Billy's best bets for finding New Orleans music
To get us started, here’s five things I think you need to know about New Orleans music.
1. Don't judge a book by its cover. That means you should explore all of the genres of music our city has to offer. You also have to realize that New Orleans artists don’t just perform music, they entertain. You might be surprised at what you discover when you hear a band live as compared to a studio recording.
2. If you are heading out to the live music clubs, "axe" a local. They know where to go. A few suggestions of mine, Maple Leaf, Donna's, Tipitina's, Vaughn's on Thursday, and of course The Sandpiper Lounge.
3. Skip Bourbon Street if you are looking for a great music showcase. No offense to all the players that work down there, but the priorities of bar owners on that street are to sell alcohol first. The musical talent in most instances is an afterthought to the economic needs.
4. The early bird does NOT catch the worm in New Orleans. Unless you are going to a show at the House of Blues or the Arena, don't arrive at 9 p.m. and expect the band to start, or even be in the club yet. New Orleans gigs are traditionally late starting and much later in ending.
5. New Orleans music is a family affair. If you like Art and Aaron, you are probably gonna dig Ian and Ivan. If you like Ellis, you’re gonna dig Delfayo.
HT Interview: Mark Mullins of Bonerama
If you’re a Northeast-based fan of the gobsmackingly excellent Bonerama and its brass-based approach to funk, rock & R&B, October’s your month.
If you had told me 11 years ago when we were first onstage at Tipitina’s in the french quarter that we’d be doing this as Bonerama now, I would have thought you were crazy. I never would have imagined it as what it is now, as far as either the lineup goes or the support from the fans. It’s not only a good bunch of guys but we’re able to connect with the crowd the way we’d never experienced with other bands. It’s something a little bit different. It might seem strange with all the trombones but the bones are our voice.
In New Orleans, there’s music all the time - no shortage of influences or paths - so change has also been part of Bonerama since day one. I think it was our destiny not to be a band like the Radiators - I love playing with them and those guys are my heroes and they’ve had the same lineup for all that time, which is something that’s just unheard of. Us, it was never going to be that way. I’m really happy where it is now.
And the bands play on in New Orleans
Uncle Lionel swims to safety in Katrina's floodwaters
Born on February 1, 1931, Living Legend of Jazz "Uncle " Lionel Batiste has been dancing his way through the French Quarter and Treme neighborhoods of New Orleans for almost eight decades now. Always dapper and dressed to the nines, he shows up at other bands' gigs and innocently steals the show with his dancing, charming the ladies in the audience in the process.
When on stage with his Treme Brass Band, Uncle Lionel's smooth voice takes one by surprise as does his dancing - his strength and agility enable him to squat and hold poses that are impossible for others that are decades younger. Uncle Lionel's moves consist of one part "vogueing" ala 1990's Madonna , two parts tap dancing, with a heavy dose of improvisation.
From funky origins: Porter Batiste Stoltz delights in uprooting a time-honored New Orleans musical tradition.
There’s no escaping the foundation.
With all of its members born and bred in the Crescent City, the trio of Porter Batiste Stoltz will always be rooted in New Orleans’ rich funk tradition.
But since forming as an outgrowth of the Funky Meters some seven years ago, these celebrated former sidemen have been burning up stages with their sweaty, incendiary grooves and wildly eclectic rhythms, proving that there is more to their palette than their renowned pedigree.
David Torkanowsky - Steppin' Out (1988)
New Orleans – It’s said that “the music bubbles up from the cracks in the sidewalks”
In the creation stories of traditional people, anthropologists have a term that describes the center of the proverbial universe. The “axis mundi” is where all life sprang from; where the sacred and the profane meet; the point at which heaven touches earth. In the history of American music, the axis mundi must be the Crescent City….
This will be my first of many posts on the music of Louisiana and New Orleans because it’s too damn vast!! I mean c’mon!! Jazz, blues, cajun, zydeco, soul, hip-hop, mountain/ bluegrass, swamp rock, funk, jam, folk, singer-songwriter, and let’s not forget about brass bands and the Mardi Gras Indians! The culture and music of Louisiana deserves a blog of its own (and I’m sure there are many) but for now, I’m just going to try convey my utter awe of this musical mecca and talk about a few of my faves and then come back to it later.
