Category Archives: TVD New Orleans

John Medeski’s Mad Skillet brings “Invincible Bubble” and eponymous debut to the Republic tomorrow night, 10/1

Ever since the Medeski, Martin and Wood keyboard player’s supergroup featuring New Orleans’ own uber-sousaphonist Kirk Joseph and ace drummer Terence Higgins released their eponymous debut, local fans have been waiting to hear the group play the material live. We get the chance tomorrow night when the band, which also includes stellar guitarist Will Bernard, brings its eclectic sound to the Republic.

Mad Skillet came together like so many other cobbled together bands during the musical madhouse that is the after-hours shows at Jazz Fest. However, this one stuck due to the nearly telepathic interplay between the four members. Each brings unique skills to the equation, where the sum is certainly greater than the equal of its parts.

The connection between the two New York-based musicians and the two New Orleanians goes back to 1999 when Medeski, wearing one of his other hats, produced the Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s album Buck Jump. While Joseph is a founding member of the Dozen, Higgins was one of several drummers who has played with the band over the years and is featured on Buck Jump.

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Bonerama teams with Michael McDonald for Allen Toussaint tribute, “Empty World”

The legendary singer Michael McDonald will be featured on a new song from the horn-driven rock band, Bonerama. The song, “Empty World,” is a tribute to the late great New Orleans icon Allen Toussaint and will be released on October 4 on Basin Street Records.

The lyrics reference a few of Toussaint’s songs, while painting a picture of the kind of person he was and expressing the sadness so many people feel, including the huge numbers of musicians that were influenced by his genius. The song also has an alternate meaning as a dedication to all of lost legends of New Orleans. Check out the promo video for a taste of the new song and pre-order now here.

Bonerama co-founder and songwriter Mark Mullins explains, “I was pretty much devastated when I heard the news of Allen’s passing. His influence on me as a musical hero, arranger, composer, producer is immeasurable.” Mullins penned “Empty World” on the very same day he learned of Toussaint’s passing.

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Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool screening set for the Zeitgeist Theatre, 9/16

World-renowned drummer Brian Blade and New York-based saxophonist Joel Frahm will join some of New Orleans’ finest musicians in a musical tribute to the legendary trumpeter Miles Davis on Monday night. A screening of the acclaimed new documentary, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool will follow the performance. The evening at Zeitgeist Theatre begins at 6:30 PM.

The band also features trumpeter Ashlin Parker, pianist Matt Lemmler, bassist Nathan Lambertson and other guest artists. They will pay homage to the late great trumpeter’s music by bringing to life the atmosphere and mood that made his music so distinctive.

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool is the latest effort from the award-winning Stanley Nelson who also directed The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. HIs latest work has been receiving rave reviews since it was released in August.

The film explores why Davis continues to be a relevant voice in today’s world. It features archival photos and home movies shot by Davis and his colleagues as well as his manuscripts and original paintings. It also includes interviews with a who’s who of famous musicians including Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Carlos Santana, members of The Roots, and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Zeitgeist Theatre is located at 6621 St. Claude Ave. in historic Arabi, Louisiana. Tickets are available here.

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Shake It from The New Mastersounds in stores tomorrow, 9/13

The New Mastersounds, the funk and groove band from Leeds, England with a deep affection for New Orleans music, will release their latest recording, Shake It, on Friday, September 13. The album will be available on vinyl as well as other formats on producer and guitarist Eddie Roberts’ label Color Red.

The new record is a departure from their well-known focus on slinky instrumental grooves. Shake It features a singer, Lamar Williams Jr., the son of late Allman Brothers bassist Lamar Williams, on most of the cuts. Williams brings a powerful presence to his tunes and gives longtime listeners fascinating insights into the band’s perspective through the lyrics.

The band also enlists a horn section featuring Mike Olmos on trumpet, a regular guest who has already appeared on albums such as Renewable Energy and Made For Pleasure, and New Orleans’ own Jason Mingledorff on saxophone and flute. The horns add a lot to the proceedings through compelling solos and strong section work.

