Satchmo SummerFest 2015 Weekend Picks

Satchmo SummerFest is all about Louis Armstrong—his instruments, his incomparable trumpet playing, and his inimitable vocal stylings. But ace musicians always surrounded him. This year more than ever the annual event has reached out to other instrumentation with performances by guitar players and pianists among the many trumpeters. The full schedule for Saturday is here and Sunday is here.

While Ellis Marsalis, Deacon John and many of the trumpeters on the schedule are certainly well-known musicians, we certainly shouldn’t overlook the other working players especially those on other instruments. Top on my list plays early on Saturday.

Seva Venet is a banjo player, guitarist, and music historian. He has put together a great aggregation which includes nary a horn player. His Storyville String Band reaches back into the first years of the 20th century when jazz was just being born.

Later in the day, Dr. Brice Miller, a trumpeter and newly minted Ph.D., is bringing his latest musical project to the fest. Dubbed Ecirb Müller’s Twisted Dixie, this band, as it’s moniker suggests, takes trad jazz and turns it on its collective ear. He adds modern elements including hip-hop to create something brand new.

Other acts I am excited about on Saturday include the Ella and Louis Tribute band (featuring the criminally under exposed trumpeter Wendell Brunious in the Armstrong role), and Corey Henry’s tribute to the recently deceased Trumpet Black (see yesterday’s post) with his band, the Tremé Funktet.

Sunday starts bright and early (around 11:30 AM) with the annual parade to the festival site from the jazz mass at St. Augustine Church in the Tremé. My colleague Geraldine Wyckoff makes an excellent point in her column about the neighborhood folks who may be left out of the festival because of the new admission price. Here’s hoping some free tickets are made available to the culture bearers.

Sunday’s lineup is strong on both stages, so some choices will have to be made. Kid Merv is one of my favorites and he always brings a solid band along with his joie de vivre.

Shannon Powell is another irrepressible son of Tremé. He’s bringing another strong ensemble and will undoubtedly bring down the house with his incredible drumming and musical approach.

Since the day starts with a parade, I would remiss not to mention the Free Agents Brass Band. As we approach the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the destruction following the federal flood, it’s important to recognize the good that came out of the horrors. This band formed in the wake of the disaster. See you there!

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