Monday, December 21, 2009

Frank Zappa's Birthday celebrated



Mayor Sheila Dixon issued a proclamation today declaring December 21, 2009, as "Frank Zappa Day" in Baltimore.

Meanwhile, Baltimore's Southeast Anchor Library has been designated as the installation site for a replica of the Vilnian bust of Frank Zappa, which will allow fans, residents, and visitors to pay tribute to him in the city of his birth. Vaulternative Records released Frank Zappa's 'Philly '76' today, a thrilling double CD concert recording.

Zappa was born in Baltimore on December 21, 1940.

For full text of the mayor's proclamation, please go to:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Landmark hosts Pranksters sendoff

The Landmark music bar in Yachats, Oregon will summon up the spirits of Kesey, Kerouac, Ginsberg and Leary in one final weekend blowout to end the Disaster Decade, as the OO's will come to be known.

From Thursday, Dec. 31 thru Saturday, Jan. 2 the Landmark will present the Merry Prankster New Year's Eve Party Weekend with the Rose Bowl Art Show, music Thursday and Saturday ay 9 p.m. Art at ll:30 a.m., football at 2 p.m. Friday




The Kesey Karnival comes to the Koast to kick 2009 out of town

For those who have forgotten the '60s, the Merry Pranksters were born on a bus trip from Eugene to New York in 1964, a ride intended to celebrate the publication of Ken Kesey's book "Sometimes a Great Notion" and to meet and greet the great Doctor Timothy Leary. The bus trip is the subject of Tom Wolfe's "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test," and led to the psychedelic scene and the rise of the Grateful Dead. Kesey, who had a summer home just outside Yachats, died in 2001 but his family and friends have kept his spirit and philosophy alive through (among other things) the replica bus FURTHUR 2 and the Normal Bean Show. We get the full-out, pranksterized version of the latter on the last day of 2009. On Friday, New Year's Day, the Poets, freaks and football fans mingle through the area of the stage and the Ducks vs. Buckeye mayhem. It's back to the music Saturday night, with a special edition of the Lost Creek Gang, including the horn playing of Ken Babbs, Kesey's longtime pal. Watch for Ginsberg in the crowd.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Jazz Fest announces lineup

Pearl Jam, Aretha Franklin, Artist TBA, Van Morrison, Lionel Richie,
The Neville Brothers, Allman Brothers Band, Anita Baker,
My Morning Jacket, Darius Rucker, Widespread Panic
Among Hundreds Scheduled to Appear
at 41st Jazz & Heritage Festival

New Orleans, LA (December 15, 2009)—The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival announced the music lineup for the 2010 Festival scheduled for April 23-25 & April 29-May 2. A true heritage festival, Jazz Fest stands alone in presenting the highest caliber artists in such varied genres as gospel, blues, traditional and contemporary jazz, rock, R&B, Cajun, country, zydeco and much more.

Some of the many highlights of the 41st edition of the Jazz & Heritage Festival include Pearl Jam’s Jazz Fest debut, Aretha Franklin’s much-anticipated return, Louis Prima’s 100th anniversary celebration featuring Keely Smith, along with one major artist to be added to the lineup soon. First-time Festival appearances by My Morning Jacket, Anita Baker, Jeff Beck, Gipsy Kings, The Dead Weather, The Levon Helm Band, Drake, Johnny Lang and others are also set. Returning Fest favorites for 2010 include Van Morrison, Lionel Richie, Allman Brothers Band, Widespread Panic, The Black Crowes, and B.B. King. Of course, legendary local Louisiana artists such as the Neville Brothers, Irma Thomas, Pete Fountain, Dr. John, Galactic, Juvenile & DJ Mannie Fresh, Trombone Shorty, Dixie Cups, Buckwheat Zydeco, Zion Harmonizers, Better Than Ezra, The Radiators and hundreds more round out the “Only at Jazz Fest” schedule:

