Tag Archives: New Orleans

John Mooney & Bluesiana: A Lifetime of the Blues

By: Tim Newby

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Band: John Mooney & Bluesiana (Official Webpage)

Hometown: New Orleans, LA

Members:  John Mooney (guitar), Rene Coman (bass), Kevin O’Day (drums)

Sounds Like: A lifetime of the blues lived in the funk of New Orleans.

For Fans Of: Son House, Professor Longhair, Dr. John Continue reading John Mooney & Bluesiana: A Lifetime of the Blues

Widespread Panic’s Haunting of New Orleans

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Widespread Panic returned to familiar stomping grounds in New Orleans to kick off a 3 night run of shows. The first of which being on Halloween, a holiday that is celebrated by not only children, but fans and the band as well. Past Halloween performances have become well known for their cover songs and the band’s outlandish costumes, some of which have entered the halls of legend. Though expectations were high, the 2013 Halloween show had the crowd buzzing with anticipation and eager to see what tricks and treats the band had in store for them.

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Taking the stage in elaborate costumes,such as Spock (Star Trek), Phil Robertson (Duck Dynasty), Kenny Powers (East Bound and Down), Zombie (The Walking Dead), Grocery Boy, and King Tut, Widespread nodded to the uproarious cheers of the concert goers and began the evening’s festivities. Even from the first notes of “Drinking Muddy Water”, a first time played Yardbirds tune, it was evident that they had their act together and came to get down. Throughout the first set, the momentum never wavered. Songs like “Coconuts”, ” Impossible” and “Bowlegged Woman” stirred the energetic crowd into a frenzy. The show contained multiple highlights, but in the first set there was clearly a tribute for the late great J.J. Cale. The band played, “Devil in Disguise” and the epic crowd pleaser “Cocaine” in homage of the recently departed legend with a vigor that only indicated that there was plenty more on the horizon.

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Following the set break, the band wasted no time as keyboardist JoJo Herman was resurrected from a coffin dressed as “Liberace” as they busted into War’s “Spill the Wine”. The entire crowd was tricked as a crew member took on his prior appearance of Kenny Powers in his place at the keyboards. It was soon after that the band’s love for New Orleans began to ooze into the set list with a number of Crescent City classics. Muddy Water’s “I Got My Mojo Working” truly brought a Cajun feel to evening that was further added to with a massive version of the Widespread original, “Fishwater” and Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Help Me.” It was a mind altering power packed series of performances that gave the night a truly special flavor. Panic even took it so far as to cover, “Ace of Spades,” by Motorhead , not once but twice. The raucous metal song left the crowd mildly bruised and perhaps for a moment, partially deaf. Just before the encore, eluding to the Ace of Spades cover song, singer and vocalist John Bell uttered “That was an encore, these are just additional songs”. The crowd was in high spirits and in full dress as the show ended with three huge tunes, “All Time Low > Suprise Valley > Cream Puff War.” Stunned fans filed out as if a freight train had just blasted through their minds, shattering their minds and leaving them wanting more!

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Honey Island Swamp Band: Cane Sugar

CaneSugarHow can you not love a city like New Orleans, Louisiana when it turns out groups like the Honey Island Swamp Band? For fans of old school Nola bands like The Radiators and The Iguanas and younger jam band fans who have taken to worshipping at the Temple of the Crescent City Music Scene, pick up Cane Sugar for 48 minutes and 4 seconds of bouncing bayou with just that touch of cajun/zydeco to get you dancing.

With four out of five members sharing vocal duties and as proficient on their instruments as these guys are, the HISB constantly fires on all cylinders with this record. Whether the song contains mandolin, pedal steel, harmonica or twangy guitar, each track is a solid piece of songwriting. Aaron Wilkinson gets major kudos for handling vocals, guitar, harmonica and the aforementioned mandolin.

At times sounding like a younger, hungrier Radiators on the swamp soul songs and a few minutes later channeling the spirit of country rock bands like The Outlaws and Poco, HISB  has released a record in Cane Sugar that is reminiscent of some of the great albums by The Mavericks.

Check out the title track, “Never Saw It Comin” and “Prodigal Son” and you will want to check out the Honey Island Swamp Band the next time they play near you.

