Friday, June 26, 2009

Win Ticket's: 7/8 Rebirth Brass Band @ BB King's

Win tickets to see Rebirth Brass Band at

B.B. King Blues Club & Grill on Wednesday July, 8th!

REBIRTH BRASS BAND is a New Orleans institution. Their signature brand of heavy funk has placed them among the world’s top brass bands and they are the hands-down favorite among the younger generation. ReBirth is committed to upholding the tradition of brass bands while at the same time incorporating modern music into their show.

Wednesday, July 8th

B.B. King Blues Club and Grill

237 West 42 St.

New York, NY 10036

Monday, June 22, 2009

NolaFunk Lagniappe

Treme Troubadour

Trumpeter Kermit Ruffins waxes poetic about life onstage and in his beloved neighborhood

An eclectic spate of loyal fans gather at a Bywater gem called Vaughn’s. Beneath a ceiling strung with Mardi Gras garland and twinkling kermithighres3-copylights, the crowd swells as the night grows, and when the house lights dim and the music starts, this quiet neighborhood bar is transformed into a jump jivin’ joint.

Kermit Ruffins, one of the city’s most treasured trumpeters, has performed at Vaughn’s every Thursday night for the past 15 years. On this evening, Ruffins shakes hands and laughs it up with patrons before the show, dancers boogie between bites of free red beans and rice, and Galactic drummer Stanton Moore turns up and sits in with the band for a couple of songs.

All aboard! Kermit Ruffins sings a classic
All aboard!
Every now and then a song comes along that captures a cosmic essence of this grand, betrayed, beaten-down and timeless town, too long mocked by that idiotic bumper sticker “New Orleans: Proud to Call it Home.” If you own that one peel it off your car. The town was a political wreck before Hurricane Katrina and is now a basket case of democracy under the preening narcissist we still call mayor. So. Let us turn from the data of our third-world governance to the topic at hand, Kermit Ruffins’ new CD, Livin’ a Tremé Life, and more specifically, the sterling fourth cut, “Good Morning, New Orleans” – with the final word pronounced à la Satchmo: Or-leens.

James Booker - Live at Montreux 1978

Last of the European Booker recordings unless someone wants to supply a copy of the Manchester disc to complete the set. This one is from the final visit in 1978 and was recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival. There is a decent video of this performance in circulation that isn't too hard to come by. You'll find most of it on YouTube. This record contains the main body of the Montreuxshow, the remaining cuts are on Mr. Mystery which you will find on this blog in the older posts.

James Booker Live AtMontreux
The James Booker Session

New Orleans Clinic Keeps Music, Musicians Alive

Walk into New Orleans' St. Anna's Episcopal Church and you can attend Mass and share a fellowship meal, both with great musical accompaniment. And - if you visit on a Wednesday - you can see folks getting acupuncture treatments or having their blood pressure checked in a hallway near the church's kitchen.

This weekly treatment center is run by the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic, in cooperation with its many partners - including the church and some local hospitals. The musicians get a paying gig, a free meal and medical attention.

Allen Toussaint rediscovers New Orleans on new album

NPR: Zachary Richard: The Cajun Experience
Zachary Richard

Cajun singer-songwriter Zachary Richard has just released his first English-language album in 15 years, titled Last Kiss.

Born and bred in Louisiana, and best known for his French-language songwriting, Richard is Cajun through and through. After receiving a record deal with Elektra at 21, Richard purchased a Cajun accordion and never looked back. Since the early 1970s, he's been a key player in revitalizing his culture's traditional music, while flavoring his style with rock and New Orleans blues.

Celebrating Ellis Marsalis: Live Last Night


It wasn't easy, but New Orleans jazz pianist and patriarch Ellis Marsalis managed to cram a few words in edgewise as the annual Duke Ellington Jazz Festival drew to an exuberant close at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall last night.

Dubbed "Celebrating a Jazz Master," the sold-out concert found Marsalis surrounded by family and friends onstage, all eager to toast and roast him. The salute was peppered with tunes designed to evoke various aspects of Marsalis's five-decade career and prominently featured musical collaborations with four of his sons.