Panorama Jazz Band
But while the Spotted Cat is gone, the Panorama Jazz Band lives on. They now have 14 years of experience and three CDs under their belt, and the latest album, Come Out Swingin', shows them sounding better than ever. The "rhythm section," which is perhaps an arbitrary distinction in a New Orleans band, consists of banjo, accordion, tuba, and drums, and they make the jazz tunes and odd klezmer rhythms sound equally natural. Schenck is partnered in the "front line" (again, a somewhat meaningless division), by trombone and, for the last couple of years, by the fiery alto sax of Aurora Nealand.
After Katrina, musically rich Treme is shrinking
In the Treme of the past, children's play often involved imitating their elders and making the magic of music. As the children grew older, they were given instruments and training by the adults in Treme. With the loss of so many of the grass roots music makers in New Orleans, one can only wonder how this loss will impact the music of New Orleans.
Juanita Brooks RIP
Brooks came from a musical family, and was still a teenager when she recorded with the mighty Bo. She went on to become a performer on the musical theater stage, in New Orleans and off Broadway. She also spent time as a backing vocalist, and performing live in New Orleans.Listen to selected tracks HERE.
Read the Times-Pic obituary HERE and the Lousiana Weekly version HERE.
Dr John's Gumbo & In the Right Place
Well, ....they don't publish these albums quite this way anymore and I wanted me a little Funk to go with the fun. You certainly can and should go buy both of these albums in their current issues if by some chance you do not already own them. This pair-up disc came from MFSL folks 15 or more years ago - it came on a 24 carat gold plated disc and they used the original masters to make it. If the choice had been mine I would have paired 'In the Right Place' with 'Desitively Bonaroo' and published 'Dr. John's Gumbo' with 'Sun, Moon, and Herbs' but they went for the two best sellers. Gumbo was made with the old guard of New Orleans r & b; Lee Allen, Harold Batiste, Melvin Lastie, Alvin 'Shine' Robinson and more. No question this is a classic.
Spark Still Burns for Iguanas -- Katrina, Music-Biz Ills Haven't Slowed Veteran New Orleans Band
Since returning, Coman has watched as the city has tried to rebuild itself - slowly, but surely.
"Initially, right after it happened, I thought it'd be like 20 years before things were back to normal," he says. "And I'm still of that mind-set. It could go faster. But New Orleans moves at a different pace; it's much more glacial here than anywhere else."
For a city so closely identified with music, the New Orleans live scene has struggled, with the recovery problems compounded by a sagging national economy and slowed tourism. But Coman notes that the value people place on live music is different now as well.
'Instruments Have Come' to a brassy blowout at Tipitina's
nstruments A Comin' is one of the Tipitina's Foundation's four main initiatives, along with the Tipitina's Internship Program, which teaches professionalism, production and performance; a weekly Sunday afternoon student workshop at Tipitina's; and a statewide system of musician co-op offices, including a Lafayette co-op that opened in January.
"Bring 'Em to the Dome" New Orleans Saints Anthem | by Shamarr Allen & Dee-1
Sunpie Barnes' Katrina nightmare
Sunpie can sing, compose, and play the piano accordion and harmonica with equal skill and grace. In his Arkansas delta hometown, his earliest memories are sitting in his father's lap while his father played music, according to Sunpie "it was magic". Most of his family were musicians as were many in his community. Charley Pride would teach Sunpie music in exchange for the then young man mowing the great country singer's lawn.
Freret Street to Become the New Frenchmen
I have been predicting it ever since the City Council authorized the zoning overlay permitting new alcoholic beverage outlets between Jefferson and Napoleon Avenues. Now it appears we are one step closer to redeveloping the area with new businesses catering to the night life. First it was Cure, an upscale cocktail establishment. Now the Box Office, located at 5037 Freret St. near the corner of Soniat St, is presenting live music.
Tony Dagradi - Dreams of Love 1987
This is one of the Astral Project before Astral Project records but at least on this one the name Astral Project is introduced in reference to the rest of the band. Got that? I think that this is also the first recording that includes Steve Masakowski, so in a sense this one too makes a case for being the first Astral Project album. The telepathic rapport that makes AP such a delight was clearly there from the start. The album still features Tony a bit more than the others but plenty of space is given to all. The folks at Rounder did a particularly good job recording Singleton and Vidacovich and keeping them forward in the mix thus giving you a more accurate picture of the band's live sound.