Category Archives: TVD New Orleans

Our Jazz Fest Picks
for Thursday, 5/3

PHOTO: EDDY GUTIERREZ | For years, everyone I know called Thursday at Jazz Fest “Slacker’s Day.” I thought it would stick. Now everyone calls it “Locals’ Day.” Fittingly, the powers that be are now offering two $50 dollar tickets for residents with a Louisiana ID. Here are our picks. The full Thursday schedule is here.

Alex McMurray has been booked early in the day virtually every time he has played at the Jazz Fest going back to the 1990s. His act is always a great way to start the day. Expect to see musicians like drummer Carlo Nuccio and saxophonist Joe Cabral supporting his wry songwriting and stellar guitar playing.

Though Belize isn’t often mentioned as part of the African diaspora, the Garifuna are a cultural group descended from runaway slaves who, like the Maroons in Jamaica, escaped and started their own communities. They retained many of the African influences that were erased elsewhere by forced assimilation. They are represented at Jazz Fest by Santiman and Garifuna Generation.

Big Chief Charles Taylor of the White Cloud Hunters is one of the legends still on the scene. I witnessed this in action hanging out with him at the downtown Super Sunday parade on Orleans Avenue. Every black Indian who walked past made a point of stopping to say hello and get his approval. He hits the Jazz and Heritage stage with his tribe at 1:55 PM.

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TVD Live: Jazz Fest,
The First Weekend,
4/27–4/29

PHOTOS: EDDY GUTIERREZ | The weather could not have been better as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented its 49th edition at the New Orleans Fairgrounds in the heart of the Gentilly neighborhood. Clear skies, mild temperatures, and low humidity greeted festers all three days of the first weekend.

It’s a truism of Jazz Fest that the days get more crowded as the hours progress from the 11 AM opening. This year was no exception as fans streamed in to see Rod Stewart, Jimmy Buffet, David Byrne, and the other headliners.

Since Jazz Fest has something for fans of almost every musical genre, classical and heavy metal/punk being the main exceptions, there is so much music that no single person could even attempt to catch even a small bit of every act. Here are some of my highlights.

David Byrne (pictured above) brought one of the most unusual, interesting, and musical bands to the fest. He had no stage set to speak of—there was nothing on the stage save a bench and a chair that appeared and disappeared as if by slight of hand. All of his musicians wore their instruments and roved around the stage in choreographed routines making the show as much a theatrical performance as a musical one.

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Our Jazz Fest Picks
for the First Weekend, 4/28–4/29

Saturdays are the biggest, most crowded days at the Jazz Fest, so it behooves you to get there early. With Rod Stewart filling in for Aretha Franklin as the main act on the Acura stage there are bound to be as many disappointed festers as there are those happy about seeing the old Brit tear through his deep catalog. Here are our picks. The Saturday schedule is here.

Mardi Gras Indians are always a good way to start the day. The Commanche Hunters are a newer tribe on a cultural scene that has been growing every year since Katrina almost decimated the indigenous black communities of New Orleans.

Take a trip around the fest before heading back to the Jazz and Heritage stage for Big Chief Walter Cook and the Creole Wild West at 1:25 PM. They are the oldest black Indian tribe in New Orleans dating back to the turn of the 20th century.

Or for amazing intergenerational roots rock, head to the Gentilly stage for the Chilluns. Though New Orleans has plenty of intergenerational bands, there are four reasons why the Chilluns are singular among these ensembles. The group hails from three families (Malones, Bohrens, and Clements), features both male and female musicians, doesn’t play jazz or brass band music, and most significantly, rarely performs due to scheduling conflicts.

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Our Jazz Fest Picks
for Day One, 4/27

PHOTO: DENNIS McDONOUGH | Here we go again! It’s time to start figuring out where you’ll be when the gates of the 2018 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival open at 11 AM on Friday. Regular readers know I tend to highlight some of the lesser-known acts for our picks every day. You know where to look if you need to find out about the big acts. The full schedule is here.

