Our French Quarter Fest picks for Friday, 4/7

PHOTO: MOLLY MALDOVAN | Friday’s schedule more than doubles the number of stages at the French Quarter Festival, but it’s still light compared to the full complement on the weekend. Here are our picks for Friday. The full lineup is here.

One of the reasons Tuba Skinny is one of my favorite trad jazz bands is because they don’t play the same old songs that are popular among many of the groups that populate Frenchmen Street. The group is big; featuring three string players, trumpet, trombone, drums, washboard, and of course the namesake tuba—the classic instrument not the sousaphone most usually seen on New Orleans stages.

They mine old-time jazz and blues for little heard gems and play with authority. They hit at 11:15 AM in Jackson Square—a prestigious stage for some serious up and coming talent.

Debbie Davis performs and sings like a bawdy saloon singer in days of old. She also surrounds herself with an ace cast of musicians in her band, the Mesmerizers. They will be doing an intimate 45-minute set at the Palm Court Café at 1 PM. Look for her husband, Matt Perrine, on string bass and sousaphone and Alex McMurray on guitar.

If you haven’t been reading TVD or following the world music scene in New Orleans over the past few years, you may be unaware that there is a resurgence of Brazilian music happening the city. At the center is the band Chegadão. Led by guitarist Scott Myers, the group is highly danceable and plays many of the classics from that most musical of South American countries.

The WWL-TV Esplanade in the Shade stage by the Old U.S. Mint is a great place to chill out and check out some great tunes during French Quarter Fest. They have two of my favorite bands back to back on Friday afternoon.

Debauche is a self-described Russian Mafia band and they are a hoot. Actually led by a Ukrainian expat on acoustic guitar and vocals and featuring a bearded giant of a man on stand up bass, they put on a high-energy show playing eastern European folk songs about prostitutes, vodka drinking, and gulags.

Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes (pictured at top) follow them at 5:30 PM. The members of the group are hardcore players who have been honing their brand of funky rock for fifteen years. They have a new album out and based on a set at Jamie’s Big Ass Party a couple of weeks back, they are hitting on all cylinders.

Finally, close the day with Corey Henry and the Tremé Funktet. Henry is a mainstay of the brass band community and recently cut back his touring schedule with Galactic to focus on his own project. They will bring the day to a close with some high-energy brass and funk.

Check back tomorrow for weekend picks.

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