The Neville Brothers, Pearl Jam, Artist TBA, Aretha Franklin, Van Morrison, Lionel Richie, Allman Brothers Band, Anita Baker, My Morning Jacket, Widespread Panic, Imagination Movers, B.B. King, Jeff Beck, Darius Rucker, Irma Thomas, Gipsy Kings, The Dead Weather, Elvis Costello & the Sugarcanes, The Black Crowes, Drake, Teena Marie, Keely Smith, Johnny Lang, Allen Toussaint, Band of Horses, Jose Feliciano, The Levon Helm Band, Baaba Maal, George Clinton & Parliament / Funkadelic, Steve Martin with the Steep Canyon Rangers, Average White Band, Dr. John, Maze feat. Frankie Beverly, Pete Fountain, Kirk Franklin, Steel Pulse, Wayne Shorter Quartet, Gov’t Mule, Clarence Carter, Juvenile & DJ Mannie Fresh, King Sunny Ade & His African Beats, Ledisi, Take Six, Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Band, Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players, Marcia Ball, Galactic, Sax for Stax feat. Gerald Albright, Jeff Lorber, and Kirk Whalum, Gil Scott Heron, Shawn Colvin, Old Crow Medicine Show, Richie Havens, Pastor Smokie Norful, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Elvin Bishop, The Radiators, Chocolate Milk, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Cowboy Mouth, funky Meters, Anders Osborne, Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers, Rebirth Brass Band, Blues Traveler, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Elvis Perkins in Dearland, Martin Sexton, Bernard Allison, Tye Tribbett, Marcus Miller, Stanley Clarke Band feat. Hiromi, Campbell Brothers, Better Than Ezra, Sam Bush, Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars, Voice of the Wetlands Allstars, Joe Lovano Us Five, Ruthie Foster, Jimmy Johnson, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Sonny Landreth, Preservation Hall Jazz Band with special guests, Dala, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Donald Harrison, Terence Blanchard, Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band, Dee Dee Bridgewater – A Celebration of Lady Day, Davell Crawford & One Foot in the Blues w/ special guests Jon Cleary and Dr. John, Tributes To Louis Prima feat. Louis Prima, Jr, Lena Prima, and Bobby Lonero, Jewel Brown and the Heritage Hall Band, Selvy Singers of Arkansas, The Inspirational Souls of Chicago, Aaron Neville, and hundreds more are scheduled to appear at the event.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Camile Baudoin at Snug Harbor tonight!

When I previewed this interesting performance for OffBeat magazine one of my favorite New Orleans musicians, trumpeter Charlie Miller, was scheduled to be part of the project. I was looking forward to hearing Miller play "Beer Barrel Polka" but with Harry Hardin replacing him on the gig the instrumentation reverts to a string format with percussion, which should work well on the acoustic material.

Radiators guitarist Camile Baudoin sets out to capture the relaxed music from his early years on Thursday, Dec. 10 at Snug Harbor. Camile will be accompanied by fellow axe-man John Rankin, violinist Harry Hardin and Michael Skinkus on percussion. The set list reflects the songs sung around the family’s living room as well as tunes he played with his uncles’ band, The Dufrene Brothers, in clubs along Bayou Lafourche.

The show, which will be recorded for Camile’s upcoming solo album, is dedicated to his paran Alton Dufrene, who taught Camile how to "play what you feel," and who turns 89 on December 18. The set list includes hit standards from the era, an original or two (test your Cajun French!), and the rare "Old Bayou Blues," penned by Baudoin's cousin Rosalie Toups. The recording project is supported in part by a grant from the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation.

Shows at 8 and 10 pm, $15 admission.

Call Snug Harbor at 504-949-0696 to reserve advance tickets or head to the club at 626 Frenchmen. Arrive early for best seating.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mississppi Sheiks Tribute announced

This is a show that should be at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. It will be held instead in Vancouver, British Columbia. I guess Jazzfest minds are too busy trying to find the successor to Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Bon Jovi.

VANCOUVER, BC – A host of major blues and roots music artists will gather to perform two nights of special tribute concerts saluting the music of the seminal American band, The Mississippi Sheiks, on March 13 and 14 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Presented by the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad in partnership with Capilano University, the two nights will include already-confirmed performances by Grammy-nominee John Hammond, Van Dyke Parks, Geoff Muldaur, Danny Barnes, Jim Byrnes, Steve Dawson, Robin Holcomb, Oh Susanna and The Sojourners. Additional artists are expected to be announced. The all-star band backing up these artists for the shows will be Matt Chamberlain – drums; Keith Lowe – bass; Wayne Horvitz – keyboards; Steve Dawson – guitars; and Daniel Lapp – fiddle.

The Mississippi Sheiks Tribute Concerts will be the last event for the Cultural Olympiad, the arts festival that takes place in conjunction with the 2010 Winter Olympic Games to be held in Vancouver on February 12-28, and followed by the Paralympic Winter Games on March 12-21.

Black Hen Music president/producer/musician Steve Dawson is leading the charge to reintroduce the music of The Mississippi Sheiks to contemporary audiences. In October, the Juno Award-winning producer released Things About Comin’ My Way, the critically-acclaimed tribute album with recordings by 17 world-renowned artists, many of whom will play live at these world premiere events. Things About Comin’ My Way was just nominated for a Blues Music Award as “Acoustic Album of the Year” by the Blues Foundation in Memphis.