 

 

I Love The Rain: Dave Jordan

New Orleanian Spreads Americana Wings With Bring Back Red Raspberry

 

By Tom Speed

Dave JordanIn the years following Hurricane Katrina, when New Orleans musician Dave Jordan’s band disbanded and his marriage dissolved, he did what musicians do in such times. He picked up his acoustic guitar. Then the songs came out.

Jordan released his first solo record, These Old Boots, in 2010 and it was something of a departure. Swathed in pedal steel guitar and populated with melancholy, acoustically-rendered tunes, the Americana leanings of These Old Boots stood in contrast to his previous work as the founder/bassist/bandleader of the funk outfit Juice.

These Old Boots was lauded by the local press in New Orleans, and three years later, Jordan’s follow-up, Bring Back Red Raspberry, expands that palette even more with a collection of songs that sample flavors from country, zydeco, and R&B while fleshing out the songs with more instrumentation and a joie de vivre that didn’t exist on the last outing. It’s a culmination many years in the making, but a natural progression for a musician who has been steeped in the sounds of southern Louisiana all his life, and who has been around long enough that he’s no longer just an up-and-comer.

Now an elder statesman of the New Orleans music scene, Jordan finds himself playing the mentor role to musicians a decade younger than he is, much like he learned from Anders Osborne, George Porter and others. It’s a lineage Jordan embraces.

“Very early on in this process I realized that my whole career with Juice, I was always looking up to Porter and Anders and Joe Krown and the older guys,” says Jordan.

But when he coincidentally formed the loose-knit band that plays on Red Raspberry, he recognized that they might be looking up to him in the same way. “I realized early on that I was working with guys the other end of the spectrum now, about a decade younger than me. I really got into that idea. I had kind of cordoned myself off. All those years on the road, I wasn’t here for a lot of these guys coming up. I didn’t get to witness it. I was gone. It was really fun for me, and informative and educational to work with guys that were not in my wheelhouse.”

Fortified

Juice had been part of the local funk scene in the late 1990s and helped bridge the gap between the burgeoning jam band scene and the funk heritage of New Orleans—it was Jordan who personally
Juice_Fortifiedintroduced George Porter to Widespread Panic, for example. Peers of the time included bands like Galactic, All That and Iris May Tango.

Of the group, only Galactic and Juice toured the country relentlessly, each with their own take on classic New Orleans funk music.  Heavily influenced by the Meters and George Porter’s Runnin’ Pardners, Juice always leaned to the R&B side of the funk equation, with Taj Mahal and Bill Withers songs populating their setlists alongside their groove-laden originals. They gained a reputation as a party band and blanketed the Southeast, but also found audiences in Colorado and California eager to soak up their New Orleans vibe.

They released three albums while juggling a rotating lineup.   Their funky debut Fortified came in 2000, followed by the Anders Osborne-produced All Lit Up in 2002. The live collection Juice Live: Hey Buddy! came out in 2005. It was a double disc set that positioned them to reach an even larger audience. Alas, it was released just weeks before Hurricane Katrina hit. Like many New Orleans bands, the members of Juice scattered far and wide in Katrina’s wake, from California and Colorado to Nashville and beyond. Some members didn’t return to the city for years, and though they had about half of a new album in the can, they never quite got back together.

Neighborhood Improvement

Following the dissolution of his band, and the concurrent dissolution of his marriage, Jordan sought out solo gigs wherever he could find them as he adjusted to a single-income household and its attendant bills. One of those gigs was a weekly show at the Banks Street Bar, a neighborhood joint near his home in Mid-City New Orleans.

There, he pulled out his acoustic guitar on Thursday nights and began pouring his heart out with confessional, emotionally wrenching tales. Soon his drummer buddy Andre Bohren, a founding member of Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, would join him along with fiddle player Harry Hardin, also a bandmate of Bohren’s.

The Thursday night gig went from solo to a trio…then sometimes a quartet. Friends dropped in and out from week to week. The makeshift band in the making was joined by Greg “Wolf” Hodges, who like Jordan, was adept at both bass and guitar, which enabled the two to swap instruments as the songs demanded.

The two had met back in the Juice days, when Juice would share bills with Col. Bruce Hampton and the Codetalkers, with whom Hodges was playing bass at the time.

