Even though we will be off for the rest of the week celebrating Thanksgiving, I wanted to give readers an advance warning shot about a great show on Friday night at Chickie Wah Wah. The music scene in Baton Rouge has been heating up lately and representatives from Family Fish Productions have been making the drive upriver to check out the latest bands. Two of the finest outfits are making the trip to New Orleans.
Beginning the evening at 8 PM will be Minos the Saint. This ensemble is an eclectic chamber folk band with a unique sound that is an acoustic blend of guitar-based songwriting mixed with symphonic brass along with accordion and funky bass.
Since the band’s founding in 2013, they have performed at numerous venues and festivals across South Louisiana including French Quarter Fest, Gasa Gasa, the AllWays Lounge, the Marigny Opera House, the House of Blues, and the Varsity Theater in Baton Rouge.
With Sunday a day off for the New Orleans Saints as they try to recover what’s left of the season, it’s time for the annual Oak Street Po-Boy Fest. This year they have another great musical lineup with old favorites and a few newcomers. Of course, there are also more food choices than imaginable. Click the link for the full schedule.
Besides the two main outside stages, three of the businesses on Oak Street are also hosting saloon stages. From 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM, hop into Oak Wine Bar and check out Cole Williams and Danny Abel. Most readers know Abel as the guitarist in Gravity A and numerous other bands. Cole Williams is a newcomer to the city, but the singer has already put down some serious roots and is an exciting performer. This intimate duo set should give first time listeners a close up experience.
Another act worth checking out appears at 2 PM on the Blue Plate Mayo stage at Leonidas and Willow Streets. Tank and the Bangas burst on the scene like a blitzkrieg and have not let up yet. The neo soul outfit spent a good part of this past summer gigging in Europe and their sound has benefited from the time across the pond.
It has been about fifteen years since five of the leading lights of the Frenchmen Street modern jazz scene have played together. Known collectively as Quintology, the band members met as students the University of New Orleans and have individually gone on to great success in the wider music world. They are performing three times this week. I included the link to the band’s site even though it is circa 2003. The videos are vintage as well from the television show Louisiana Jukebox in 1998.
The first set finds trumpeter Mark Rapp, drummer Mark DiFlorio, bassist Brady Kish, saxophonist Brent Rose, and keyboardist Charlie Dennard back in their old stomping grounds at UNO. They will perform at the Sandbar at 7 PM tonight.
Thursday night the group will play two sets at Snug Harbor at 8 and 10 PM. Friday night finds them on a new stage when they light up Chickie Wah Wah at 9 PM.
The Maple Leaf Bar is the place to be on Saturday night when guitarist and singer Brint Anderson celebrates the release of his latest recording, Covered In Earl. For those reading out of town, the title of the album is a pithy play on words because all of the songs on the new record are from the pen of the late, great Earl King. “Earl” is how many in New Orleans (and Queens, according to a recent NY Times story) pronounce “oil.”
Brint Anderson is best known around town as George Porter, Jr.’s longtime funky foil in his band, the Runnin’ Pardners. But he has maintained a second identity for decades as a blues guitarist par excellence. He is also one of the foremost interpreters of the music of Earl King—so the album makes perfect sense.
Covered In Earl covers the full breadth of King’s work—a songwriter right up there with the greatest tunesmiths to emerge from the Crescent City. He wrote “Big Chief.” He wrote “Trick Bag.” He also wrote one of the most popular rock ‘n’ roll songs of all time, “Come On,” which most people know from Jimi Hendrix’s version and the great chorus, “Come on baby, let the good times roll.”
I was a teenager living far from New Orleans when I first heard a song written by Allen Toussaint, the esteemed and iconic songwriter and producer who passed away on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 in Madrid, Spain. The song was “Fortune Teller” and the Rolling Stones were playing it over a boom box in my suburban bedroom. It grabbed me so hard I still know all the words and get goose bumps whenever I hear the closing line, “now I get my fortune told for free.”