The Meters, "Rejuvenation" (1974)

The Meters started out as the largely unknown rhythm section behind some of New Orleans' most important R&B records, and eventually became, well ... a largely unknown recording and touring act.

Just why, after listening again to 1974's "Rejuvenation," continues to daze and confuse.

On-the-one R&B combines with a frisky sense of adventure -- the Meters, and Svengali producer Allen Toussaint, layer on fuzzy guitar, afro-shaking polyrhythms and these sizzling soul screams -- to make a perfectly titled groover: "Rejuvenation," which provided this pleasant Monday morning jolt around my house, has lost none of its memorable heart-leaping joy in the intervening 35 years.

Allen Toussaint :: 05.19.09 :: Village Vanguard :: New York, NY

It can be hard to picture oneself basking in the sun at the gaping delta of the Mississippi River way down in New Orleans whilst surrounded by the towering buildings, coarse honks of taxicabs, and thick, ornery accents of New York City.

That's where Allen Toussaint comes in.

Over the course of his lengthy and prestigious career Toussaint has delved into quite a few different kinds of music, but all of it has been unmistakably New Orleans. His latest release and first solo album in over a decade is about as N'Orleans as it gets. Featuring songs by jazz greats such as "Jelly Roll" Morton, Sidney Bechet, Thelonious Monk (quite possibly the coolest name ever) and many more, The Bright Mississippi (released April 21 on Nonesuch) is a rare excursion into jazz territory for the R&B legend - though one unfamiliar with Toussaint's music never would have guessed it after an evening of watching his spry fingers masterfully glide across the keyboard of his Steinway piano.

Branford Marsalis Quartet :: 05.09.09 :: The Jazz Standard :: New York, NY

Branford Marsalis
The music of Branford Marsalis is a bit of an anachronism. Indeed, upon first listen his music sounds more akin to the post-bop and free form jazz artists of the late 1950s and '60s such as John Coltrane or Charles Mingus than any of his contemporaries. But, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Branford and his brothers Delfeayo, Jason and, of course, Wynton Marsalis have helped keep alive one of the greatest ages in the history of jazz that might have otherwise been a mere fossil in contemporary society. I caught a set (one of three that evening) of Marsalis' old school, bare-bones approach to jazz at the glitzy jazz club/upscale restaurant The Jazz Standard on the lower east side of Manhattan.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

In Pictures: Bonerama @ Sullivan Hall

Bonerama @ Sullivan

Mark Mullins & Craig Klein @ Sullivan

Greg Hicks, Mullins & Klein

Bonerama @ Friends @ Sullivan

Frenchy's Live Painting of Bonerama @ Sullivan

Friday, June 19, 2009

Upcoming: Bonerama @ Sullivan Hall Tonight

w/ Brother Joscephus & The Love Revival
Revolution Orchestra

Friday June 19th

Bonerama 10:30pm
Official Website Myspace Youtube

When Bonerama struts onstage with its four-trombone frontline, you can guess it's not quite like any rock 'n' roll band you’ve seen. When they tear into some vintage New Orleans funk, there's no questioning from which city these guys hail. And when those ’bones start ripping into Hendrix and Led Zeppelin licks, all stylistic bets are off.

Even in a city that doesn't play by the rules, New Orleans’ Bonerama is something different. They're not a traditional brass band, but they've got brass to spare-even with no trumpets or saxes in sight. They can evoke vintage funk, classic rock and free improvisation in the same set; maybe even the same song. Bonerama has been repeatedly recognized by Rolling Stone, hailed as “the ultimate in brass balls” (2005) and praised for their "…crushing ensemble riffing, human-feedback shrieks and wah-wah growls" (2007). Bonerama carries the brass-band concept to places unknown; what other brass band could snag an honor for "Best Rock Band" (Big Easy Awards 2007)? As cofounder Mark Mullins puts it, "We thought we could expand what a New Orleans brass band could do. Bands like Dirty Dozen started the ’anything goes' concept, bringing in the guitars and the drumkit and using the sousaphone like a bass guitar. We thought we could push things a little further."
Brother Joscephus & The Love Revival Revolution Orchestra 8:30pm
Brother Joscephus offers the best gospel-style music without the bothersome "subservience to Jesus" part. Throw in a liberal amount of Ray Charles/Al Green/Otis Redding soul and some good ol' roots rock and you've got a perfect stew simmered to porchswing perfection.