Conflicts are inevitable at the Jazz Fest and the opening slot on the first Friday is no exception. Michael Skinkus and Moyuba are a great and spiritual way to start the day on the intimate Jazz and Heritage stage. Skinkus is one of the city’s top percussionists and his group plays the sacred sounds of Afro-Cuban music associated with Santeria religious devotion.

For something a bit more contemporary, New Orleans blues and roots master guitarist Spencer Bohren and the Whippersnappers are just the ticket. This band features the veteran with a young-ish band that includes his son, drummer Andre. World music lovers will also have to make a choice in the 1:30 PM time slot. Local resident and Cuban native Alexey Marti brings his hot band into the Jazz Tent.

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Nolatet’s new LP No Revenge Necessary in stores 4/27

When Nolatet released their debut album Dogs in 2016, many observers assumed it was a one-off project from four very busy musicians. But with this Friday’s release of No Revenge Necessary on Royal Potato Family, which follows a successful national tour and with five dates already set during Jazz Fest, it appears the band is here to stay.

Nolatet features three stalwarts of the New Orleans music scene—drummer Johnny Vidacovich, bassist James Singleton, and vibraphonist/ percussionist Mike Dillon. The pianist Brian Haas is the wild card for New Orleans listeners. Haas, who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico and is the founder the acclaimed experimental jazz trio Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, proves on this recording to be much more than the special guest he sounded like on Dogs.

Haas and Singleton (a prolific creator of music in all of his many projects) each composed four of the nine tracks on No Revenge Necessary. Dillon contributed “Elegant Miss J,” one of the tracks where his touch on the vibraphone demonstrates his ability to shift on a dime and gives Vidacovich a chance to play off the vibes.

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Our French Quarter Fest weekend picks, 4/14–4/15

PHOTO: MOLLY MALDOVAN | The French Quarter Festival expands to twenty-three stages for Saturday and Sunday. There’s more music happening than any one person can even digest, never mind attempt to hear. But your faithful correspondent has spent hours perusing the schedule to find the hidden gems. Here are our picks. The full schedule is here.

The House of Blues Voodoo Garden stage is one of the secret spots at the French Quarter Fest. Shaded and complete with a small dance floor and tables in the back, it’s the perfect spot to beat the heat and the crowds.

End your day there with Sexy Dex and the Fresh. Dexter Gilmore is one of the city’s rising stars; he plays guitar and presents like a future rock god. With a backing vocalist who sings perfect harmony, this band is one to watch.

Of course, if you want to be right in the middle of things, Otra closes out the Tropical Isle stage in Woldenberg Park. Bassist Sam Price leads this top-notch Cuban jazz dance band. They will get the crowd up and moving whether they want to or not.

Since I have highlighted bands that don’t play around all that much on the previous days’ picks, I would be remiss to fail to mention Egg Yolk Jubilee. This band of rocking, brass musicians plays music influenced by the New Orleans canon, but with their own twisted twist.

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Our French Quarter Fest picks for Friday, 4/13

PHOTO: MOLLY MALDOVAN | Don’t let the fact that it’s Friday the 13th scare you away from the French Quarter. The lineup of the neighborhood’s namesake festival just gets better every day. Here are our picks. The full schedule is here.

Kick off the day with Bon Bon Vivant. This band of young gypsy jazz-inspired musicians has been impressing people with their tight musicality and the original songs of Abigail Cosio (pictured at top) since they burst on the scene several years back.

I had a chance to check them out for the first time at an in-store performance at the Louisiana Music Factory and loved their sound, particularly the strong sax work of Jeremy Kelley and the harmony vocals from Cosio’s sister, Glori.

As the day goes on, the festival may start to get crowded. A good place to chill out and listen to the music or dance up an appetite is at the Popeye’s Brass Band stage (presented with OffBeat magazine). The lineup is solid all day but pay attention to the New Orleans Nightcrawlers and Magnetic Ear.

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Our French Quarter Fest picks for Thursday, 4/12

PHOTO: MOLLY MALDOVAN | Festival season gets into full swing with the first weekday concerts leading up to the granddaddy of them all—the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in two weeks. In keeping with French Quarter Festival’s focus on locals and to entice you to take the afternoon off, Thursday’s schedule has some big names packed onto just six stages (the festival expands each day as the weekend progresses.) Here are our picks. The full schedule is here.