While the additional musicians including Williams, Jr. freshen up the band’s signature sound, The New Mastersounds don’t leave fans of the old school jazzy soul in the lurch. The production opens up plenty of space for Eddie Roberts’ sterling guitar work and the punchy organ playing of Joe Tatton.

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The Motet brings
Death or Devotion to
Tipitina’s tonight, 9/5

The Motet, the Colorado-based funk and soul band with deep connections to the New Orleans funk and jam band scene, will return to New Orleans tonight for a show in the support of their latest release, Death or Devotion, at Tipitina’s.

Death or Devotion, which was released earlier this year, is the band’s eighth release and their first since 2016’s Totem.

Drummer Dave Watts formed the Motet in 1998. Though they have experienced some turnover of membership over the years, the band sticks to a musical vision that encompasses funk, soul, and R&B.

The last time I saw them in New Orleans was at a celebration for the seventh anniversary of NOLA Brewing back in March 2016. It was the band’s first time in New Orleans with the new members and they were positively on fire at an outdoor set. One of the highlights was two separate guest appearances by Meters’ guitarist Leo Nocentelli over the course of their long show.

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TVD Live Shots: Satchmo Summerfest, 8/2–8/4

PHOTOS: ARMAND DOUROUX | Rain is always in the forecast during the summer in New Orleans, but the music at the nineteenth annual Satchmo Summerfest went off without a hitch on Friday, August 2. The same couldn’t be said for Saturday. The heavens opened up with severe thunder and lightening towards the end of the set by the New Orleans Classic Big Band forcing the staff to cut the music during the performance by the Doyle Cooper Jazz Band.

On Friday, Cyril Neville (pictured at top) put on a dazzling performance with the young musicians in his son Omari’s band, the Fuel. Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers were their own ebullient selves, led by the singer and trumpeter. His pianist, Yoshitaka “Z2” Tsuji, almost stole the show with his fluid, high-energy solos.

Cooper’s trombonist, Miles Lyons, did double duty performing with The Classic Big Band as well as in the shortened set on Saturday. Joining trumpeter and singer Cooper was saxophonist Oliver Bonie (all pictured below).

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Satchmo Summerfest Weekend Picks, 8/3–8/4

PHOTO: PHILIP DUCAP | The Satchmo Summerfest continually innovates by bringing new talent and new band combinations under the big tent that represents the legacy of the great Louis Armstrong. This weekend is no exception with numerous debut performances and a very special set by a new big band set to celebrate the occasion. Here are our picks. The full schedule is here.

At 12 noon on Saturday the New Orleans Classic Big Band will make its Satchmo SummerFest debut. The group was assembled for the explicit purpose of playing the big band arrangements of the greats from the big band era. They will play arrangements of songs that Louis Armstrong developed for his orchestra in the 1930s.

Trumpeter and vocalist James Williams (pictured at top), an uncanny Armstrong impressionist best known for fronting the traditional jazz band the Swamp Donkeys, will lead the band, which features a bunch of New Orleans a-list musicians. Ricky Ricardi, the curator of the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens, NY will act as MC and provide context for some of the arrangements that are being performed live for the first time.

The Doyle Cooper Jazz Band follows the big band. Cooper is a trumpeter and vocalist who recently participated in a tribute to the late, great Al Hirt at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. He is a music lifer who first appeared in public as a pre-teen and has matriculated through the New Orleans jazz music pipeline.

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Satchmo Summerfest Picks for Friday, 8/2

The Vinyl District is a media sponsor of Satchmo SummerFest for the ninth year in a row. We are proud to support local music. The festival takes place this weekend at the old U.S. Mint at the corner of Esplanade Avenue and Decatur Street. Here are our picks for Friday. The full schedule is here.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band has a new album out that is tearing up the charts. It’s called Tuba to Cuba and it features music the band was inspired to create after visiting and collaborating with musicians on that most musical island. Today, Preservation Brass appears. This is a brass band version of the stage band.

DinosAurchestra is a relatively new traditional jazz band on the scene. However, fans of the genre will certainly recognize some of the members as they hail from some of the best bands in town. Expect to see trumpeter and leader Reid Poole, drummer Simon Lott, Miles Lyons on trombone, and bassist Nathan Lambertson among others.

