing older brother Art “Poppa Funk” Neville.

Aaron also joined his younger brother Cyril (pictured at top), his son Ivan and his nephew Ian during an emotional mini-set as Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and Orleans Avenue wound down the 50th Jazz Fest. While Cyril, Ivan, and Ian were expected to join Andrews since they did so last year, few thought Aaron would appear.

After he sang a touching version of “Yellow Moon,” the Neville family reprised their medley of “Amazing Grace” and Bob Marley’s “One Love” for the first time in six years. For decades, that medley was the last music many festers heard as they were leaving the Jazz Fest.

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Our Jazz Fest Picks for the Second Weekend,
5/4–5/5

As the 50th anniversary of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival comes to a close over the final two days, I recommend looking deep into the schedule. Consider abandoning your preordained plans, your over-highlighted cubes, and wander the Fairgrounds hoping for the mystical Jazz Fest “stumble.” Here are our picks for Saturday. The full schedule is here.

Rick Trolsen is one of the most genre-diverse musicians in a town full of them. He leads a traditional jazz band, a Brazilian choro group, and plays piano in a dive bar on the West Bank. But on the second Saturday he will be leading his Neslorchestra. It’s a big jazz band playing esoteric music for the mind.

For the 50th anniversary, Jazz Fest has been bringing back many of the world music bands that have graced its stages over the years. Boukman Eksperyans of Haiti is one such group. They play high-energy dance music and will be appearing on one of the smallest and most exciting stages at the fest—the Cultural Exchange Pavilion—on the second Saturday. I expect a dance party par excellence. They also play a bit later in the day on the Jazz and Heritage stage and elsewhere on Sunday.

Boukman last played at the Jazz Fest back in 2011, but their first time was way back in 1991. I was at both gigs. To hear a world music band of more recent vintage consider checking out Jupiter and Okwess of the Congo. They played last year and blew minds with their great stage presence and killer guitar work.

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Our Jazz Fest Picks
for Day Six, 5/3

Get ready for the home stretch. With eight days of festing, pacing is in order. The second Friday of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is packed with great bands. Here are our picks. The full schedule is here.

A few years back Jazz Fest brought in a group from the African country of Benin and they promptly blew peoples’ minds with their elaborate dance styles, frenetic percussion, and outrageous costumes. This year another group from of Benin, 3L Ifèdé, will kick off the Gentilly stage on the second Friday. I couldn’t find out much info as all of their publicity materials are in French, but suffice it to say that this group will be well worth checking out.

Cellist Leyla McCalla has been putting on amazing sets at the Jazz Fest since her first solo appearance back in 2012. But all of those performances were on the Lagniappe stage with its restricted views and seated crowds. This year, she has graduated to the Fais Do Do stage. I expect a huge crowd, so get there early.

Leo Nocentelli played with the Meters at the first Jazz Fest 50 years ago. He lived in Los Angeles for decades but is back home in New Orleans. This should be a chance for the guitarist to really show off his skills on a day when two other acclaimed, but much younger guitarists, Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars and Gary Clark, Jr., follow him on the Gentilly stage.

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TVD Live: The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival,
4/25–4/28

PHOTOS: STEVEN KASICH | The first weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival got off to a wet start when massive storms forced a delayed opening on Thursday and soaked the New Orleans Fairgrounds. But after the front passed, the weather was picture perfect the rest of the weekend, although the grounds were still a bit soggy on Friday and Saturday.

Carlos Santana (pictured at top) and his namesake band drew one of the biggest crowds of the weekend dwarfing first time festival performer Katy Perry and many of the other big names. Allotted a two-hour set, the Woodstock veteran pulled out all the stops creating a Latin soul dance party on the Acura stage.

Santana was even given an extra twenty minutes past the usual cutoff time of 7 PM. He used it well by inviting local hero Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews on stage. The two traded licks and then a hug to huge cheers from the smitten audience.

Local bands fared well including Kumasi. Their horn section set the tone for an Afrobeat set that had everyone dancing at the considerably smaller Jazz and Heritage stage.

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