When the great New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint passed away unexpectedly on tour last year, the city mourned in an almost unprecedented way. It seemed nearly everyone had a story about the musical genius (mine is here); a dapper gentlemen who was simultaneously unknowable, yet supremely accessible.
His body of work was in many ways the same as his persona and it turned out he had new recording in the can, which sheds much light on him as a musician and a man. The posthumous release is out today under the direction of producer Joe Henry.
The album is called American Tunes and it comes across as a collection of songs that define a period in American history and a portrait of Toussaint’s influences. It is a solid recording with solo pieces and tunes with backing instrumentation and special guests that was recorded separately over two sessions. It is not a final statement of a long career. Yet, it will be seen as such by many.
Jordan’s new album, No Losers Tonight, is his first billed with the band, reflecting the fact that the ensemble has settled into a consistent lineup featuring Mike Doussan on electric guitar, Andre Bohren on drums, Will Repholz on bass, Chris Plyant on drums, and Harry Hardin on violin. Jordan plays acoustic guitar.
The album was produced by Jeff Watkins, currently the saxophonist with the New Orleans Suspects and James Brown’s last bandleader, and coproduced by Jordan and Doussan. Guitarist Joe Armitage and Doussan contributed to the songwriting. The leader stresses that it is, “very much a group record.”
PHOTO: JIM BROCK | Less than a year after playing another one of their epic, two-set shows, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood returns to Tipitina’s this Thursday night. They are touring in support of their fourth studio album, Anyway You Love, We Know How You Feel, which arrives in stores on July 29 on Robinson’s own Silver Arrow Records.
Robinson may best be known as a southern rocker from his work with the multiple-awarding winning band, the Black Crowes. But since relocating to California his music has veered more toward the loose, improvisational rock made famous by the Grateful Dead and other bands in the San Franciscan diaspora.
The new album was recorded on the side of a mountain overlooking the foggy Pacific Ocean in northern California. The group had spent the previous two years touring relentlessly and road-testing the new songs. The goal was to insure the band was in peak form in order to capture the music the way they sound in concert.
Summer in New Orleans has its advantages. This Friday, Tipitina’s will be opening their doors for free concerts on Friday nights until the first weekend in September. The concerts are part of the non-profit work that the foundation is known for around the state and the country including the Instruments’ A Comin’ benefit, which provides instruments to students, The TIPs intern program, and other projects.
The shows begin at 10 PM and Friday has a great lineup with Good Enough for Good Times and Stoop Kids. Good Enough is an offshoot project of Galactic band members drummer Stanton Moore (pictured at top) and bassist Robert Mercurio.
I saw Stoop Kids for the first time at the Freret Street Festival and this young band of Loyola music grads was entertaining and musically impressive.The series continues in June with the New Orleans Suspects and the Brint Anderson Duo next week and the Honey Island Swamp Band following.
Singer/songwriter and ace guitarist Colin Lake returns to Chickie Wah Wah this Friday night for a performance with his band. The Seattle native moved to New Orleans over eight years ago and set about making a name for himself as a songwriter and guitarist.
His powerful vocal style and soulful touch on the guitar and lap steel owe heavily to countless blues greats, but it’s Lake’s knack for songcraft that sets him apart in that genre. Lake’s latest album, One Thing That’s For Sure, captures the songwriter’s unique musical vision, delivering penetrating lyrics with soul and gritty sincerity.
On the album’s eleven original songs, Lake sings of love and longing, truth and transcendence, hope and struggle. On songs like “I’m Trying to Tell You” and the heavily distorted “Pay the Price,” Lake sings in desperate pleas, reminiscent of a man fighting for his life, while in the chorus of the laid back title track and the sun-soaked refrain of “She’s Mine,” the singer swells with joy as he revels in the spoils of love.
Guitarist and bandleader Marc Stone has become a cottage industry in New Orleans by shining the spotlight back onto old school musicians of all stripes. Every Wednesday in June he is presenting a new version of the seminal New Orleans funk band, the Soul Finders featuring two of the original players at a new music venue on Elysian Fields Avenue.
The Soul Finders were one of many bands led by the late, great piano player/ singer/ songwriter Eddie Bo. Vocalist Marilyn Barbarin and bassist/ vocalist Paul Boudreaux were members of the group, along with another late, great New Orleans master, the drummer James Black.They cut masterpieces like “Hook and Sling,” “Can I Be Your Squeeze,” and “Reborn” on tiny labels like Seven B, Bo Sound, Scram, and Fire Ball in the 1960s. Both Barbarin and Boudreaux are part of the New Soul Finders.