The Mississippi Sheiks, a country and blues string band, has been called the Radiohead of its era, recording over 60 hugely influential songs between 1930 and 1935. Walter Vinson and Sam Chatmon formed the core of the band, with Sam’s two brothers, Lonnie and Armenter “Bo Carter” Chatmon, dropping in when they were in town. The group had a blockbuster hit with “Sittin’ On Top of the World,” which has since been covered by Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Cream, The Grateful Dead and dozens of others.

The Sheiks practically invented the string band concept in blues and roots music, but when the group disbanded, the Chatmon brothers returned to farming. Bo Carter, for one, died blind and destitute in 1964. At the peak of their popularity, however, they were enormously popular and even received a personal invitation to perform for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

More on Bon Jovi

Horseracing handicappers look at more than just past performances. Trainer patterns are particularly significant, and sometimes even owner patterns can tell an interesting story. Churchill Downs Inc., the owner of Fair Grounds Racecourse, delivered a particularly interesting "tell" last week by announcing that Bon Jovi would headline its coming music festival at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. In New Orleans the Fair Grounds has an extremely lucrative relationship with the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, namely proceeds from the beer concession. Horsemen are ambivelant about the music fest -- training must be concluded immediately after the meet ends in late March as the track is prepared for the festival crowds. But Churchill Downs Inc. saw more than a horseracing facility and casino gambling palace when it bought Fair Grounds -- it had its eye on the success of Jazz Fest as well. Now it's running a competing festival at Churchill Downs, naming the festival after the racetrack's brand and apparently using Jazz Fest as advance billing for its headlining act. Bon Jovi's inclusion on the last Jazzfest lineup was a glaring red herring in the mix of acts -- a mainstream rock band with zero connection to New Orleans music or any of its tributaries -- and the group brought out a mass of fans that to put it mildly were unschooled in New Orleans music. The Bon Jovi crowd booed Dr. John during his Jazzfest set as fans pushed toward the stage for a good view of Mr. Bon. So now we have a better idea of how Bon Jovi became one of the headliners of the 40th anniversary of the New orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Nice to know we are now a subsidiary of the Churchill Downs Fesival season. I wonder what wonderful branding tie-ins we can expect at future Jazzfests?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mardi Gras Indian Orchestra

That wasn't Squanto celebrating Thanksgiving with the settlers at the Hi Ho Lounge. It was several Mardi Gras Indians, without the feathers, singing and chanting their folk tales of New Orleans with an outstanding band of musical supporters. Friday night they came back and did it again. The smaller crowd saw an even better throwdown, with Sunpie Barnes taking several outstanding vocal turns and Reggie Scanlan on bass and Camile Baudoin on guitar really distinguishing themselves. Sunpie's tale of Shotgun Joe's demise started things off at an outstanding level and the evening just went on from there. The event was recorded and will eventually see the light of day as a full length album, but WWOZ may well use parts of it for fundraising purposes in the future.

Monday, November 9, 2009

David S. Ware on NBC website

David S. Ware, the outstanding jazz musician who is back to performing after receiving a kidney transplant, is the subject of feature story on the NBC Nightly News website. There is live footage from his recent Abrons Arts Center performance fully incorporated as well.

For right now, it is listed at the top of the ‘Latest Program’ list (click on this link to increase the front page view count!):

For future reference, here is the link direct to the story:

Bryan Lee hospitalized with staph infection

Louisiana guitarist Bryan Lee is gravely ill with a staph infection "and his oxygen levels are critically low" according to a friend who posted the information on a blues message board.

