We’re raised not to act like know-it-alls, and nothing reminds you that you really don’t know it all like looking at the Jazz Fest cubes. No matter how much of a music maven you are, there’s an act or 20 that you’ve never heard of—a little-known gospel group from Mississippi, a Latin hip-hop combo, an international dance crew or a new funk band that emerged in the last year. Don’t feel bad; we had to look some up, too.
Here’s our guide to the festival—hardly the last word on any of these bands, but hopefully enough to give you a clue of whether or not it’s for you.
Snooks Eaglin 1936-2009
By Jeff Hannusch
The generation that made the defining records in New Orleans’ rhythm and blues became a little smaller when Snooks Eaglin died February 18 from cardiac arrest. He was 73. Eaglin is remembered for his ability to mimic almost any song after a cursory listen and his unique guitar style. His fretting hand often completed chords with his thumb, or he used it to play bass runs that complimented his rhythm and lead playing. Instead of picks, he flailed at the guitar strings with his thumb and fingers. It often appeared that his fingers were bent backwards at a 90 degree angle.“He can play a job with just a drummer and make it sound like a four-piece group,” said the late Earl King in 1987. “I’ve seen Snooks play for years, but I still shake my head every time he picks up the guitar.”
[Danny Barker's] Sacred Songs
“When Danny first approached me, I saw him as someone who was quite cool,” remembers trumpeter Leroy Jones with a smile as he recalls one of his great influences, guitarist, singer, bandleader, writer, teacher, and New Orleans griot Danny Barker. “He was always Mr. Barker to all of us. He was so cool. He had a swing, a sway.” Jones has been thinking about and talking about Danny Barker a lot this year as it is the centennial of Barker’s birth, and he’s been playing several tributes to him including the one in the Economy Hall tent at Jazz Fest. Jones was the charter member of the Fairview Baptist Church Band in 1971, the band that Barker formed at the request of Fairview Baptist Church pastor, Reverend Andrew Darby. The Fairview Baptist Church Band may be the most influential New Orleans band of the last 40 years as much of what is brass band music today comes from the players and concept of that band.
Survival of the fittest
New Orleans's grandest festival happy to hit 40
Officially, it's called the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Presented by Shell, but bebop traditions only begin to tell its story.
It's a multicultural swirl of music, food, crafts, and discovery, from the street-savvy energy of its brass bands and second-line parades to elegant Cajun two-steps and funky testifying in the Gospel Tent. This year marks Jazz Fest's 40th annual pageant of Louisiana music and its bayou, African, and Caribbean heritage. From April 24 through May 4, over two weekends, 11 stages at the city's massive
Fair GroundsRace Course will again pump out the music of 400-plus bands to a half million or so fans.
CD Review: Allen Toussaint, “The Bright Mississippi”
If I were Allen Toussaint, I’d have taken a decade’s hiatus from making solo records, too. While the great New Orleans pianist—right up there on the city’s piano Mount Rushmore with Professor Longhair, James Booker, and Dr. John—got his Rock Hall induction in 1998, the jackasses up there in Cleveland put him in as a non-performer.
Sure, the guy helped the Meters become the Booker T & the MGs of the Crescent City and a national funk power in the 1970s. He wrote some great pop songs that others took to great heights, such as “Working in the Coal Mine” and “Southern Nights.” But the offhand dismissal Toussaint’s of recorded work must have felt like a hard slap, the equivalent of calling Prince a non-performer on the merits of sponsoring Apollonia 6 and writing “Nothing Compares 2 U” for Sinead O’Connor and “Manic Monday” for the Bangles. Bunch of ig’nant losers, those Rock Hall powers that be. Mojo wept.
Making It Hard To Forget the Big Easy
The annual New Orleans extravaganza known as Jazzfest kicks off this weekend. Today: how the city's musicians are struggling to stay in the spotlight, four years after Hurricane Katrina put them on the national stage.
Cosimo's Classics from J & M Studio
The second volume of original hits from the first golden age of New Orleans R & B. Each one of these is the original single from Cosimo Matassa's J & M Studio on Rampart Street and most come from the metal masters. The studio is now a washateria (laundrymat to the rest of you) but there is still a sign up on the wall - I'll post a picture one of these days. This is some rare gold and makes a marvelous party mix.
Coco Robicheaux - Louisiana Medicine Man
Seems like the Spiritland post was a hit so I'll put this one up as well. Coco's 1998 Louisiana Medicine Man is also out of print now. This is a bookend album to Spiritland with pretty much the same band.
see also: Coco Robicheaux - Spiritland
I think you will forgive me for not making up a cover or re-ripping to a higher standard when you look closely - these are all the originals and all from the best sources available - most from the metal masters (don't ask, I won't tell you, just enjoy) I have a second volume of these which I'll post soon - it takes a lot of typing to post these things and I promise you won't ever see it anywhere else.
DAY ONE DAY TWO DAY THREE
With all of its noise and fraternity-like atmosphere, there still remains a little slice of jazz heaven on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Fritzel's European Jazz Pub is one of city's premiere clubs featuring traditional jazz seven nights a week. It is small, intimate and usually lined with local and international jazz fans who have come to the 700 block of Bourbon Street to hear the music they love. The music is upbeat, the cheering is raucous, and it would be hard to spend an evening in the club and not have a great time.
Eddie Bo Remembered
Edwin Joseph Bocage, Sr. (a.k.a. Eddie Bo). The visionary Crescent City piano player had a 1962 hit with "Check Mr Popeye," updated by Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. Little Richard recorded Bo's "Slippin' and Slidin' and Etta James had a hit with Bo's "Dearest Darling." His sense of wordplay in tunes like "Pass the Hatchet" are a precursor to hip-hop.
NOLA: Rebuild ... and Remember
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, better known as Jazzfest, kicks off this week. We find out if music from that city risks being forgotten almost four years after Hurricane Katrina. We talk with jazz critic Larry Blumenfeld and the New Orleans percussionist and vocalist Cyril Neville.
Ole & Nu Style Fellas Social & Pleasure Club Second Line Parade
Ole & Nu Style Fellas Social & Pleasure Club second line featuring the Hot 8 Brass Band
Great Music and Dancing, Worrisome Thoughts and Feelings
The Pigeon Town Steppers hosted their annual Easter Sunday Second Line Parade. Check it out at the 1:30 mark for some truly extraordinary buckjumping - the man is on fire!
SomethingElseInterview: Jazz pianist Marcus Roberts Marcus Roberts has burst back onto the jazz landscape, 11 years after his last sesson, with “New Orleans Meets Harlem, Vol. 1” – one of the Florida-born pianist’s most celebrated recordings. A rich and explorative combining of styles from across the legacy, Roberts’ record nevertheless retains its uniquely Southern voice with notable assists from longtime playing partners Roland Guerin on bass and Jason Marsalis at the drums.
SomethingElseTribute: Louisiana roots legend Jesse Thomas
On his old records, Jesse "Baby Face" Thomas is a whispering recollection of all that is desired and feared, of human longing. And he's a darn fine picker, too.