Bonerama brings Big Easy brass to Big Apple this Friday (from AM NY)

If it weren’t for the movie “Hope Floats,” the New Orleans brass band Bonerama might never have existed.

Eleven years ago, trombonists Mark Mullins and Craig Klein were members of Harry Connick Jr.’s band. But when the New Orleans jazz crooner began to star in TV shows and films — including the aforementioned 1998 romance with Sandra Bullock — Mullins and Klein found themselves with a lot of spare time.

So the longtime friends formed a trombone-centric funk and rock group, which plays Friday night at Sullivan Hall in Greenwich Village.

Today, Bonerama, which includes three front-line trombonists, is not only one of the most popular brass bands in New Orleans, it is also usually greeted with packed houses in New York, where the band recorded a 2004 live album.

“There’s a New Orleans to New York connection, I don’t know exactly what it is, especially with music,” Mullins said. “There’s a lot of music fans up there that are really tune in with what’s going on with New Orleans, and they really support it.”

Meanwhile, Bonerama seeks to break the stereotype that New Orleans trombonists should be playing jazz. Aside from their lively originals and New Orleans standards, the band has been known to perform covers such as Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” and Led Zeppelin’s “Ocean.”

“I just think it’s an evolution of brass music,” Mullins said. “I would love to take credit for it, but in reality, we’re just playing music we love.”

To help bolster its rock sound, the band has altered its lineup in recent months, adding an organ player and replacing its sousaphonist with a bassist.

“There’s definitely still a brass element, but it’s got a stronger foot in the rock stuff,” Mullins said. “We can lean in that area and dig in that area more than we ever have before.”

Friday, June 12, 2009

NolaFunk Lagniappe

Allen Toussaint's Keys To New Orleans

Web-Only Concert Pick: Allen Toussaint Performs 'Freedom For The Stallion'

Allen Toussaint (300)

Allen Toussaint keeps the New Orleans jazz-piano tradition alive in a concert from the Kennedy Center. New Orleans is not only the cradle of jazz. It's also the birthplace of great jazz piano, dating back to the early 1900s, when Jelly Roll Morton tickled the ivories. Hear three pianists who are keeping upholding that great tradition — Allen Toussaint, Henry Butler and Jon Cleary — onstage at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., with Keys to New Orleans.

Marva Wright: Sharing the Joy of the Blues

Marva Wright’s boisterous vocals have established her as the clearly acknowledged “Blues Queen of New Orleans.” Marva started singing in the church at the age of nine, with her mother providing the accompaniment. Gospel legend Mahalia Jackson was a friend of the family, and Marva put her talents on display primarily for the congregation for decades. It was in church that she learned an early lesson with regard to her singing that she has carried throughout her career.
“When I played my first solo, ‘Just a Closer Walk with Thee,’ one of the deacons in the church was on the front bench,” she recalled. “He told me that I opened my mouth wide, but nothing was coming out of it. From that day, I vowed that I would always sing loudly.”

The Masterful Allen Toussaint & The Bright Mississippi

“Stately” is an adjective I rarely use to describe an album, but it fits Allen Toussaint’s new album, The Bright Mississippi, like a glove. The Bright Mississippi is a special album, demanding multiple listens to truly get the tapestry of American music – Ellington inspired jazz, r&b, Creole, ragtime – that it weaves with such effortless cool. It’s an album that contains the full experience that is life – its joys, sorrows, delights and hardships. That is to say, it's an album with soul.

Toussaint, of course, is an American Treasure; one of the masters of American R&B, a songwriter and producer who has worked with the likes of Dr. John, The Meters, Labelle, Elvis Costello, Solomon Burke, the Band and dozens of other greats. American R&B (and therefore, American music) is practically inconceivable without him.

