The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell hits it stride when the calendar turns to the weekend. Rockers Pearl Jam have a giant slot on the Acura stage at the end of the day on Saturday and the Red Hot Chili Peppers close out on Sunday with a slightly shorter set. Here are our picks for everything going on in between. The full schedule for Saturday is here.
Nigel Hall has had an incredible year. After bowing out of the funk band, the Nth Power, the longtime sideman released his first solo album to great acclaim and went off on his first solo tour. This year, he has a prime slot opening the Acura stage at 11:30 AM.
Trumpeter Brice Miller has led the Mahogany Brass Band for decades and they are always on my pick list due to the powerfully emotive performances by Miller and his bandmates. This year I send out extra props because Miller recently completely his Ph.D. and is now billed as “Dr. Brice Miller.” Congrats!
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell kicks off on April 22, 2016—the earliest date since 1994. With three days during the first weekend and four days during the second, Jazz Fest has something for everyone. Here are our picks. The full lineup is here.
When the great New Orleans drummer Smokey Johnson died last year, his funeral was packed with a who’s who of the New Orleans music community. The second line afterwards featured at least a dozen drummers. At the forefront was Shannon Powell, who leads a tribute to Smokey in the Blues Tent at 11:15 AM.
Smokey was best known for writing the famous beat leading off the classic R&B tune, “It Ain’t My Fault.” But he was also a versatile performer who spent years with Fats Domino and also played jazz as well.
With over twenty years of performing and recording together, Tommy Malone of the subdudes and Ray Ganucheau, a founding member of the seminal roots rock band the Continental Drifters, are releasing their eagerly awaited debut, “Muddy Water,” as the Batture Boys on Friday.
The six song EP was produced by Grammy winner Jim Scott, best known for his work with Wilco, Tom Petty, and the Tedeschi Trucks Band.
Malone and Ganucheau’s songwriting has always touched on the distinct emotions associated with being a sensitive human being. Tunes on the release relate to the drug-related death of Johnny Ray Allen, one of the original members of the subdudes and the composer of some of their most classic songs.
The festival season continues in earnest this Saturday when the legendary pianist Chick Corea and the ground-breaking banjo player Bela Fleck perform at the newly renovated Orpheum Theater in support of their live double album, Two.
The two musicians are unlikely collaborators on the surface, but since recording their first album together, The Enchantment in 2007, the pianist who rose to fame as a member of the premier jazz fusion band Return to Forever, and the banjo player who has redefined the role of the traditional bluegrass instrument, have found an intuitive rapport.
About their playing together, Fleck said, “Every night will have its own personality and follow the energy of the room, the space, and the audience that’s there, and how we’re feeling. We’ll build on what we did the night before. That’s the fun part of it.”
The footprint of the French Quarter Festival expands to twenty-three—count them, twenty-three—stages for the final two days. There is more music happening in New Orleans this weekend than at virtually any other festival in the world. Here are our picks for each day. The full lineup is here.
Put on your dancing shoes early Saturday morning for Daria and the Hip Drops at 11 AM. The band, which is led by Daria Dzurik on steel pan and vocals, blends rocksteady, pop, and funk styles with electronic samples, funky bass lines, and Caribbean based-rhythms creating a unique, danceable concoction.
Funk Monkey is a band that mines soul jazz territory and groove music with a decidedly New Orleans feel and features trombonist Greg Hicks and guitarist Bert Cotton from Bonerama.
One band I never fail to check out at FQF is Magnetic Ear. Led by an “alien of extraordinary ability,” saxophonist Martin Krusche, the band is like a New Orleans brass band, but decidedly different. Krusche is from Germany, hence the aforementioned description, which is also the title of one of their albums.
PHOTO ABOVE: CAITLYN RIDENOUR | The real estate encompassing the French Quarter Festival expands by seven stages to include the French Market, the Old U.S. Mint, and the new Spanish Plaza stage which debuted last year. Here are our picks for day two of the annual event. The full schedule is here.
Bluesman and bandleader Marc Stone kicks things off at 11 AM on the Pavilion stage in Woldenberg Park. Stone has been delivering impassioned performances with top-notch musicians in interesting configurations for years. Festival season is his bread and butter, so expect a first class show.