The last two acts of the day will both be on fire. Cyril Neville (pictured at top) and his family just paid their final respects to the eldest Neville brother, keyboardist, singer, songwriter and all around hip cat Art Neville. Cyril will be appearing making his Satchmo fest debut with his son Omari’s band, The Fuel.

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TVD Premiere: Neal Francis, “This Time”

TVD is proud to premiere the new single from Chicago based rock and soul musician Neal Francis. The song, “This Time,” appears on Francis’ upcoming full-length album, Changes, which arrives in stores on September 20th on Karma Chief Records, a subsidiary of rising soul label Colemine Records.

Francis is a piano player steeped in the history and music of New Orleans. His work has been compared to that of Allen Toussaint and Leon Russell with a healthy dose of Dr. John and other artists from the funk and soul scene back in the day.

A piano prodigy, Francis, who was born Neal Francis O’Hara, broke out as an eighteen-year-old touring Europe with Muddy Waters’ son and backing up other prominent blues artists. In 2012, Francis joined popular instrumental funk band, The Heard. Before long, with Francis calling the shots, The Heard became a national act, touring with Meters’ progeny, the New Mastersounds and New Orleans’ own the Revivalists with appearances at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and other major festivals.

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Art Neville,
An Appreciation

When keyboardist, vocalist, songwriter and bandleader Art Neville passed away on Monday, July 22 at the age of 81, another connection to the glory days of the 1950s R&B scene in New Orleans, as well as to the seminal gestation period of New Orleans funk, joined the greats in the musical hall of fame that is our collective memories.

I never had a chance to see the Meters in their original incarnation, but the band he led beginning with the definitive instrumental “Cissy Strut” in 1968 is arguably his most influential contribution to American music. However, I did see nearly every performance after the band got together again in the early years of the 21st century.

I also saw Neville in various configurations with one or more of the original members and as a guest performer with many of the musicians that are his musical progeny. But it his early performances with the Neville Brothers band, still in their adolescence as a group and long before their march to international fame that are seared into my brain.

Here’s an excerpt from my book, Up Front and Center: New Orleans Music at the End of the 20th Century, which sums up the experience of seeing the Neville Brothers in the sweaty confines of the un air-conditioned first incarnation of Tipitina’s with a special shout out to my editor Alice Horowitz for insisting that I try to put those ineffable experiences into words.

“The music of the Neville Brothers was fresh and novel to many of their listeners. Though they were clearly not the Meters—the vocal harmonies were far beyond what that band was capable of—and despite the presence of Charles Neville and his saxophone, they were not a jazz band either. They played funk derived from the seminal sounds of the Meters, but they also rocked. Screaming electric guitar, not the syncopated rhythm work of Leo Nocentelli in the early Meters, was part of their instrumentation from day one.

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Lakou Mizik + 79rs Gang’s “Iko Kreyòl”
in stores today, 7/19

“Iko Kreyòl,” the first recording from a highly anticipated collaboration between the Haitian band, Lakou Mizik and the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian collective, the 79rs Gang, is available today at digital outlets. The EP features four versions of the New Orleans classic, “Iko, Iko.” The full album, HaitiaNola, arrives in stores on October 25 and will be released on vinyl.

Besides, the Mardi Gras Indians, the song also features higher profile guest artists—Arcade Fire’s Régine Chassagne and Win Butler as well as the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The EP includes the album version of the tune and three alternative mixes.

Numerous other artists have covered the iconic New Orleans song, which was made famous by the Dixie Cups on a record from back in 1964. For this latest retelling, Lakou Mizik and 79rs Gang trade off new verses in Haitian Kreyòl and English that celebrate the latest cultural reunion of Haiti and New Orleans. The connections between these cultures are on full display as the traditional Haitian rara horns mix with the New Orleans second line beat of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

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Motel Radio to preview debut vinyl release at Tipitina’s, 6/21

New Orleans’ own indie rock band Motel Radio will drop Siesta Del Sol on July 12. They’ll give hometown listeners a chance to hear the new music when they open for Dave Jordan and NIA at Tipitina’s on Friday night. It’s a free show that is part of the club’s Foundation Free Fridays series.