Mirliton turns into Bywater Altamont

Ratty Scurvics got things going in fine style at what was billed as the 20th Mirliton festival. The Markey Park event took place in perfect weather and drew a large but manageable crowd including a lot of kids and a growing number of politicians. Jackie Clarkson seems intent on policing this crowd personally each year but unfortunatly she left before the fisticuffs broke out. You know she would have landed a sucker punch on somebody in the fracas. Hurray for the Riff Raff started out a little slow but ended up winning over the crowd with its strong songwriting and vocals. Guitar Lightning Lee tore it up in anticipation of his Saturday night throwdown at Melvin's, then hung out on his motorcycle to catch the R. Scully Rough 7 which did not disappoint a suddenly animated crowd. With Ratty back on keyboards Scully took no prisoners. Happy Talk band was even better with Luke Allen singing and playing guitar, Alex McMurray on electric guitar, Helen Gillet on cello and Mark Bingham on bass. McMurray and Gillet challenged each other with magnificent virtuoso turns and things got so hot that toward the end of the set some loon charged through the crowd yelling "Stop it!" Stop it!" When he reached the front of the stage, hands waving in the air, he apparently said something about Alex McMurray's mother because McMurray charged off the stage after him. Bingham, looking extra mad, dove immediately into the fracas. The whole exchange almost seemed like it was the opening act of the Fringe Festival but the guy did get thrown out so I guess it was all real. "I think he objected to Alex writhing around on the stage" observed Bingham. If Jazzfest 40 was Woodstock 40 redux, this was the Bywater Altamont. Fortunately DJ Jubilee was up next to chill everybody out before McMurray re-introduced the mayhem leading the Valparaiso Men's Chorus with Schatzy on accordion, Matt Perrine on sousaphone and a "chorus" of up to 20 men and Jonathan Freilich singing famous sea chanties such as "Give Me Some Time to Back That Ass Up." Mirliton executives rewarded the crowd by offering free beer toward the end of the set, which could have turned into another riot except they ran out and everyone when over to Markey's for another drink.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Under a Voodoo moon

Voodoo Fest was very enjoyable, the best rock festival going if you ask me. Of all the stuff I saw the most impressive moments were delivered by Down -- what a band! -- and George Clinton, who kicked Kiss ass all the way to the parking lot. Glad that one is preserved for posterity by OZ. Same goes for Trombone Shorty, the most impressive link between generations. Really missed the Land of Nod stage, thought Preservation Hall dropped the ball this time around, and am waiting for the announcement that the Bingo! folks have signed with Disney. Gotta say I'm sick of all the tweeting and demands for instant information. I actually had fun myself. Gee, what a novel concept.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Gail Zappa on music

Gail Zappa, keeper of the flame for all things concerning her late husband Frank Zappa, has written a piece on music for the Huffington Post that reads like it could have dictated by Frank himself from beyong the grave:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

CMJ to Voodoo

Had a very good time at the CMJ festival in New York and am looking forward to Voodoo in New Orleans this weekend. CMJ was packed -- it made little sense to try planning an evening out because of the long lines to get into some of the clubs. New Orleans is such a better environment for enjoying live music. Caught the Anders Osborne/John Fohl/Johnny Sansone set at Chickie Wah Wah Tuesday night. It's a semi-acoustic format which leaves a lot of dynamic space for the playing to shine through, and as powerful as Anders is at full volume I have to say I prefer this format because his slide work was masterful, something on a level with Duane Allman at his most creative, yet completely in Anders' own style. Fohl is an exceptional partner voice on single string solos, rhythm and fills. It's not just a technical display, either, which I think some hot guitar assemblages suffer from. Both Fohl and Osborne play from the heart at all times and their sympatico is breathtaking. Sansone is the perfect third man (cue the theme), playing percussion, accordion and harp and tossing a couple of his own tunes into the mix. This is really a must-see collaboration; one hopes they go on to record something together.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Suicide rate in NOLA peaks since Katrina

One of the most insidious things about the so-called "recovery" in New Orleans is the number of people who are walking around with untreated mental disorders. Boy genius Gov. Bobby Jindal's answer to this problem is to close New Orleans mental health clinics.
Read this hair-raising account in today's Times-Picayune:

Friday, September 18, 2009

More New Orleans musicians pass away

This has been a sad year for the New Orleans musicians' community and two more greats have recently passed, vocalist Juanita Brooks and multi-instrumentalist Hart McNee.

Brooks is best known for her theatrical work in the productions of "One Mo' Time," "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," and "Staggerlee," but she was a vibrant presence on the local club scene performing with a host of local stalwarts including the late Eddie Bo, George and Bob French and the Palm Court Jazz All-Stars. Her funeral was this morning and her friends will remember her with a jam session at Sweet Lorraine's.

McNee, who recently passed away after a long illness, was a resident of my neighborhood in the Bywater section of the 9th Ward. His friends will gather for second line in his memory tomorrow afternoon at 2 pm in front of his old house at 3212 Burgundy St. (between Piety and Louisa Streets). The parade will proceed up Burgundy St. to Press St, down Press to Chartres, up Chartres to Port with a stop at Sound Café. It will then head to Royal and Franklin for a refreshment stop at Mimi's and Flora Café. From there it will head up Royal, turn left on Spain, and stop at Chartres and Spain (Cake Café.) It will then continue down Spain to Decatur and up Decatur to Frenchmen Street and disband at Café Brasil.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

T. Ray and the Shades at the Landmark

It's a long way from the Mississippi delta to this remote spot on the Oregon coast, but at the Landmark Tavern in the village of Yachats, about midway down the Pacific coast of Oregon, they're keeping the blues alive.