This will be one of the best albums of the year – go out and get it. It’s not only that they don’t make albums like this anymore – it’s that no one before has ever made one quite like this.

see also: Allen Toussaint Set For Lincoln Center Out Of Doors 8/22

NY Daily News: Skirting the Treme: An insider's guide to New Orleans

Rampart Street, in some ways, is the fault line of New Orleans, separating the French Quarter, filled with well-heeled tourists and spring-breakers, from the Treme, a slightly more foreboding yet just as historic and memorable district.

Skirting the Treme, and further east the Seventh Ward, St. Roch and St. Claude neighborhoods, the adventurous visitor may experience the charm and flirt with the blithe unpredictability that permeates the real New Orleans that many tourists miss.

Community Tied By Strong Threads

The eclectic Threadhead roster features Continental Drifters alumnus Cowsill, jazz/pop/gospel singer John Boutté, singer/songwriters Paul Sanchez and Alex McMurray, genre-crossing trumpeter Shamarr Allen, jazz trombonist/vocalist Glen David Andrews, progressive brass band the New Orleans Nightcrawlers, trombonist Rick Trolsen, and bluesrocker Marc Stone. The company also recently published its first book, Pieces Of Me, collecting Sanchez's cathartically heart-wrenching, touching and funny blog entries about his rough yet rewarding journey back from the post-Hurricane Katrina trauma of losing his home and community.

Stew Called New Orleans”

Although I don’t listen to a whole lot of recorded music, when I find an album of music that I really like, I can get pretty obsessed, & right now I’ve found one that’s so good enough I have to write about it.
I should say the album “found me,” thanks to good blog friend Citizen K. who posted about it here—an excellent review that’s defintiely worth checking out— & then was kind enough to supply me with a copy. It’s called A Stew Called New Orleans (Threadhead Records), & it features the truly amazing vocals of John Boutté, along with vocals & rhythm guitar work by Paul Sanchez, trumpet by Leroy Jones, some exceptional electric guitar work by Todd Duke & bass by Peter Harris.

Michael Arnone's 20th Anniversary Crawfish Festival: New Orleans Comes to New Jersey

Each of the three stages had its own personality. The larger main stage hosted high energy acts that could play to the thousands who pulled up their lawn chairs to hear the powerful groups. A few of the ten bands on this stage included the High and Mighty Brass Band, with its Dirty Dozen/ Rebirth Brass Band stylings, and Papa Grow's Funk, which impressed the audience with its hard driving organ-fueled New Orleans sound. Day two featured Grammy-nominated blues guitarist Tab Benoit who drew thousands to stand and dance in the pit in front of the stage. The energy was palpable as Benoit moved across the stage playing flawless, high energy blues guitar.

BackTalk with James “Sugar Boy” Crawford

Whether you call it “Jock-A-Mo” or Chock-A-Mo” or “Iko-Iko,” it’s one of the greatest of all New Orleans Carnival songs. James “Sugar Boy” Crawford, who recorded the original version in 1953, rarely performs these days, preferring to bask in the glow of his incandescent grandson Davell. “The only place I sing is in church no,” Sugar Boy confesses.

“Jock-A-Mo,” one of a select handful of truly memorable Carnival songs, has had multiple personalities over the decades. Originally recorded in 1953 by James “Sugar Boy” Crawford, it was turned into an international hit over a decade later by a trio of New Orleans teenagers, the Dixie Cups, as “Iko Iko.” Since then, the song has been covered by Willie DeVille, Dr. John, the Neville Brothers, the Bell Stars [their version was in the Academy Award-winning movie Rain Man] and Cyndi Lauper, although none have approached the magnificence of Sugar Boy’s original.

Dr. John: Goin' Back to New Orleans


Rating: 98/100

Mac Rebennack, better known as Dr. John, is a walking, talking compendium of New Orleans music. As session cat, genial tickler of the ivories (organ keys and guitar strings too), gris-gris hoodoo-man, gargle-voiced blues shouter, worldwide rock star, and tireless proponent of all that's Easy—not to mention serious jazz pianist and master of Crescent City r&b—he has lived and largely defined the late 20th Century idea of New Orleans musician. His few solo piano albums are brilliant, and so too many of his slice-of-NOLA releases reinvigorating "funky butt" r&b. Still, in the end it's Mac at the piano that matters most as he takes the whole tradition into his hands every time he sits down at a keyboard.