Irma Thomas (pictured at top) and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band close out the Abita Beer stage. Thomas has been impressing audiences with her great voice and down home stage persona, which I have it on good authority is not an act, for decades. She’s one of the true legends living among us. Don’t miss her while you have the chance.

Early in the day, I am torn between three of the finest purveyors of traditional New Orleans jazz on the scene today. The Preservation All-Stars features the core group of the band made famous by its namesake institution. The Panorama Jazz Band takes its cues from trad jazz, but the group, led by clarinetist Ben Schenck, takes the music as far afield as Brazil, the Caribbean and even the Balkans. Expect to see saxophonist Aurora Nealand on the bandstand trading lines with Schenck.

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Funk Monkey’s Rollin—Live at the Leaf in stores 4/13, Maple Leaf release party 4/14

This weekend will be a hectic one for music lovers in New Orleans as the French Quarter Festival kicks off on Thursday and continues through Sunday. Our daily picks will be coming later in the week. For one band in particular, the weekend will be especially busy.

Funk Monkey releases their first full-length album, Rollin—Live at the Leaf on Friday and celebrates the release on Saturday night at the Maple Leaf Bar. They are also set to play FQF on Saturday on the Jack Daniels stage at 5:30 PM.

Funk Monkey’s first commercially available product, an EP, appeared in 2014 and set the stage for this latest recording by showcasing the soulful playing of the band’s front men—trombonist Greg Hicks and guitarist Bert Cotton. If those names sound familiar it’s because the two musicians play together in Bonerama. The band also features four other well-known local musicians. Dave Pomerleau is on bass and vocals, Eddie Christmas is on drums, Rik Fletcher is on organ and keys, and Brad Walker plays saxophone.

I was at the show back in July 2017 when the album was recorded and I can tell you the band was on fire. The recording, which was produced by Hicks, Cotton, and storied local producer Tracey Freeman and mixed by Freeman as well, is a pristine document of a great night of music.

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Walter “Wolfman” Washington to debut
My Future is My Past
at Snug Harbor, 4/7

The latest release from New Orleans blues, funk, and R&B legend Walter “Wolfman” Washington is a major departure from his previous work both live and on records. My Future is My Past finds the guitarist and vocalist performing in a mostly solo setting and collaborating with the understated presence of some of the city’s finest musicians. He will debut the material and celebrate the release of the album, scheduled nationally for April 20, on Saturday night at Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro.

For fans of Washington, especially those who relish his light touch on the guitar and emotive vocals on the slower, bluesy songs in his repertoire, this album is a chance to hear what he might sound like if you happened to stumble into his living room while he was working on new arrangements or new tunes. This is not the funky, horn-driven sound fans have loved for decades; it’s an intimate portrait of an artist at the peak of his powers working in an unfamiliar, yet entirely comfortable setting.

Early in his career, Washington provided musical support for one of the greatest balladeers to ever play the blues—the late Johnny Adams. As his guitarist and bandleader Washington never sang with Adams, but he clearly soaked up the great singer’s intonation and phrasing. Evidence of his influence is all over this album.

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TVD Video Premiere: KLYPH, “Eins (Valley)”

PHOTO COURTESY OF KLYPH | KLYPH is the nom du musique of electronic artist and guitarist Cliff Hines. We’re proud to present the debut of his self-directed music video, “Eins (Valley).” Not only did Hines direct the video, he plays all the music, (guitar, vocals, electronics) and mixed and mastered the recording.

On his KLYPH project, Hines uses electronics to transform and layer his guitar into soundscapes, accompanied by analog synths, glitch dance drums, and ominous robotic vocoder vocals. The sound is edgy and mixes dark dance grooves with frightful textures, dreamscapes and otherworldly sounds. The work evokes some of his influences including Nine Inch Nails, Kraftwerk, and My Bloody Valentine.

