Category Archives: TVD New Orleans

TVD Video Premiere: Future Cowboys, “Choose”

Jamie Bernstein wears many hats in the world of the arts. He is a singer-songwriter, an actor, and a record producer in New Orleans best known as an Americana artist who has recorded as J. the Savage and under his own name. With his new project, Future Cowboys, he veers off his well-trodden path. TVD is proud to present the world premiere of “Choose,” the first single from their debut record.

The track is a collaboration between Bernstein’s well-honed songwriting skills and the production work of Eren Cannata, an Emmy award-winning producer from Los Angeles. Miguel Oliveira, the owner of the production company Pantherburn Studios, is the mastermind behind the partnership between Bernstein and Cannata. They have created a fresh sound by adding modern production techniques to what is essentially singer-songwriter music.

The video was shot in the Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans and in Metairie, Louisiana on June 18th, 2018. Bernstein enlisted local actor, director, and producer Armando Leduc to bring the song to life. Leduc recruited cameraman and lighting specialist Nick Pino and cast local burlesque dancer and actress Cherry Bombshell to play the female lead. Kyler Poche plays the male lead.

The full Future Cowboys’ recording will be released in October on vinyl, which is being pressed at the Crescent City’s new production facility, the New Orleans Record Press. The rest of the music can be previewed here.

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Theryl “Houseman” DeClouet, 1951–2018

Theryl “Houseman” DeClouet, the soulful New Orleans singer and occasional actor who was best known for his role as featured vocalist in the early days of the funk band Galactic, passed away on Sunday, July 15 at 66. He had been ill for some time and was in hospice care.

DeClouet was a singer with an emotion-laden, wide-ranging voice that could swoop to the heights like his mentor Johnny Adams, but was often likely to dig to the depths bringing out the socially conscious pathos in his original songs like “Ain’t No Yachts in the Ghetto” and “Pocket Change,” and covers like Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” or Edwin Starr’s soul classic “War (What is it Good For?).”

In the 1980s he was a perennial performer at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and appeared around town with bands like the Lyrics, the a capella band Hollygrove, and his R&B outfit, Theryl and Reel Life. By the early 1990s, he was also gigging with the percussionist Mike Ward and his band, Reward.

His association with Galactic began when the band was in its infancy and had yet to solidify into its longtime lineup of bassist Robert Mercurio, guitarist Jeff Raines, drummer Stanton Moore, keyboardist Rich Vogel, and saxophonist Ben Ellman. Members of the band have issued statements via Facebook attesting to DeClouet’s critical role as mentor and early vocalist for the group.

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Henry Butler,
An Appreciation

The first time I ever saw a performance by Henry Butler, the virtuoso New Orleans pianist and vocalist who passed away July 2 at 69, was shortly after he returned to his hometown of New Orleans after living in Los Angeles where he recorded two critically acclaimed modern jazz albums. Since that solo set on the quad at Tulane University in the late 1980s, I heard him play nearly 100 times as a headliner or as a special guest of a huge variety of musicians.

I didn’t know a thing about him early on, but it was clear from that first afternoon that New Orleans music lovers were dealing with not just a new face in town, but a new phase of a piano paradigm that extended back through James Booker and Professor Longhair all the way to Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Moreau Gottschalk.

His prowess on the keys was akin to that of Snooks Eaglin on the guitar and caused a similar reaction from the crowd. Whether he was playing the blues, R&B, funk, or rock ‘n’ roll, his playing was simply awe-inspiring and confounding. Other musicians got up close to try to discern exactly how he was creating the storm of music emanating from his chosen instrument. The rest of us danced with our mouths hanging open. And when Butler opened his mouth to sing, the reaction was similar. He had a special voice and was able to sound like a blues shouter, an opera singer, or the bass vocalist in a gospel choir.

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Dr. Michael White’s Tricentennial Rag in stores today, 6/29

The New Orleans tricentennial has occasioned celebrations large and small across the city and the country. Surprisingly, there isn’t much new music being released to commemorate the historic occasion. So, Tricentennial Rag, the latest album from clarinetist, bandleader, and music historian Dr. Michael White is a welcome addition to both his voluminous output and the city’s festivities. After a local Jazz Fest release, the album is in stores today nationally on Basin Street Records.