The rest of the band features players who are acolytes of the sound and the musicians. Stone will be playing guitar. He served a very significant musical apprenticeship with Eddie Bo when he first relocated to New Orleans. Tom Worrell, a musical heir to the funky New Orleans piano sounds of the era, who also played with Bo, is on keys. The group is rounded out by drummer Eric Bolivar—a player with deep respect of for the traditions and culture of New Orleans.
PHOTO: DOUG SEYMOUR| Blues vocalist Shemekia Copeland will grace the stage at Chickie Wah Wah on Sunday, May 29 at 8:30 PM. The three-time Grammy nominee is touring in support of her latest Grammy-nominated album, Outskirts of Love. Guitarist Mason Ruffner opens the show.
With a voice that is alternately sultry, assertive, and roaring, Copeland’s wide-open vision of contemporary blues, roots, and soul music showcases the evolution of a passionate artist with a modern musical and lyrical approach. Shemekia Copeland sounds like no one else whether she’s belting out a raucous blues-rocker, firing up a blistering soul-shouter, bringing the spirit to a gospel-fueled R&B rave-up, or digging deep down into a subtle, country-tinged ballad.
In 1998, Copeland burst on the scene at age 18 with her groundbreaking debut, Turn Up the Heat and instantly became a blues superstar. Her follow up, 2000’s Wicked earned Copeland her first Grammy nomination. News outlets across the world took notice as did major figures in the roots and blues worlds. New Orleans’ own Dr. John produced Talking to Strangers in 2002 and Steve Cropper of Booker T and the MGs and countless other projects produced The Soul Truth in 2005.
Following his highly successful Ella Fitzgerald Tribute in January, producer and musician Graham Hawthorne returns to the stage of Chickie Wah Wah with a celebration of the life of the one and only funk and soul superstar, Prince.
The High Standards Orchestra will perform the music for this special show. Originally conceived, organized, and led by Hawthorne as the Harlem Speakeasy Orchestra, the band became an underground sensation in New York City by bringing the great American songbook to life in a fresh and exciting way. Hawthorne is now a resident of New Orleans.
For this show, Hawthorne will present the music of Prince in a unique way using big band arrangements. Expect to hear many of his hits as well as other tunes inspired by the legendary musician.
Festival season continues in New Orleans with the 11th iteration of the Mid City Bayou Boogaloo. Conceived as a way to help the neighborhood recover, which was devastated in the floods following the federal levee failures after Hurricane Katrina, the event is now an eagerly awaited addition to the live music calendar in New Orleans. The full schedule is here.
This year, thanks to a major grant, the festival welcomes some serious heavy hitters in addition to the local bands which are its mainstay. Friday evening culminates with a performance by the legendary reggae band, the Wailers and Saturday concludes with a performance by the Lowrider Band—the founders of the great funk and soul band, War. Local favorite and R&B legend Irma Thomas is also on the bill.
Friday kicks off at 5 PM with a performance by The Quickening. The guitarist Blake Quick leads the band. They play originals and covers with a deft touch hinting at jam band favorites amid New Orleans funk grooves. The band will feature veteran pedal steel player Dave Easley. He led a Grateful Dead cover band, the Heartifacts, back in the day and always adds a great touch to the proceedings.
The Mid-City Bayou Boogoloo takes place this weekend on the scenic banks of Bayou St. John. Chickie Wah Wah, the fine listening establishment on Canal Street in Mid-City, welcomes the return of the Bayou Boogaloo to the neighborhood with three nights of fantastic music presented by Family Fish Productions.
The weekend begins on Thursday, May 19 with a double bill of Chickie Wah Wah regulars. Cellist Helen Gillet opens the evening at 8:30 PM with a solo set featuring her captivating vocals, virtuoso cello work, and her innovative use of loops and pedals to create a unique soundscape. Vibraphonist Mike Dillon follows with his intense vibraphone/ percussion work and jazz-punk musical stylings at 10 PM. He will be joined by several of his musical friends and special guests are expected.
Friday, May 2, vocalist Erica Falls returns to the intimate club with her band led by bassist Donald Ramsey. Falls has one of the most powerful voices the city of New Orleans has ever seen. She is an in-demand studio singer and solo artist and tours with funk band Galactic as their featured vocalist. Her performance begins at 9 PM.