“Me and Wolf made a quick connection,” says Jordan. “Our sense of humor is kind of the same. The connection with Col. Bruce was a focal point. Our music sensibilities are very similar in their diversity. He knows serious country music, rock music.”

These gigs started being billed as “Dave Jordan and the Neighborhood Improvement Association”—a loose-limbed consortium that by definition had no described membership or precise repertoire. Before he knew it, the Thursday night gig at Banks Street had lasted two years.

“It’s a brutal amount of time,” says Jordan. “But a lot grew out of it.”

The most tangible thing that grew out of it is Bring Back Red Raspberry, on which Jordan and his pals incorporate the instrumentation of those weekly gigs with some of the songs forged from them. For some of those songs, Jordan would bring a basic blueprint to the group, and the players would add their own flourishes. Others were later developed in the studio.

“These tunes were written real fast, but I’d write them and then we’d go to Banks Street and they’d flesh themselves out over time,” says Jordan. “Andre and Wolf really developed the songs live. Then we got in the studio and that’s where the other things come in. What [Bill] Machow did with keyboards and accordion in the studio really took it to another level.”

Two-Step

The twin touchstones of Jordan’s musical upbringing were the Meters and the Grateful Dead, and if Juice explored the territory of the former, his latest output channels the more acoustically tinged Printside of the latter, only bringing it to it’s modern conclusion. Several of the selections on Bring Back Blue Raspberry place Jordan not within the context of his forbearers but alongside his contemporaries, and in some somewhat surprising areas. Much of the album fits comfortably into a twangy shuffle that brings to mind Americana stalwarts like Son Volt and Drive-By Truckers moreso than Galactic or their other fellow funksters.

Elsewhere, accordion and fiddle provide a rhythmic foundation that draws on zydeco and Cajun music. Though Jordan may have started out playing jam-based funk music, it’s hard not to soak up one’s surroundings.

“You write the songs and then the songs kind of tell you what they need,” he says. “If a song says, some accordion would sound cool here, you put some accordion on there. I never thought I would end up writing zydeco style music, but it is what it is. To me, it’s just another part of growing up in south Louisiana and being surrounded by music. It’s not something I set out to do. It’s just something absolutely natural for me to do. It’s as easy for me to do that as it is to pick up a bass and play a Meters tune.”

It’s apparent on “By The Side of The Stage,” a breezy mid-tempo tune in which Bohren makes his kit sound like a washboard and Malchow decorates the beat with graceful accordion swaths while Hardin rounds out the melody on fiddle. It’s a true amalgamation—too country to be zydeco, too rock to be country.

In fact, a compelling factor of Bring Back Red Raspberry is the diversity that defies categorization. Classic New Orleans piano tunes (“Biggest Little Shrimp In Town”) stand alongside plaintive ballads like the wispy “She Was Born In April,” alt-country rockers like “Dontcha Come Runnin’” and those zydeco two-steps like “The Waiting Feeling.”  Listening to the record from start to finish brings to mind the experience of walking through the Louisiana Jazz & Heritage Festival: you find your toe tapping in different but congruous ways. But that’s a natural synthesis for someone who spent a lifetime soaking up those sounds.

“I think with this record all the music of my life is coming to a natural juncture,” says Jordan. “I’m into funk, I’m into Dr. John, Tom Petty and the Dead. I think this record shows that. One of the things I’m most proud of with this record and the band really is that we are touching on a lot of bases but we’re not forcing any of it.”

Hubig’s Pie

The album’s title comes from the song “Hubig’s Pie,” a barrelhouse piano tune that humorously proposes the reliably satisfying New Orleans fried pie delicacy as a an antidote for a frustrating relationship. It’s about an appreciation for the simple things in life that pull us through when the trappings and clutter are removed.

It’s the kind of swaying sing-along that likely urges a sense of solidarity among those denizens of the local pub who hung around long enough for last call. Towards the end, Jordan goes off a rant extolling the virtues of the beloved confectionaries. One particular exaltation is to “bring back red raspberry!” in reference to a rare flavor that was discontinued after Hurricane Katrina.

Indeed,  now eight years later, life in New Orleans is still demarcated by Pre-Katrina and Post-Katrina. That things neccesarily changed forever means an instant nostalgia was created.