Several years later, I was living in New Orleans, but like so many of my peers I wasn’t really aware of the man who wrote so many of the classic songs, which were ubiquitous in the Crescent City and across the globe. We were immersing ourselves in the music scene of the city and quickly discovered so many other incredible tunes by the likes of the Meters, Lee Dorsey, Irma Thomas, Ernie K-Doe, and numerous others. He wrote them all.
As we dug deeper, a musical fingerprint and a name emerged—Allen Toussaint—but the face, which is so beloved that it virtually took over social media since his passing, was much less visible. Because he labored behind the scenes as a songwriter and a producer, Toussaint was very well-known to musicians and the music industry, but not to the general public.
The British electro-funk band has been teaming up with New Orleans artists and creating a spicy voodoo funk sound. Their latest single, “Say OK” features Zigaboo Modeliste, a founder of the legendary Meters and one of the most revered drummers in the world. The tune drops on Wednesday, November 11, 2015.
The song comes off their album, Kidology, which was released on Wall of Sound. Though not as well known in the United States, the label is a prestigious one in the UK. The album hit the top 20 on the alternative chart in England.
Kids on Bridges have been having a considerable amount of success since TVD announced the release of the album last year. They toured in support of Beck and appeared alongside Stevie Wonder at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.
Big bands seem to be coming back in fashion and one of the best I have heard lately is Turkuaz, a nine-piece “PowerFunk” outfit from Brooklyn, NY. Their new album is off the hook and I look forward to hearing what they can do live. They play Saturday night in the upstairs Parish room of the HOB.
Turkuaz has a rock set up—guitar, bass, keys/guitar, and drums—but also features two saxophonists, a trumpeter, and two female vocalists. They create very forward-looking music with synthesizer flourishes amid dance floor beats and four distinctive singers. Needless to say, it’s a big sound.
Digitonium (Techne Records), Turkuaz’s second national release, has a Peter Gabriel and Talking Heads feel and evokes the best of ’80s dance music. But the band is also influenced by earlier funk sounds including Sly and the Family Stone, Rick James, and of course, the funkmaster himself, George Clinton. At one point, I heard a voiceover that might be Sir Nose’s long lost cousin!
Five captivating women will perform two shows on Thursday and Friday, November 5 and 6, 2015. On Thursday night, cellist and vocalist Helen Gillet will open the show at Chickie Wah Wah for Canadian songstresses, Chic Gamine. She will also sit in with the band. Gillet hits at 8 PM. On Friday evening, an encore performance will take place at the Louisiana Music Factory. Gillet will appear at 6 PM and Chic Gamine will follow at 7 PM. These are the only current U.S. appearances by Chic Gamine.
Though it defies perfect translation, Chic Gamine means roughly “stylish, mischievous, young thing” in Canadian French. The band features four female alternating lead vocalists who blend a mix of Motown-style girl group harmonies, R&B, nouveau pop, and vintage soul.
Add a male drummer with roots in Brazil and a guitarist backing the three vocalists/multi-instrumentalists and what emerges is an energetic, hip-shaking band that is completely original. Their soulful, captivating three-part songs artfully span the musical map and are completely at home in New Orleans.
This Friday night, Mardi Gras comes early as dozens of the black Indians in New Orleans, musicians, and other culture bearers will gather at the Mahalia Jackson Theater in Armstrong Park to celebrate the life and birthday of one of the true originals.
I first encountered Big Chief Alfred Doucette on the streets of Tremé on Mardi Gras back in the early 1990s. Known for his costume designs depicting historical figures and events, his incredibly artistic, uptown style “flat” suits always stand out in the downtown neighborhood, which is known for Indians creating three-dimensional designs.
Big Chief Doucette has been inducted into the Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame twice—once as Big Chief of the Flaming Arrow Warriors—and as Council Chief of the Flaming Arrow Warriors. He is also a master carpenter, master racecar builder and driver, thoroughbred horse trainer, and racer and past owner of the legendary Nite Cap Lounge R&B where the Meters performed early in their career. Chief Doucette is also a renowned musician, actor, songwriter and entertainer.