The bar and music club is run by a former New York bureau chief for United Press International, Bruce Olson. His wife Marilyn, another former Unipresser, is in charge of the adjoining restaurant. The place is built along the edge of a cliff commanding the Yachats river estuary, a half mile of rivermouth filled with seawater at high tide but receeding to a wide, puddle filled beach when the tide goes out.

The Landmark has live music three or four nights a week, ranging from touring Louisiana musicians -- Mem Shannon, The Bluerunners, Bryan Lee, Russell Batiste and Rockin Jake have all played there -- to local blues and rock acts and higher profile blues musicians on national tours.

Over the Labor Day weekend the Landmark featured the local band T. Ray and the Shades on Friday, followed by the Chicago-based national act Studebaker John and the Hawks for two nights.

T. Ray and the Shades are young musicians just coming into their own judging from the progress made between a serviceable debut, Seize the Day (2007) and last year's much more engaging Live at Columbia Crossings. The band went over well with the Friday night crowd at the Landmark, playing a mixture of strong originals and standard covers with creative arrangements. Though Tiffany (T. Ray) Murray, the 20-something woman who fronts the band, has long, natural hair and a voice that can break into a raspy vibrato, she has clearly listened more closely to Etta James (she does a convincing version of Etta's "You Got It") than Janis Joplin. Nevertheless the band keeps a cover of "Me and Bobby McGee" in the book to satisfy the inevitable demand from the crowd to "Do Janis!"

"Some people listen with their eyes," says Tiffany, who is learning her crowd-pleasing skills as she goes along. She gives them Janis, but at a slower tempo and without the vibrato. That's only one of several clever arrangements of familiar tunes this band delivers, like the version of "Crossroads" built around a saxophone passage instead of a guitar riff and a cover of B.B. King's "The Thrill Is Gone" that completely turns the song on its head.

The band has the good sense to use Junior Wells and Jimmy Reed songs to whip up the crowd, then fills the set with originals that vaguely resemble well-known hits. You think you're listening to a re-arranged song by the Pretenders, the Pointer Sisters or Van Morrison only to hear them break into a well turned original chorus.

The Shades feature three very good soloists -- Scott Johnston, an inventive R&B saxophonist, the superb guitarist and songwriter Matt Zekala and a bassist, Niko Green, who is so good he drives the band rhythmically, leaving drummer Matt Murray to act as the timekeeper.

Zekala is a whiz with a lot of potential, but the band's future ultimately rides with T. Ray herself, whose songwriting chops and vocal intelligence could take her a long way. She has to navigate a precipitous path between being just another hippie chick leading an interesting jam band and an overemoting neo soul diva, but she can take the heat, which is a good sign. For now you can find her and her enjoyable band playing to the backdrop of giant waves crashing against the rocks of Yachats, which is not a bad place to be at all.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Evacuate or incarcerate

Texas enacted a law Tuesday that any citizen ignoring an evacuation order may be arrested. Take this notion alongside the Tom Ridge admission that homeland security alerts were manipulated for political reasons during the 2004 election (DUH!!!) and you have quite a recipe for elimination of political opposition en masse.
Reminds me of a song by my old friend Frank Zappa:
"Concentration moon
Over the camp in the valley
Concentration moon
Wish I was back in the alley..."

Monday, August 31, 2009

Save Charity Hospital Second Line

From our friends at Valid records:

Second Line to Save Charity Hospital TODAY!!!

Rebirth & Hot 8 Brass Bands leading a parade to Save Charity

Monday, August 31, 2009

6:00pm - 7:30pm

Location: Charity Hospital

1532 Tulane Avenue

New Orleans, LA

"Calling all Charity Hospital Babies and Supporters!

It's time to show our support of Charity Hospital in a way that only New Orleans can - with a Second Line parade!

The Rebirth & Hot 8 brass bands will lead a second line march and parade to show our support for the plan to gut and rebuild Charity Hospital.

Line up outside Charity at 5:45pm because this train is leaving at 6:00pm SHARP! We'll be parading around the footprint of the destructive proposed Lower Mid-City hospital.

We CAN save Charity Hospital. This is our chance to show our support for the plan that is faster, less expensive and less destructive!

Sponsored my, the Social Aid & Pleasure Club Task Force and the Committee to Reopen Charity Hospital."