Sonically, Bring Back Red Raspberry is mostly good time rockers and swaying dance numbers that reveal the culmination of that Louisiana heritage. Thematically, it belies Jordan’s experience too, and beneath the surface it’s not quite as rosy as all that. Years of rugged touring are revealed in Jordan’s gravely voice, and lyrically Red Raspberry touches on themes of regret, betrayal, frustration and yes, nostalgia. But the comforts of the past can sooth the problems of the present, and vice-versa.

“Telluride,” one of the album’s standouts, is a sweeping country road tale of risk and frustrated dreams, at once describing a perilous journey through bad weather and the rigors of eeking out a living as a traveling musician.  Other songs touch on indiscretions and failing while others point to finding hope in the face of frustration.

Kickstarting

Like many independent musicians these days, Jordan turned to the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter to help fund the recording and distribution of the album. But it wasn’t something he was comfortable with at first.

“I didn’t want to do it,” admits Jordan. “ I felt like a beggar. I felt like after years of being able to fund my own records or having record labels, I really didn’t want to go that route. I tried to find outside funding and it never materialized. I had some friends—younger people who are much more savvy with this kind of stuff than I am—told me just do it, it’s gonna work.”

And it did. With a campaign bearing the boastful title “I Am Gonna Make A Killer Record I Promise,” Jordan sought to raise $11,000 to defray the costs of studio time, manufacturing and self-distribution, among other expenses.  Not only did he meet and exceed that goal, he was humbled by the outpouring of support from across the country, a shot in the arm that inspired him to live up to his boastful promise that also included the tagline: “The album will sound like Dr. John, Tom Petty and John Prine met in south Louisiana and had an illegitimate love child. And it was me!”

But the outpouring also helped him put the legacy of Juice into perspective. Many of his Kickstarter backers were friends and fans from around New Orleans. Others were high school buddies he hadn’t seen in 20 years. But others were fans that had been touched by his music during those grueling, relentless tours with Juice.

“It was an overwhelmingly awesome experience,” says Jordan. “Once again, it put the legacy of what Juice did into light. It made me realize that there are people out there that our music has touched and they were willing to support me to make more music. That’s an amazing feeling.”

And while Juice didn’t gain the same momentum as their brethren band Galactic, it’s becoming apparent that they did make an impact on the scene and left a legacy that can’t be considered lightly.

That realization came into even sharper focus with the sudden death of former Juice harmonica player/percussionist/vocalist Jamie Galloway this year. His death received an enormous flood of support and the second line parade and wake at the Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans garnered considerable media coverage. And that caused Jordan to reflect on the band’s history, and maybe resolve to revisit it.

“I think for right now, everyone in Juice has gone through some tumultuous shit in the past six or seven years,” says Jordan. “Be it dealing with Katrina, dealing with divorce, family members having health problems. Dealing with various substance abuse issues, personal health problems. We’ve all hit a few crossroads, very common to the age we are. And none of these things we should look at in a negative way, in a way that we’ve failed on any level.

“We worked as hard as we could for as long as we could,” said Jordan. “I think that Jamie’s death put all that in perspective and we’d all like to finish this record and do some stuff. But take some time and figure it out and not just finish it to finish it. But really figure out what we want to do.”

That reunion may come to light and may not. There will always be problems to deal with, troubles in life. The other members of Juice, like Jordan, have their own outside outlets. But in the meantime Jordan seems to have found his artistic voice, and it’s one that includes insightful songs, a cadre of talented musicians with a wide swath of styles, and when he needs it, nothing more than an acoustic guitar.

 

For more information on Bring Back Red Raspberry, tour dates and more: http://www.davejordanmusic.com

Jazz Fest at Night: Bear Creek Allstars, Dragon Smoke & The Meters

 

The Meters, Bear Creek All-Stars, Dragon Smoke
Various Venues
New Orleans, LA
May 1-5, 2-12

Photographer/Writer: Bob Adamek

The two week binge of musical excess that is Jazz Fest in New Orleans can leave music fans exhausted just from trying to sort out the choices. There are “Super Jams” nightly in the city’s well-worn famous music venues like Tipitina’s, The Howlin’ Wolf, and One Eyed Jack’s and in the clubs along Frenchmen Street. Shows where thrown together bands of the world’s best funk players perform long into the night, and sit-ins can mount into a dozen or more at a single show.

