Billy Iuso to celebrate
the Big 5-0 at Tipitina’s Friday night, 1/25

Guitarist, bandleader, and singer/songwriter Billy Iuso has been a fixture in the New Orleans music community for decades. He has played with many of the legends of local scene while at the same time leading his own acclaimed ensembles. On Friday night, the stage at Tipitina’s will feature two sets of music. The first will be his original music with his band, the Restless Natives, and the second set will have guest appearances by many of those said legends playing songs from 1969—the year of his birth.

Iuso’s original music is steeped in New Orleans funk and the improvisational psychedelic rock first defined in the San Francisco scene of the 1960s and led by the Grateful Dead. Thus is makes sense that longtime funksters, drummer Russell Batiste and guitarist Brian Stoltz of the Funky Meters and various other groups are at the top of his guest artist roster.

Iuso, who has been a working musician since his teens, explained his connection to the extended Meters family, “Me and my band, the Brides of Jesus, were the New England guys who opened for them (when they played up north). I almost always had a different drummer so (in conversation with George Porter, Jr. and Art Neville), they said you’ve got to come down to New Orleans, we’ve got lots of drummers.” Within a few years, Iuso planted himself in the city and maintained his connection with the funk legends in various capacities over the years.

Iuso also plays with various Grateful Dead-inspired outfits including the allstar band, the Iko Allstars. Their two drummers, Johnny Vidacovich and Michael Fouquier as well as bassist Reggie Scanlan and guitarists Papa Mali and Mike Doussan are also on the bill.

Iuso recalls, “I started the Iko Allstars back in the late 1990s, it was always a concept I had, but back then you were sometimes shunned as a Deadhead.” We discussed how that has certainly changed in recent years. He said, “What really grabs local musicians (about the music of the Dead) is they saw the fans’ rabid-ness and realized that the main similarity is the improvisational nature of the music. It’s a parallel thing with New Orleans music fans.”

Showtime is 10 PM. Tickets are available here.

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