TVD Live: Meschiya
Lake and Earphunk at Lafayette Square, 5/6

PHOTOS: DENNIS McDONOUGH | The weather was as inviting as the previous week, yet somehow the crowds were extremely thin at Lafayette Square Wednesday evening for the weekly concert series, Wednesdays at the Square, presented by the Young Leadership Council. Could it have been the inevitable Jazz Fest hangover? The looks on their sun-darkened faces and the heaviness of their steps suggested some of the crowd might still be recovering.

When vocalist Meschiya Lake and her ace band, the Little Big Horns, hit the stage just after 5 PM there was just a smattering of folks on their feet. But as the group dug into their performance, perhaps mustering a bit of their own post-Jazz Fest energy, a few hardy souls began grooving to the music.

Lake is best known for playing trad jazz standards for a jitterbugging dance audience. But I spotted just one couple cutting the rug. The set list reflected the setting. She aced the jump blues classic, “Chick’s Too Young To Fry.” Jimmy Soul’s 1963 R&B hit, “ If You Want to Be Happy” got a Caribbean-inflected reggae beat complete with a great trombone solo from Charlie Halloran.

But the highlight of the set was a wonderful version of the Mardi Gras Indian prayer song, “Indian Red.” The arrangement Lake and the Little Big Horns put forth was a close reading of Dr. John’s version including the mention of several defunct Indian gangs including the Wild Squatoulas and the Wild Shoshoni Nation.

When Earphunk hit the stage just past 6:30 PM, the crowd had loosened up quite a bit and the area in front of the stage was filled with fans including “The Mom’s section” made up of family members from the exciting prog funk band. Despite logging hundreds of shows on tours taking them to prestigious festivals around the country, the band still flies under the radar of the musical cognoscenti of New Orleans. But for their hardcore fans sporting “Funk This” stickers, this band can do no wrong.

Earphunk 3A

Opening with their best known song, “Sweet Nasty,” the band was hitting on all cylinders from the get go. Lead guitarist Paul Provosty (pictured above) laid down terrific lines. Mark Hempe (pictured below) is listed as simply “guitarist” in the band’s press materials, but his sympathetic lead work created intricate musical interplay as they traded licks in an unprecedented style.

Earphunk 1A

The rhythm section of Michael Matthews on drums, Michael Comeaux on bass, and Christian Galle on keyboards and organ are the key to understanding Earphunk’s complex, yet danceable funk. They lay down a thick and tight foundation.

Earphunk 5A

Earphunk 2A

Despite driving overnight from a gig the previous evening in Austin, the group was on fire. Adding fuel to the flame was special appearances by Joe Tatton of the New Mastersounds on keyboards and New Orleans’s own Khris Royal on saxophone.

Kris Royal 1A

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