 

The shows:

 

The Original Meters w/ Papa Grows Funk and Rebirth Brass Band- 5/5/12

 

The Howlin’ Wolf hosted a show that’s sure to go down as legend: one of the patriarchal bands of everything funky, the original Meters, played their first club date in over 30 years. There are many influential bands and musicians that have guided R&B, soul and funk for the last 50 years, but number one and two on anybody’s list would surely be James Brown, and the Meters.

Saturday night, May 5 brought back together Art Neville, George Porter Jr., Leo Nocentelli and Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste for what was supposed to be a 90 minute set of vintage funk. It turned into much more, going on for nearly two and a half hours.

After a sizzling set by funk stalwarts Papa Grows Funk, the Meters opened with “Fire On The Bayou,” the crowd singing the chorus loud enough to nearly drown out the band.

Following that was “The Dragon,” and “Cissy Strut” played crisp and close to the script. Something started to happen after that though, as the band seemed to be sucked into what the crowd was already feeling. The group of musicians, so important to so many, were not playing on a big festival stage, but rather in a dark, sweaty bar. It was as though all in the room — band included — had been tossed into a time warp and the feeling was one of genuine goodness.

As they moved into “Cardova,” “Africa” and “Look-ka Py Py,” the songs started to stretch out. Porter moved back and forth across the stage in a leadership role, playing with Leo then back over to play with Art while remaining locked in with Zigaboo; never once losing his “guardian of the groove position.

“Funky Miracle,” “People Say” and “Hey Pocky A-Way“ took on the flavor of nights lost to some 40 years of time… when the Meters carved out a new way to play music by combining funky syncopations with improvisation that made people dance and made musicians want to emulate.

In the end, this was not a toss-off show attended by casual fans looking to check out something fun. It was for the hardcore, for fans that wanted to be a part of something very special.

It was not lost on the leader of the night’s opening act, John Gros, as he said “thank you all for coming to this historical event.” Fans walked around with bewildered expressions, shaking their heads with their friends and saying “wow” to complete strangers.

The final word on the night went to Zigaboo, who came to the mic at center stage to say “I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for coming to a night of geriatric funk. That you all would pack yourselves in here like sardines to help celebrate and keep alive the music we made back in the 60s is a feeling that is hard to express.”

No one that was there will ever forget it.

 

Bear Creek All-Stars @ One Eyed Jack’s- 5/2/12

 

The Bear Creek Music and Art Festival is near and dear to the hearts of so many funk fans and musicians alike, and on Wednesday, May 2, festival founder, Paul Levine of Big IV Productions,  offered a great opportunity for everyone missing their Bear Creek musical family to get together at One Eyed Jack’s in New Orleans for a long night of funky reacquainting.

The band featured George Porter Jr., Eddie Roberts on guitar, Nikki Glaspie on drums, Robert Walter on keys and Trey Anastasio Band horn players, Jennifer Hartswick and Natalie Cressman. Opened with a set from Hartswick’s other half, DJ Wyllys, who recalls the days when Apple had absolutely nothing to do with being a DJ, the billed players merely scratched the surface of the talent that would make appearances throughout the night.

In New Orleans during Jazz Fest nights, there are many high profile gigs going on, and one of them usually winds up being the one that all the top players in town wind up at. On this night, it was One Eyed Jack’s, with virtually all in-town Bear Creek alumnus lighting up the stage at one point or another in a night that managed to serve up the true spirit of Bear Creek, a family of musicians, each taking their turn to play with the best players in their field.

The night got started with records spinning and scratching, courtesy DJ Wyllys, well before midnight. Joined by Cressman and Hartswick on horns, with Jennifer providing some vocals as well, it never stopped evolving from there, as one player after the next joined them on stage. Immediately it was clear that this would be a night that would turn into a full on New York Hustler Ensemble set, smack in the middle of NOLA.

First up was guest Eddie Roberts (New Mastersounds) followed by Dumpstaphunk drummer, Nikki Glaspie. Within about ten minutes of Roberts and Glaspie joining in, the place was packed, dancing as hard as they do under the Spanish moss of Suwannee Music Park each November.