All of the tunes on the new album are originals with the exception of the record’s closing song, the perennial favorite, “When the Saints Go Marching In.” The chestnut is given a treatment that takes the song back to its origins as a hymn. Longtime White sideman, trumpeter and vocalist Gregory Stafford, takes the vocal and brings the song back to the ecstasy of the black church.

Elsewhere on the album, Stafford sings another gospel-inspired original, “I Saw Jesus Standing in the Water.” But don’t think for a second that the album is filled with sacred songs, Stafford also takes the lead vocal on a new addition to the short list of modern-day Carnival originals with his vivacious take on “On Mardi Gras Day.”

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TVD returns as Satchmo Summerfest sponsor, eight acts to make debut in 2018, 8/3–8/5


For the seventh year in a row, The Vinyl District will be a media sponsor for Satchmo Summerfest, the festival that pays tribute to the greatest musician to hail from New Orleans, Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong. The fest returns to its longtime home at the old U.S. Mint on Esplanade Avenue and Decatur Street for the second year in a row after the ill-fated move to Jackson Square in 2016.

The biggest name of the list of artists playing Satchmo Summerfest for the first time belongs to the one and only Irma Thomas. The living legend has been an icon on the music scene both in New Orleans and across the world for decades. Though she didn’t write her most famous song, “Time Is On My Side,” she is quick to quip that she recorded it before those blokes across the pond, the Rolling Stones.

Thomas is the Grammy-winning Soul Queen of New Orleans, a recent Tulane University honorary doctorate recipient, and a member of the Blues Hall of Fame. She earned her Grammy, among several nominations, for her 2007 album After the Rain.

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The Quickening celebrate Begin Again at the Maple Leaf Bar tonight, 6/8

It’s been five years since guitarist Blake Quick started his band The Quickening and three years since the current lineup was solidified. The group is very excited to celebrate the release of Begin Again, their second album, on Friday night at the Maple Leaf Bar. They are promising special guests, free pizza, and a visual presentation befitting the band’s psychedelic sensibilities.

Begin Again represents a new stage for a band that tore it up the last time I saw them at the French Quarter Festival. But that’s nothing unusual because they bring great energy, guitar pyrotechnics, and a danceable funky vibe to every show.

Drummer Jeff Jani and bassist “Big Tall” Al Small were not part of the incarnation of band that released their debut in 2014. Quick says, “These guys really get the sound I’m trying to achieve and help out tremendously on song structure and production.”

He also concurs with most fans when he describes guitarist Dave Easley as the group’s “secret weapon.” Easley has been a fixture on the local scene for decades and his easy rapport with his younger bandmates is as important as his powerful work on both the pedal steel and the standard electric guitar.

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TVD Video Premiere: Sasha Masakowski, “Jockamo/Candy”

Sasha Masakowski has a varied career as an artist in New Orleans and a vocalist touring the globe. Today, TVD presents the world premiere of the first video off her new album, Art Market, which will be in stores on Friday, June 8 on Ropeadope Records.

The album title is a reference to street markets, the ubiquitous collections of shops and stands that are omnipresent around the world. Like the unique offerings in street markets, “each song is its own little universe, really. Each part is there with intention,” says Masakowski.

“Jockamo/Candy” is a case in point. It’s a fascinating remix of sorts of a tune that is seared into the musical memory of every New Orleanian and most likely most Americans of a certain age. Best known as “Iko, Iko” from the timeless recording by the Dixie Cups, it was originally released by James “Sugarboy” Crawford as “Joc-A-Mo” in 1954. Masakowski wrote her own original lyrics creating a new classic version of a song, which has had numerous iterations over the years.

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Leftover Salmon brings Something Higher to the House of Blues, 6/1

Before Americana was even a genre, back when musical influences were mostly separated by physical and/or philosophical distances, Leftover Salmon was distilling their inspirations—bluegrass, Cajun, old-time country, and roots blues—into a delicious beverage that was all their own. With over thirty years on the road, the band returns to New Orleans to play at the House of Blues on Friday night.