Sister Gertrude Morgan

Sister Gertrude Morgan (1900-1980) was a preacher, missionary, artist, musician, and poet who worked in New Orleans in the 1960s and '70s, notable primarily for her folk art. She was born in 1900 in Lafayette, Alabama, and moved to Columbus, Georgia at the age of eighteen. She was married to Will Morgan in 1928, but at the age of 38 heard a voice from God telling her to become a street evangelist. She left her family and husband to move to New Orleans, where she organized an orphanage with two other missionaries. God told her to begin painting in 1956 and in 1957 heard a voice telling her that she was the Bride of Christ.

Christian Scott riding superlative horn wave

Like a lot of creative types, trumpeter Christian Scott is hard to stuff into a genre box. First, there's the clear sound of his horn, the one with the oddly angled bell. It's unmistakably part of a grand New Orleans tradition that reaches back to Louis Armstrong: a lone, expressive voice that projects its own personality as much as it does virtuosity. He could easily be playing gigs in the style of traditional New Orleans music or in the post- bop style practiced by another Crescent City hero, Wynton Marsalis.

But Scott prefers to push his trumpet up against walls of cinematic, rockish chords and instrumentation that reminds me more of the European trumpeter Michael Mantler than any of Scott's New Orleans brethren. Listening to his latest studio disc, "Anthem" or last year's "Live at Newport" set indicates that he absorbs a good deal of music and assimilates all of it into his own compositions and approach.

NOPV1 Reviewed by Alex Rawls in Offbeat Magazine!

"By now, it can’t be a surprise that there’s a lot that is subtly smart about the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Like the best traditional jazz, little of what’s special about New Orleans Preservation, Vol. 1 is obvious, but a little contemplation reveals a lot. For instance, it’s not until you get to Walter Payton’s faux-Armstrong vocal on “I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate” that you hear the sort of voice you expect on the album. Otherwise, Clint Maedgen and Mark Braud’s vocals suggest that traditional jazz isn’t just music for tourists and older generations. The inclusion of Jimmie Rodgers’ “Blue Yodel #9” and “Choko Mo Feel No Hey” (minus second line drums) says that traditional jazz is an approach to music, not a narrow library of antique texts. The inclusion of Maedgen’s original “Halloween” implies that the music can handle new songs as well. The pleasures of New Orleans Preservation, Vol. 1 aren’t solely conceptual. The ensemble playing is often wonderful, particularly in the ecstatic conclusion to “Tiger Rag,” where Braud’s trumpet and Charlie Gabriel’s clarinet keep threatening to break away from the band and each other, but never stray for good. On the Hall band’s first album since John Brunious’ passing, it also includes a second line of sorts for him, with “Westlawn Dirge” followed by a joyful “What a Friend” near the end of the album.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bonnaroo 2009 and a few NoLa Artists to Watch for...

c/o Groovescapes

BonnarooUnless you live under a rock, you should be pretty well aware that this weekend (June 11th-14th) marks the gargantuan, musical spectacle Bonnaroo. The brainchild of ex-New Orleans production company, Superfly, over the past 8 years, the annual festival held each June in Manchester, Tennessee has blossomed from a grassroots, jamband gathering to an over-the-top, all-encompassing vacation destination for music lovers and their families. Though ups, downs and the doubling of ticket prices, Bonnaroo has persevered, proving itself to be one of the most successful showcases on the musical landscape. As for me, I’ve been there and done that – and might consider doing it again. If you, your family or your friends are heading out to the fields of Manchester, remember to take a gander at New Orleans acts Galactic (ft Corey Henry & Troy “Tombone” Shorty Andrews), Allen Toussaint, The Knux, MyNameIsJohnMichael and DJ Quickie Mart.