Hines is a zealous musical polymath whose work spans numerous genres. Well regarded in the New Orleans progressive music scene, he also tours with legendary songstress Rickie Lee Jones, plays with the percussionist Mike Dillon in his namesake band, and is the guitarist/ sound designer for jazz trumpeter Christian Scott’s critically acclaimed, Centennial Trilogy. The work is composed of lots of heavily processed video created in After Effects. The glitchy visuals mirror the cold and manic world created within the song.

KLYPH will perform live at the Dragon’s Den on April 19 and the full, as-yet-titled EP will appear early in the summer via Bubble Bath Records.

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Alana Davis previews Love Again at the Little Gem Saloon, 3/31

Guitarist and bandleader Marc Stone has made a side career bringing singers who haven’t played in a while back into the spotlight. On Saturday night, Alana Davis, one of the leading lights of the folk/pop boom of the late 1990s will make her first appearance in New Orleans in twenty years. She will be playing at the Little Gem Saloon with Stone and his band along with special guests trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis and bassist Reggie Scanlan. The show will be a sneak peak of sorts at her new album, Love Again, which is due in stores in May. It is her first album since 2004.

Davis’ sultry voice and sophisticated sense of melody set her apart from many of her contemporaries right from the beginning of her career. In 1997, she burst on the scene as a neophyte in the music business and was signed out of the blue by Elektra Records.

Her breakout debut, Blame It On Me, was named one the top 5 albums of 1997 by Time magazine and propelled her from a total unknown to a festival headliner with singles in heavy rotation on radio and MTV, a Top 40 hit, and a Grammy nomination.

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French Quarter Festival full schedule is out now, TVD returns as Media Sponsor

For the seventh year in a row, The Vinyl District is a media sponsor of the French Quarter Festival, which is scheduled for April 12–15. The festival continues to grow and attract new talent, boasting the debuts of over 30 artists. Here’s a preview of what’s to come. Stay tuned to TVD for daily previews and reviews.

Of all of the new artists performing for the first time at the fest, I am most excited about Chocolate Milk. This 1970s-era New Orleans R&B/funk band were contemporaries of the Meters and actually released more major label albums than their more famous peers.

Speaking of the Meters, Cyril Neville who provided vocals and percussion for the band during the tail end of their heyday, has a new band called Swamp Funk. The group features a bassist who has a deep pedigree in New Orleans funk. Daryl Johnson was a member of the Neville Brothers during their 1980s period of world domination.

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Soulive’s “Cinematics, Vol. 1” EP in stores
today, 3/23

The genre-smashing groove masters in Soulive are releasing their first collection of new music in six years. The EP, “Cinematics, Vol. 1” is out today on digital and vinyl formats via the trio’s own label, Soulive Music.

The band, which features brothers Alan (drums) and Neal (keys) Evans along with guitarist Eric Krasno, is best known for their infectious blend of soul-jazz, hip-hop, funk, and rock. But “Cinematics, Vol. 1” takes them in a different direction. The group has transformed their sound with five new cuts that evoke film soundtracks, hence the EP’s title.

Though the concept of creating music that comes across like it was created to support a visual medium sounds like it was planned, the band insists it happened organically. They arrived at Alan Evans’ studio without any overarching concept in mind.

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Roosevelt Collier’s Exit 16 in stores Friday, 3/9

The well-known pedal steel guitarist Roosevelt Collier releases his first solo album on Friday. Collier says, “This record is a record about me. It’s telling a story of who I am, where I’m from and where I’m going.”

On the record, which is called Exit 16 after his hometown exit off the Florida turnpike, Collier plays both pedal and lap steel guitars. Bassist Michael League of Snarky Puppy (who also produced the album), drummer JT Thomas, and organist Bobby Sparks join him on the album.

Collier first came to my attention playing with the Lee Boys. Their style of “sacred steel” is a unique tradition of the House of God congregation and features fervently evocative fretwork that evokes the transcendent experience of gospel music through high-energy guitar work.

As a solo performer, Collier is now a sought-after talent both on record and on stage, performing alongside musical luminaries in rock, blues, and pop. Some of his many collaborators include the Allman Brothers, the String Cheese Incident, Buddy Guy, Los Lobos, Robert Randolph, and the Del McCoury Band.

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