Leftover Salmon is touring in support of their great new album, Something Higher. The recording is a departure, but not an unexpected one for anyone who has heard the band in concert recently.

The group, which was known mostly as an acoustic bluegrass ensemble in their early days, has continued to evolve and add more influences. Something Higher features horns that evoke R&B and production effects that would have been out-of-place when the band formed. But their string-based, classic instrumentation is still fully intact despite the electrified nature of some of the new music.

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TVD Live Shots: Anders Osborne and Motel Radio at Lafayette Square, 5/16

PHOTOS: DENNIS McDONOUGH | The Young Leadership Council made an excellent choice when they booked Anders Osborne to headline this past week’s Wednesdays at the Square concert. Motel Radio, an up and coming indie pop band, made perfect sense as an opening act.

Osborne was clearly enjoying playing for the hometown crowd. He gave several shout outs and made local references including asking at one point if anyone in the crowd was from Mid-City—the part of the city where he makes his home. He was also relishing performing with his latest ensemble. The band features keyboardist David Torkanowsky, bassist Ron Johnson, and drummer Chad Cromwell.

Johnson and Cromwell make a formidable rhythm section. They both have deep careers in the music business and their rapport makes for a special experience for the audience. Torkanowsky has a long resume playing funk, soul, R&B, and jazz in New Orleans. When I first saw him playing with Osborne at Jazz Fest, I was surprised to see him in a rock ‘n’ roll band. But his organ playing adds so much that it makes perfect sense.

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New albums from Catherine Bent and
Molly Tigre in stores today, 5/18

World music lovers should head out to their favorite record store today to pick up two great new recordings. Catherine Bent is a cello player and her new album, Ideal, explores the world of Brazilian choro music from a new perspective. Brooklyn’s Molly Tigre’s eponymous debut is a different animal entirely as it asks the musical question—what would the desert blues of Mali sound like if no guitars were involved?

Bent is a Berklee College of Music professor who found herself in Brazil, with no Portuguese to speak of available to her, but she quickly was embraced by the choro community in Rio de Janeiro. Choro is an old style that predates the samba and bossa nova for which Brazil is best known. It’s string-based music, so even though Bent didn’t speak the language, her instrument did the communicating for her.

Ideal features original compositions by Bent that she tackled after first fully immersing herself in Brazilian music and culture over a couple of summers. The musicians on the album represent some of the best choro players in Brazil.

The songs are not exactly choro in its original form, although they retain many of the elements. The six and seven-string guitars are present representing the tradition, but with her cello dominating on many of the tunes, she truly explores the expressive possibilities and expands upon what some would consider a hidebound genre.

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Nyce!’s The Smile Series makes its debut tonight at Tipitina’s, 5/17

Two years ago, the alt-pop band Nyce! started a DIY event in a New Orleans backyard. The event has grown organically and the organizers are bringing it to the granddaddy of New Orleans clubs. The doors open at Tipitina’s at 9 PM.

The semi-monthly concert series features local musicians, artists, and vendors. By creating an intimate environment, they bring together people who value creativity. Nyce! is headlining the event. The other bands on the bill include Loose Willis, Fruta Brutal, and the Braun-Wood Band.  Visual art will be on display by Kara Heck and Allison Franz. Brown Girl Kitchen provides the food.

Nyce! has been featured twice in TVD. Last October we presented the premiere of their video “Sweet Samantha” and this past June we debuted “Where Do I Go From Here,” a new song off their album Quarter Life Crisis.

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TVD Live: Jazz Fest,
The Second Weekend, 5/3–5/6

PHOTOS: EDDY GUTIERREZ | With the exception of a slight drizzle on Saturday morning, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival had perfect weather for the second weekend in a row. While temperatures and humidity levels were higher than the first weekend, 2018 marked the first time in a few years where inclement weather didn’t affect the music. Here’s a look back at some of the sets I caught.