Won't Get Fooled Again

Who guitarist Pete Townshend is writing a musical about aging Baby Boomers called Floss (it's not about dental floss).

"I am writing a new musical," Townshend announced. "Floss is an ambitious new project for me, in the style of Tommy and Quadrophenia. In this case the songs are interspersed with surround-sound 'soundscapes' featuring complex sound effects and musical montages."

Townshend hopes for a 2011 production of the musical. Meanwhile plans are to release some of the musical's more "conventional" songs on a new Who album next year.

Townshend's hero is a pub rock musician called Walter who makes a fortune when one of his songs is used in an advertisement (inspired by Nick Lowe?). "When he tries to return to music after a 15-year hiatus, he finds that what he hears and what he composes evoke the ecologically rooted, apocalyptic mindset of his generation," said Townshend. "Shaken by this and torn by personal difficulties, he and (his wife) Floss become estranged."

Townshend recognized the connection to his classic Boomer tribute "My Generation," which he called "the most explicitly ageist song in rock." (What about the Beatles' "When I'm 64?") Without irony Townshend continued: "At 64 I now want to take on ageing and mortality, using the powerfully angry context of rock'n'roll."

The Who's most recent release is actually the expanded material on the Woodstock soundtrack, a truncated and very, very powerful rendition of Tommy. The Who will never sound better than they did right at that moment -- Keith Moon was at the absolute height of his powers, and Townshend was awesome carrying most of the musical weight. Townshend has been writing really well about getting old ever since The Who By Numbers. It should be interesting to see what he comes up with here.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Handa Wanda Obama

Great to see that Obama promises to visit New Orleans before the end of the year. Financial help from the federal government is useful only if local politicians don't steal it or give it to their family members and friends. But Obama is a great communicator and his presence on the ground in New Orleans can be a real inspiration for people to take control of their destiny and wrest it away from the corrupt politicians. One can only hope that while he's in town Obama delivers a private smackdown to that worthless excuse of a city leader currently looking at himself in the mirror and thinking about all the money he's going to make once he leaves office next year. Maybe he can start a consulting firm with his buddy George W. Bush.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Jazz: Still Alive and Well

The noted journalist and Jazz at Lincoln Center patron Doug Garr commented on my last post, which poked fun at what many perceive as the stodgy nature of some of the Lincoln Center Jazz programming. You're absolutely right about Wynton, Doug. I think he is in some ways underrated. Wynton is an outstanding player and I'd love to hear him play in a trumpet cutting session along the lines you suggest. Thanks for standing up for him. My flippant remarks were more a criticism of form than content. It's great that Wynton has been able to elevate jazz to the same level of support that European classical music enjoys. I really love the emotional impact of his New Orleans-inspired work and it's always exciting to hear him play in NOLA.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jazz still isn't dead

Per my previous post, please don't infer any criticism of Wynton Marsalis, who is a one-of-a-generation level talent and has proven himself to be a world leader in the realm of culture. I think Wynton was brilliant in figuring out how to place jazz on the same level as European classical music among the highbrow rich people crowd that funds institutions like Lincoln Center in New York. The first 60 years of jazz history is well worth the attention Wynton affords it and without an institution like Lincoln Center to fund it we might be left with the interpretations of those extremely nice and well meaning people from Norway, Sweden and Denmark who come to New Orleans every spring and remind us of the way jazz was played 100 years ago. Wynton is a genius and he takes very good care of the world class musicians, many from New Orleans, who populate the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Wynton's generosity as a boss extends to regular onstage nap times for certain members of the entourage. As for the audience at those Lincoln Center events, sitting in those ultra comfy sliding plush seats, who could blame them for experiencing some precious REM moments during the show. All the more reason for not scheduling events like Tribute to Albert Ayler or Miles Davis On the Corner, which might provide disturbing sounds that could jar the patrons from the pleasant dreams that jazz music affords them.
None of the previous observations are meant to reflect on the awesome energy generated by Wynton and the LCJO's masterpiece, Congo Square, which has entered the permanent jazz lexicon for my money. Every time I see that performed it reminds me of the moment at Jazz Fest back when there were night concerts when Wynton finally triumphed over Miles by performing Majesty of the Blues.

