Mid City Bayou Boogaloo kicks off tomorrow, 5/19

The fine folks who throw the annual party on Bayou St. John went through the proverbial ringer this year arguing over costs with the city of New Orleans. A compromise was reached and the event will go on as planned as it has every spring since the Hurricane Katrina levee breaks destroyed the Mid City neighborhood and the festival became a harbinger of rebirth. Here’s a look as some of the new bands that are playing. The full schedule is here.

The fest begins at 5 PM on Friday evening with local favorites Tank and the Bangas and legendary funk drummer Zigaboo Modeliste and his Funk Revue. But the band that intrigues me is John the Matyr. They are coming in for the fest from New York and play soul music inspired by James Brown and the other greats. If you’re wondering about their cred, they have opened for the Rebirth Brass Band up north.

On Saturday morning, the Jamaican Me Breakfast Club, a group that could only happen in New Orleans, will open the day. The group mashes up 1980s rock and new wave with reggae. You read that right, and based on recordings on their website and the vid below, they sound great. Though I didn’t realize it when I first heard the band’s name, besides being a pun, it’s a reference to the era-defining Molly Ringwald film.

Another talent coming in from New York is playing Saturday afternoon with a mostly New Orleans band. Nick Balaban and the N’awlstars features Mike Jenner on alto and tenor saxes, J. Walter Hawkes on trombone and ukulele, John Fohl on guitar, Rene Coman on bass, and Doug Belote on drums, with special guest Nate Shaw on organ and backing vocals. The leader plays piano, baritone ukulele, and sings. It should be interesting.

On Sunday, a new New Orleans supergroup, the Holy Warriors, closes out the fest. The band includes Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes, Helen Gillet, James Singleton, Cole Williams, Bill Summers, Matt Hampsey, Calvin Johnson, and Rick Trolsen. The Holy Warriors formed to play the original score of a play by Rob Florence about the nation’s first black Civil War hero, Andre Cailloux, and the only abolitionist priest in the New Orleans archdiocese, Father Claude Pascal Maistre. This also should be very interesting.

Other bands on my radar for the fest that I have seen before and highly recommend include Afrobeat group, Kumasi, New Orleans saxophonist James Martin and his band playing their asses off on funk and New Orleans jazz, saxophonist Calvin Johnson (doing double duty) and his band Chapter Soul, Kettle Black playing more African-inspired music (the kora sounds of Mali), and keyboardist Marco Benevento supporting his latest album of original songs.

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