Bayou Boogaloo Recap

I just love it when the bands that I recommend sight unseen turn out to be great. I also love it when I run into people at said performances and they tell me that they are there because they read it on TVD. That happened several times this past weekend.

When Debauche hit the stage as a high-energy acoustic band featuring a manic upright bass player and two violins, the questions that were percolating since the Boogaloo schedule was announced hung in my head like too many Stolis on the rocks—is this band really Russian and do they really play Russian mafia music?

The singer, who was shirtless and playing an acoustic guitar, spoke to the crowd with a vague accent. Then a new question immediately emerged—is this a put on?

My buddy Buddha told me that he is really from the Ukraine and they really are playing authentic Russian songs.

Truth be told—it didn’t matter because they are ace musicians and they had the crowd from the get go. By the time one of the violinists climbed up on the bass, the crowd was in a frenzy; slam dancing and going nuts.

On the opposite end of the musical spectrum was trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis’ Sweet Thunder (pictured), a homage to Duke Ellington and William Shakespeare (Duke and Shak). With a killer band featuring his brother Jason on drums, the group delivered a captivating performance that concluded with a superb rendition of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s “Feets Don’t Fail Me Now.”

We arrived earlier on Sunday in order to catch the only out of town band on the bill, Austin, Texas’ own Grupo Fantasma. I saw them a couple of years back at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and this performance equaled the previous one in tone and temperament despite a considerably smaller crowd.

The band has two killer percussionists, a three-piece horn section and a guitarist who provides the most delectable fills. They played a few songs off their latest recording, but it was a blistering Latin version of Talking Heads’ “Burnin’ Down the House” that had everyone talking.

From there we made our way over to the other main stage for a set by Sasha Masakowski and Musical Playground. Sasha and her band have been developing musically right before my very eyes beginning with a series of early evening shows that I attended at the BMC last year.

She has moved on from that gig to regular sets at Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse and the band has really gelled. With James Westfall on keys, Jasen Weaver on upright bass (he also played with Delfeayo on Saturday) and Julian Addison on drums, the Musical Playground is a force to be reckoned with. They play jazz for the 21st century—the past is clearly delineated in the rear review mirror, but all eyes are on the future.

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