I eagerly awaited the first-ever appearance of Jupiter (pictured below) and Okwess, a Congolese band that was scheduled four times over the four days of the second weekend. They did not disappoint. In fact I saw them twice and some friends even sought out the additional performances.

The group was not a strictly soukous act, though that defining sound of Congo in the 20th century was definitely present in their mix. The band had rock touches and an ebullient approach that had people who walked up to the stage with curiosity joining in the throngs dancing.

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Our Jazz Fest Picks for the Second Weekend, 5/5–5/6

The final weekend is here! The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival enters the home stretch with two big days of music featuring some of the biggest acts the festival books and also some of the best local musicians. Here are our picks. The full Saturday schedule is here.

Get your day started with some deep New Orleans culture by heading to the Jazz and Heritage stage for Big Chief Fi Yi Yi and the Mandingo Warriors (pictured above). Fi Yi Yi, known as Victor Harris when not wearing his Mardi Gras Indian suit, is a 50-year veteran of the ancient masking traditions of the black Indians of New Orleans. His suits are designed to showcase the African roots of the culture. His tribe is a spectacle to behold. They also have a new book out.

Boyfriend is a female empowerment rapper who got rained out last year. It was one of the biggest disappoints among the bands that couldn’t play since it was going to be her first time playing at the Fairgrounds. She returns this year with her family friendly show, because, believe me, her nightclub shows are not for the prudish.

Since I started going to the Jazz Fest in the early 1980s, the fest has always made an important effort to feature the great artists of the 1950s. For some years now, the ever-dwindling number of legends have been participating in a New Orleans Classic R&B Legends showcase. This year it’s the Dixie Cups, Clarence “Frogman” Henry, Wanda Rouzan, and Al “Carnival Time” Johnson. See the legends while you can!

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Our Jazz Fest Picks
for Friday, 5/4

The marathon is just getting going for those festers attending every day of the 2018 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Friday is a musically strong day. Here are our picks. The full Friday schedule is here.

Start your day at the Jazz and Heritage stage for Kumasi. This giant band takes its cues from the Afrobeat of Fela Kuti, the great Nigerian superstar. They have a front man who sings and plays saxophone. He also regularly appears in a loincloth. But despite those similarities, Kumasi writes all their own music and will have you dancing before noon.

Brian Seeger is one of the unsung heroes of modern New Orleans jazz. A guitarist and longtime professor in the jazz program at the University of New Orleans, he has a sterling tone and enhances any project he works on. He appears in the Jazz Tent with his Organic Trio.

Tank and the Bangas are a full-on New Orleans musical phenomenon and are poised to reach the highest plateaus of the music business in record time. Just a few years back, the band, led by singer and former slam poet Tarriona “Tank” Ball, was playing small clubs in New Orleans. They recently played at Coachella, a serious tastemaker’s festival, and are now signed to a major label. Check out their new single below.

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Our Jazz Fest Picks
for Thursday, 5/3

PHOTO: EDDY GUTIERREZ | For years, everyone I know called Thursday at Jazz Fest “Slacker’s Day.” I thought it would stick. Now everyone calls it “Locals’ Day.” Fittingly, the powers that be are now offering two $50 dollar tickets for residents with a Louisiana ID. Here are our picks. The full Thursday schedule is here.

Alex McMurray has been booked early in the day virtually every time he has played at the Jazz Fest going back to the 1990s. His act is always a great way to start the day. Expect to see musicians like drummer Carlo Nuccio and saxophonist Joe Cabral supporting his wry songwriting and stellar guitar playing.

Though Belize isn’t often mentioned as part of the African diaspora, the Garifuna are a cultural group descended from runaway slaves who, like the Maroons in Jamaica, escaped and started their own communities. They retained many of the African influences that were erased elsewhere by forced assimilation. They are represented at Jazz Fest by Santiman and Garifuna Generation.

Big Chief Charles Taylor of the White Cloud Hunters is one of the legends still on the scene. I witnessed this in action hanging out with him at the downtown Super Sunday parade on Orleans Avenue. Every black Indian who walked past made a point of stopping to say hello and get his approval. He hits the Jazz and Heritage stage with his tribe at 1:55 PM.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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