Glaspie drove the band through high-energy instrumentals until she gave up her chair to Jermal Watson who would eventually yield to Terence Higgins. In short, the night became a rotating cast of top-notch players.

Other drummers of the evening were Adam Deitch (Lettuce) and Alan Evans (Soulive). At one point, birthday boy Robert Walter joined Neal Evans, Nigel Hall and Ivan Neville on the same Hammond B-3 organ at the same time, all laughing and loving life.

George Porter Jr. got to the gig at about 2:45 am and the band took the only short pause of the night to get him set up. When they came back, it was a Royal Family affair with Eric Krasno, Neal and Alan Evans plus George, taking on a segue sandwich of Meters classics with “Funky Miracle > I Need More Time > Funky Miracle.”

As fun as all the incarnations of the band were, seeing Soulive with George playing bass was special above and beyond. Other guitar players continued to give the night plenty of life after Krasno’s time, including Will Bernard, Mike Wooten and The Lee Boys’ Roosevelt Collier, who was seemingly everywhere throughout the two weeks of Jazz Fest late nights.

There were plenty of horn players coming in and out and Alecia Chakour came out to sing “Piece Of My Heart” by Janis Joplin, with a little help from Nigel Hall on background vocals.

The night was late, ending a little after 5 a.m., and was oh-so-fabulously funky.

 

Dragon Smoke @ One Eyed Jack’s- 5/5/12

 

Tuesday May 5 marked the 11th year that Stanton Moore, Ivan Neville, Eric Lindell and Robert Mercurio have gotten together as Dragon Smoke for a one-off gig in between Jazz Fest weekends. Ivan said several times through the night how much he appreciates the band and that the fans that pack in every year with little to no advertising.

There are so many well-plugged gigs during Jazz Fest – huge multi band shows – but for a select group of in-the-know music fanatics, Dragon Smoke will always dominate the Tuesday in between festival weekends.

What separates this band from so many other recombined jazz fest bands is the superior vocals of Lindell and Neville. This allows them to draw from the considerable song catalogue of the former, as well as the Meters, Neville Brothers and a host of other classic songs, all backed by the lock down tight rhythm section of Galactic band mates Moore and Mercurio.

Throughout the night, Lindell and Neville alternated singing lead on songs. The band opened with Lindell’s “Country Living,” which blended the distinct voices of Eric and Ivan so well, forecasting what was coming all night.

With all due respect to all of the great players Eric has had in his bands over the years, hearing his songs with these three guys backing him is another level of game all together.

Ivan took the lead next on the 1969 hit from Dyke and the Blazers, “Let A Woman Be A Woman, Let A Man Be A Man.”

The rush of energy that raced toward the stage from the super jacked crowd at the end of every song was tangible, and nothing feeds Stanton Moore like that. As the jams would build, becoming more and more intense, the crowd up front would jump up and down, egging Stanton to leave his seat, which he would, drumming standing up, while bouncing up and down himself.

Along with playing other Lindell hits like “If Love Can’t Find A Way,” the band romped through a couple of Steve Miller hits, “Big Ol’ Jet Airliner” and Ivan’s lead “Fly Like An Eagle” which he took out of War’s “Slippin’ Into Darkness.”

The band is a monster to see, and even though Ivan suggested that their infrequent play together might be what makes them special, this could be a break out band if they put their minds to it. They certainly love playing together.

 

Wrap up

 

New Orleans at night during Jazz Fest makes this the most unique music festival in the country. Great music halls and bars offer a consistent level of amazing musicianship, each show packed with fellow music fans that generate to a palpable level of enthusiasm.

The two week binge of musical excess that is Jazz Fest in New Orleans can leave music fans exhausted just from trying to sort out the choices. There are “Super Jams” nightly in the city’s well-worn famous music venues like Tipitina’s, The Howlin’ Wolf, and One Eyed Jack’s and in the clubs along Frenchmen Street. Shows where thrown together bands of the world’s best funk players perform long into the night, and sit-ins can mount into a dozen or more at a single show.