Sweet Crude, led by Sam Craft and Alexis Marceaux (pictured at top), have been TVD favorites since the francophone indie band’s debut performance. They play on the Abita Beer stage at 12:35 PM. Expect high energy dance music to get at least some of the crowd up and out of their chairs.
TEXT: TRENT DUNBAR | PHOTOS: TRENT DUNBAR and HILLARY KURLAND | The Freret Street Festival is a one day neighborhood festival in Uptown New Orleans. The main business corridor along six blocks of Freret Street is blocked off to traffic allowing neighborhood residents and visitors to peruse the endless vendors selling everything from vintage records to upcycled art and even fried shrimp on a stick, as well as three stages featuring a variety of local favorites. This year’s lineup included numerous established New Orleans acts as well as a number of up-and-coming young bands from nearby Loyola and Tulane universities.
The first time I saw Stoop Kids was about four years ago at a wild show packed into the Circle Bar. My most vivid memory of that night was everyone in the tiny bar going absolutely berserk during their cover of Blink-182’s “Stay Together for the Kids.”
Although they have finished up with college, their set Saturday afternoon managed to keep the high energy vibes I remember with front man Griffin Dean hopping down off the stage, running around the crowd, and dancing and singing with fans down front. Their songs incorporated multiple genres, covering everything from soul, Latin, funk, noise, and straight ahead rock.
The annual French Quarter Festival kicks off bright and early tomorrow morning, 4/7, with a second line parade through the old city beginning at 10 AM. TVD is happy to report that we are sponsors of the event for the fifth year in a row. Here are our picks for Thursday. The full lineup is here.
Thursday, also known as Locals Day, is packed with talent on the five stages that are up and running. The inimitable Deacon John gets things rockin’ at 11 AM on the Abita Beer stage. Moore is a legend in these parts and he never fails to deliver an outstanding set.
The next time slot is packed with hometown favorites including vocalist John Boutte, Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers, and the Joe Krown Trio featuring Walter “Wolfman” Washington and Russell Batiste. But since French Quarter Fest is a sort of warm up to the Jazz Fest, the granddaddy of local fests, why not check out someone relatively new to the scene?
I would like to say that French music and Francophone culture is making a resurgence in New Orleans, but the fact is it never went away. It just seems like things are getting more French in these parts lately. Sunday, a wide array of musicians will be performing at Café Istanbul for an afternoon of French music, dancing, drinking, and partying from 2 PM until 5 PM.
Some of the musicians scheduled to perform include Helen Gillet, Sarah Quintana, Yegor Romantsov (of Debauche), Alexandra Scott, Albinas and Manon Prizgintas, John Curry (of Blind Texas Marlin and Felix), Micah McKee (of Little Maker), Jeff Pagano, Natalie Mae, and Speed Up the Orchestra.
The party is organized by a company founded by a “Cajun boy and an Alsatian girl,” which is dedicated to promoting Louisiana culture in France and French culture in Louisiana. The event also has partners representing many aspects of French culture in Louisiana including the French Consulate, local French immersion schools, CODOFIL (the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana), and the New Orleans Musicians Clinic.
Mardi Gras Indian music continues to evolve in New Orleans. On Friday, April 1, the latest album of the classic sounds of the streets of New Orleans hits record stores. But TVD has it here first! The album Funk ‘N’ Feathers from Cha Wa features Spy Boy “Honey” Bannister of the Creole Wild West and Spy Boy J’Wan Boudreaux of the Golden Eagles on lead vocals and tambourines. Ben Ellman—the saxophonist of Galactic and a rising star in the world of music production—was behind the board for its recording.
Drummer Joe Gelini, who leads the band with Bannister, is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music and has immersed himself in the music of the black Indians of New Orleans since the first time he saw them on Fat Tuesday. He said, “We have so much respect for the elders who came before us; because of this respect, we wanted to make this record the right way. This meant (only) going into the studio after developing our own interpretation of the music.” His partner in the percussion section is famed Indian drummer, Norwood “Geechie” Johnson.
Geechie has been part of the Mardi Gras Indian world for decades. He played with Bo Dollis’ legendary stage band, the Wild Magnolias, for many years and was a parading member of the tribe. Guitarist John Fohl, late of Dr. John’s band, and pianist Yoshitaka “Z2” Tsuji of Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers are featured on the album.