Wall Street Journal declares jazz "dead"

The Wall Street Journal, the financial mouthpiece of international pornographer/racist/unionbuster/thief Rupert Murdoch, has official declared that jazz is dead. Ironically, one of the key reasons for its demise is cited as its institutionalization at New York's Lincoln Center. Jazz is "alive" in the worldview of Murdoch newspeak only when it is the music of the poor and unfunded.
The recent Terence Blanchard concert at the Ogden Museum in New Orleans, performed to a packed house on a Friday evening, is only one example of how alive jazz remains as an entertainment medium. The fact that bands such as Bon Jovi clamor to be included in the lineup of the New Orleans Jazz Festival, which drew 400,000 earlier this year, suggests that whatever "jazz" is supposed to represent, it certainly remains something fairly popular in the public consciousness. The massive success of the Montreal International Jazz Festival is another definitive demonstration of the life jazz manages to exhibit. I suppose if your sole criteria is based on the programming of Jazz at Lincoln Center, which essentially repudiates the last 40 years of this music's evolution, you might come to some erronious conclusions.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Gov't Mule's By A Thread due in October

Gov't Mule, for my money one of the greatest rock bands in history, is set to release its latest record, By A Thread on October 27th. By A Thread was recorded largely in the Texas Hill Country at Willie Nelson's Pedernales Studio earlier this year. The first track, "Broke Down On The Brazos," features Warren Haynes engaged in a guitar slinging exchange with that master of Texas rock, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top.

Woostock redux

Now that the windbags have spent their hurricane force of wasted words about Woodstock and the 40th anniversary of the event has passed we can breath a sigh of relief and speculate that by the 50th anniversary the world may finally have moved on. The "Heroes of Woodstock" concert was nevertheless an interesting event that could have led to some thoughtful reflection. Jon Pareles of the New York Times had a good take on the event both before and after it took place, but he was alone in a wildnerness of useless verbiage. Woodstock '69 was one of numerous summer concerts featuring similar lineups of bands. Two weeks before it took place many of the same groups played a three day festival at Atlantic City, New Jersey, for example, a festival that has been essentially lost to history but was probably just as worthy a musical gathering if not moreso. The Who didn't make AC but Dr. John, the Sir Douglas Quintet, Frank Zappa and Chicago all played sets that were arguably as good or better than anything heard at the New York festival.

The Heroes of Woodstock concert was a good deal as these kind of nostalgia exploitation events go, with lawn tickets selling for $19.69, probably the cheapest ticket price for a show of this kind anywhere. Outside of auteur Paul Kantner's ongoing science fiction version of the Jefferson Airplane, which one can imagine being led by a cybernetic Kantner centuries from now, most of the music was forgettable -- Ten Years After without Alvin Lee?! -- but headliner Levon Helm's band can hold its own with anyone on the current touring scene, and Helm's Electric Dirt is one of the best recordings of the year. On the album Helm finds eternal truths in songs by Muddy Waters and Garcia/Hunter and his band translates them into glorious anthems celebrating the human spirit. There aren't many contemporary pop artists who can match the timeless beauty of this music.

I didn't expect much from the expanded 6-CD version of the Woodstock recordings, but there's some worthwhile stuff there. The full Richie Havens set is definitely worth a listen, and the additional tracks from The Who and Jefferson Airplane are fascinating even though other live documents from these bands are available. But to me the real revelation is the set by Country Joe and the Fish, which was hard edged, angular and delivered with a purpose that sounds closer to the throbbing metallic blurt of post punk music than the soft excesses of psychedelia. The band rose to this challenge and guitarist Barry Melton never had a better day.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Swenson win Press Club of New Orleans Awards

Last Saturday John Swenson was awarded first place in the Critical Review category at the 51st Annual Press Club of New Orleans Awards banquet. He won for the review of Dr. John's album City That Care Forgot. The event took place at Harrah's Hotel in downtown New Orleans.

Swenson also won the third place award in the Entertainment Feature category for his article on brass bands in OffBeat magazine, "Off the Record."

Hosted by WDSU alum and current CNN anchor Kyra Phillips, the sold out event honored lifetime achievement winners Walt Philbin and Dan Milham.

Here's a reprint of the review:

Dr. John
City That Care Forgot
By John Swenson

Dr. John has always been a superior songwriter. A master conceptualist, he envisions lyrics and music as part of an overall vision. He is one of the very few denizens of the fertile New Orleans R&B scene of the 1950s to translate the miniaturist art of the three-minute hit into the longplayer ethos of funk and rock. His conceptual power travels further into his interpretations of other writers’ songs. Unlike most New Orleans groups who use cover material as simple fodder for jamming grooves with little regard for the original song structure, Mac Rebennack translates everything he touches into Dr. John material.