I first saw Motel Radio when they played their first show at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. I was struck by their intricate harmonies and great instrumentation as they built melodic guitar lines around a solid 21st century Laurel Canyon sound. Siesta Del Sol is their first full-length release after two well-received EPs. Listen to the debut single below.

The band features Ian Wellman and Winston Triolo on guitars and vocals. They began their songwriting collaboration while attending college in Baton Rouge, where they met Eric Lloyd (drums and vocals) and Andrew Pancamo (bass and vocals) and formed the band in 2014. They  relocated to New Orleans and keyboardist and singer David Hart joined the group shortly thereafter.

Siesta Del Sol was written and recorded with producer and engineer Eric Heigle at Wix Mix Productions and the band’s home studio in New Orleans. The band will kick off a national tour in support of the new album followed by a 5-week summer tour with Summer Salt.

Show time is 10 PM. Doors are at 9 PM.

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Amoebotics from songwriter Greg Schatz
in stores now on vinyl

I have admired the songwriting prowess of pianist and accordionist Greg Schatz since his days with his band, Schatzy. With his latest release, Amoebotics, he has taken the focus of his songs into the realm of science. The album is available on all platforms including on vinyl pressed at our own New Orleans Record Press.

On Amoebotics, Schatz’s trademark rhyming skill and inventive melodies are fully intact, while the subject matter has shifted dramatically from his slice-of-life tunes about romance and living in the city. The songs explore a modern ecosystem specific to Shatz’s idiosyncratic world view, hence the neologism of his title—a portmanteau of “amoeba” and “robotics.”

The lyrics are quite ingenious pointing to a not so distant, mostly already here future where, “machines are making machines and they don’t need me” and “I’m building a robot to take my job building robots.” The lines are exquisitely crafted.

Other songs on the album are about the human body and its relation to the natural world. “The Amoeba” is about a very dangerous bug that vexes city water systems and which made the news recently down in St. Bernard Parish. “The amoeba ate my brain, it doesn’t matter who’s to blame” is just one example of his skill with rhymes.

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Mike Doussan celebrates Yesterday’s Troubles vinyl release tonight at the Maple Leaf Bar, 5/31

Guitarist Mike Doussan will be celebrating the release of his sophomore effort, Yesterday’s Troubles, with a party tonight at the Maple Leaf Bar. A limited number of autographed, green vinyl records are available through his website.

The album is being released on CSB Roxy Music and was produced by Charlie Wooton. Yesterday’s Troubles features a who’s who of local musicians including bassist Wooton, drummer Doug Belote, keyboardist Keiko Komaki, trombonist Mark Mullins, guitarist and cello player Marc Paradis, saxophonist Jeff Watkins, and vocalist Arsene DeLay.

The record is being released on the last day of Mental Health Awareness Month in honor of Doussan’s brother, Brett, who died by suicide in 2014. A portion of the proceeds from the vinyl release will be donated to the Brett Thomas Doussan Foundation.

The release party will feature Doussan on guitar and vocals, Wooton on bass, Komaki on keys, Rurik Nunan on fiddle, Dave Freeson on guitar, and DeLay on backing vocals. Jermal Watson will be on drums. His band, Watson’s Theory, will be kicking off the evening at 8 PM.

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New Soul Finders!
bring classic Eddie Bo
45s to stage at Little
Gem Saloon, 5/31

I have written about the New Soul Finders! a few times in the past. A highlight of their shows is the still-vibrant vocals of the legendary Marilyn Barbarin. She is responsible for some of the hottest and most revered tracks in the New Orleans funk and soul canon as a member of Eddie Bo’s Soul Finders in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They perform on Friday night at the Little Gem Saloon.

An added treat will be the addition of bassist Noah Young and the horn section from Naughty Professor. Since emerging out of Loyola University’s music program, Naughty Professor has crisscrossed the country bringing their unique horn-driven funk to festivals and nightclubs hungry for the latest development in the ever-evolving New Orleans sound.

This will be the second time Naughty Professor as collaborated with the New Soul Finders! in concert. They also provide the slick and soulful horn arrangement for the New soul Finders! upcoming debut single.

Show time is 7:30 PM. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. They are available here.

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