This is the time of year when the city’s legendary musicians like Stanton Moore, George Porter Jr., Trombone Shorty and Ivan Neville, along with a very familiar cast of out-of-town friends like Eric Krasno, Nigel Hall, Eddie Roberts and Karl Denson, can play at 25 or 30 spots in two weeks. (This year, Big Sam Williams and Roosevelt Collier recorded the most sit-ins.)

The festival itself lasts seven days spread out over two musically-packed weekends which cause a natural high, as if you stepped into a world free from responsibility. After you’ve done it once, you will figure a way to make it happen year after year.

 

Click the thumbnail(s) for more photos from the shows by Bob Adamek

 

 

 

 

VOODOO 2011: A New Orleans Experience

“New Orleans.”  To mutter her name conjures up many thoughts and emotions. She is many things.

She is the place of friendly, flamboyant, blissful action.

She is her people — who work and play together — that fuel her spirit and perpetuate her mystery. 

New Orleans is food-a-plenty; her belly spills over with delicious delicacies of deliberately spicy delights. While her dishes are often imitated elsewhere, the true taste of New Orleans can be found in its quaint houses that have been converted to restaurants as well as in its roadside bistros. 

The people, the food, the atmosphere — yes, New Orleans is many things. But above all, New Orleans is music.

Continue reading VOODOO 2011: A New Orleans Experience

Beyond the Fairgrounds: A look back at Jazz Festival 2011 nights

Trombone Shorty

Funky Meters, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave., Dragon Smoke, Good Enough for Good Times
Various Venues
New Orleans, LA
May 1-7, 2011

Photographer/Writer: Bob Adamek

 

For most of us, music in our home town is a temporary thing; it breezes in late one afternoon then moves on to the next town late that night. This is not true of New Orleans, a place where music lives. But when the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival rolls into the Crescent City, it is enough to make even seasoned New Orleanians do a double take

The city and the festival seem to intuitively know how to make the most of the experience for the thousands of fans that make the pilgrimage for one of music’s greatest fortnights. With the actual festival at the fairgrounds closing down shop at 7:00PM each day, it inherently gives the hardcore music junkies in attendance the  chance to go back to their rooms, grab a shower, food and some rest before being confounded by the amazing smattering of nighttime choices.

By 10:00PM, there’s a full slate of shows in action and by 2:00AM, another wave of the same begins to crest.

NOLA at night during Jazz Fest is a musical smorgasbord that is laid out through the city’s legendary rooms. And it is within these walls that bands recombine into other bands and double and triple bills become the norm.

 

The shows…

 

Funky Meters at Tipitina’s Uptown, 5/1/11


web_517Sunday night featured a band that is credited as being a founding father of funk, the beloved Funky Meters, at one of the band’s birthplaces, Tipitina’s.

After a blistering set from the funky up and coming Khris Royal and Dark Matter, a packed house went wild as Art “Poppa Funk” Neville, George Porter Jr., Brian Stoltz and Russell Batiste Jr. took over the stage.

The band came out of the gate in great form ripping through classics like “Doodle Oop,” “Soul Island” and “Jungle Man.” Art then talked about the surprise of having to change keys in songs as he has gotten older and his inability to sing in the same keys of which he was once able. He did this just before ripping into the Ray Charles classic “What’d I Say” that was followed by a favorite amongst the Meters faithful, “People Say.”

The band was in a great mood, with laughing and joking around being standard thoughout the evening. Russell Batiste took first lead singing duties on “I Got To Get My Name Up In Lights,” a song that his father performed with the Meters on Saturday Night Live in 1977. Russell claimed the song was written by the Meters but made popular by the offshoot band comprised of George Porter, Jr., Brian Stoltz, and Batiste (PBS). This obviously drew huge laughs from the rest of the band. As a set list surprise, the band tore through a Bo Diddley melody and ended the night with the doowop classic “Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight.” With that, the night was complete…for the Funky Meters at least.

 

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue at Tipitina’s Uptown, 5/7/11

 

web_621Trombone Shorty took over Tipitina’s the following Saturday night for a highly charged 2:00AM set. Shorty’s band was as tight as a fist, showing off what has made them a premier ticket throughout the summer festival circuit.

Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and his band of long time friends “Orleans Avenue” worked their way through super funky instrumentals, featuring Shorty’s spectacular work on the trombone, followed up by songs where he can equally tear up a trumpet. But beyond his brass skills, Shorty has also learned to work in shorter pieces which feature his rapidly maturing vocals and managed to get the fans of his year old release Backatown, screaming, hooting and dancing.

The show reached a climax shortly after a nice sit in by Kid Rock’s sax player, Dave McMurray, that led Shorty to break into dance himself, putting on a dazzling of James Brown/Michael Jackson styled dance moves. He then got each member of his band to dance across the stage. Most of these guys can’t dance at all, but were totally committed to the gag, which had the audience and band bursting with laughter

Troy’s band had a ton of fun together and delivered a great show to the late night Tipitina’s faithful.

 

Dragon Smoke at One Eyed Jacks, 5/3/11


web_518This was the tenth straight year that Dragon Smoke has performed a show on the Tuesday between weekend one and two of Jazz Fest. Consisting of Eric Lindell, Galactic’s Stanton Moore and Robert Mercurio and Dumpstaphunk’s Ivan Neville, the lineup gathers each year for a “one-off” for the Jazz Fest faithful.

Each year, it could be easily missed in the mix of the stellar grid that typifies Jazz Fest late night sets, but each year it is entirely sold out.

There was serious anticipation floating around before the set started and the band did not disappoint, running through a varied set list of songs from Eric Lindell, the Meters and some full out covers such as the Neville led Steve Miller’s “Fly Like An Eagle”.

As Ivan and Eric took turns on lead vocals, the back line of Stanton and Robert Mercurio was impossibly tight. Rather than sounding like a throw together jam, the band sounded like a well rehearsed machine. Ivan paused part way through the first set to speak about how truly grateful he was that he and the other three players still made time for each other to do this gig each year with as busy as all these guys are during Jazz Fest and also took the opportunity to express his gratitude for the crowd showing up to enjoy the music alongside of them.

As great as the band was with its core four, the show took on another dimension when Big Sam Williams came on stage, trombone and crazy dancing in tow for “If There Is A Hell Below, We’re All Going To Go” and “Will It Go ‘Round In Circles.” This band with a legitimate A-List front man was something special and even the band could not contain their smiles as Big Sam blew solos and danced around like a man possessed.

The band acted just like old friends should act, laughing, joking, shaking their heads and pointing at each other and the camaraderie didn’t stop there. Rather, they seemed to make a concerted effort to ensure that  the audience felt like they were just as much of a part of the friendship as the folks on stage were. It was camaraderie at its finest and the music that came forth was of a caliber all unto itself.

 

Good Enough For Good Times at The Maison, 5/5/11


web_559Maison on Frenchman St. played host to a show that had a relatively small crowd of people, none of which will ever regret spending the night there. Good Enough For Good Times played a genuine brand of NOLA funk all night.

The band is made up of Galactic band mates and long time friends Robert Mercurio and Jeff Raines on bass and guitar, keyboard/organist Brian Coogan and the remarkable drummer Simon Lott. Together they laid down nothing short of truly badass instrumental New Orleans funk grooves. They covered Galactic’s “Hamp’s Hump,” Booker T and the MG’s “Green Onions” and a host of Meters songs, all of which were familiar to the Frenchmen St. denizens.

The highlights of the night came with a pair of sit-ins; first, Clarence Slaughter on sax, then adding Corey Henry from the Rebirth Brass Band and Galactic on trombone. The combination of the brass aficionados provided a spectacular front line energy to the gig as solos were traded like baseball cards and served as the whipping cream to the crowd and the proverbial spark for the band.

Perhaps it was GEGT who demonstrated best what Jazz Fest at night truly is: Four musicians who are well respected in their own right in their individual bands who also opt to add in others throughout the night, making what was the classic definition of “Super Group” and transforming it into something even greater.

Jazz Fest late nights is a session in musical humility where no artist comes across as feeling superior to another. It is about a collective sound that can only be formed when all parts are equal.

As much as the festival itself, late nights in NOLA make the trip down in May worth so much in regards to a full on musical experience…but it is late night sets in particular that provide the opportunity to see things happen on stage that you may never witness again, sans the Cyndi Lauper sit-in with Arcade Fire at the Fairgrounds.

 

Click the thumbnails to view more photos from the shows by Bob Adamek…