Aside from his apocalyptic glimpse at the chaos of late-1960s American culture on his second album, Babylon, Rebennack has rarely ventured into topical material. In fact, many of his lyrics make up a kind of secret language corresponding to the sound of his music. But he has been politicized by what he views as a wholesale governmental betrayal of New Orleans before and after Katrina, beginning with the shoddy construction of the levees that failed in the storm surge and continuing through the corruption and deceit of the recovery effort. He’s written about this for the Voices of the Wetlands, but now he’s devoted nearly an entire album to the subject, City That Care Forgot.

This subject matter is so important to Dr. John that he has enlisted several writers to help him put his point across, including a trusted old friend, Bobby Charles, the author of “Walking to New Orleans.” The trademark Dr. John delivery, relaxed and offhanded, still comes across in large part, but it’s spiked with the unmistakable catch-in-the-throat sound of an angry man. It’s a startling transition for those who’ve followed him over the years, and it gets your attention.

There are several cameo pieces here—the inspirational “You Might Be Surprised,” the environmental anthem “Save Our Wetlands,” and a great song about the city’s controversial campaign to stamp out second line celebrations, “My People Need a Second Line” with a terrific guest shot from Trombone Shorty.

Over the course of the rest of the record, Rebennack outlines the framework of an epic American tragedy in point-by-point observations, drawing on what some might call urban myths to paint a powerful picture of systemic betrayal and genocide.

In “Keep on Going,” he references the Hansel and Gretel story of being lost in a forest to describe those driven from their homes by the storm. They left that trail of bread crumbs, but it was washed away, and now “the only home you got is your own self.” He mythologizes himself as “a samurai of the Holy Lost Cause,” and asserts that the levees were blown “with intention.” He attributes motivation to that intention in “Land Grab,” accusing the politicians and their corporate backers of trying to run the people of the Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard off their homes in “the biggest land grab since Columbus.”

Everywhere he turns, he sees evil in the world—trigger-happy Blackwater private security forces who used deadly force without legal restraint in the chaotic days after the storm, much needed resources wasted in Iraq, and behind it all Bush, Cheney and Halliburton. But alongside the anger is a deep wellspring of sorrow. In “We’re Getting’ There,” he writes of people he knows losing the battle to rebuild their homes and giving up. “Ask anybody if they knew a friend that died from suicide,” he notes coldly.

That sorrow reaches its apotheosis as a motivating factor in Rebennack’s world on “Stripped Away,” a loving remembrance of New Orleans before the storm.

Few people have done a better job of codifying the spirit of New Orleans over the years, offering tributes to its musical forefathers and participating directly in nearly a half century of its most important music. On City That Care Forgot he may have fashioned its most elegant obituary.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Birdsongs of the Mesozoic

A victory for music on its own terms, well worth a mention, although I will be in New Orleans. I wish I could hear this.

From July 24 - 30, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, featuring founding member Roger Miller (of Mission of Burma), will be playing five East Coast shows in support of the recent 2-CD release Dawn of the Cycads on Cuneiform Records. This package contains their complete recordings plus unreleased material for the Boston-based Ace of Hearts Records (Mission of Burma, Lyres, etc). The original lineup, with current Birdsongs guitarist Michael Bierylo filling in for Martin Swope, will perform music exclusively from their new retrospective and will play on vintage equipment.

Triassic Tour 2009 performances:

Providence, RI Thursday, July 23rd
9:30 pm, $6 AS220
115 Empire St.
Providence, RI 02903

also performing:
Alec K. Redfearn and Barnacle

New York , NY Friday, July 24th
8:30 pm, $10.00, 21+ Mercury Lounge
217 E. Houston St.
New York , NY

also performing: Ergo

Philadelphia, PA Saturday, July 25th
7:00 pm, $10, 21+ Kung Fu Necktie
1250 North Front St.
Philadelphia, PA

Baltimore, MD Sunday, July 26th
7:00 pm, $10, All-Ages Talking Head Club
407 East Saratoga St.
Baltimore, MD 21202

also performing:
Lo Moda

Somerville, MA Thursday, July 30th
9:00 pm, 21+ Johnny D's
17 Holland St.
Somerville, MA 02144

For more information on this tour, contact Birdsongs at

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ornette Coleman receives Miles Davis award

Ornette Coleman was presented with the Miles Davis award this afternoon at The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. Alain Simard, founder and president of the Festival, presented the 79 year old musician with the award, noting that this year marked the 50th anniversary of Coleman's landmark album The Shape of Jazz to Come.
Coleman was asked about this anniversary, about the history of jazz, his influences and ambitions. He responded in long, softspoken philosophical observations about humanity, about the meaning of life, and about his relationship with his parents, who he said knew more about him than he knew about them. He said that he discovered his destiny was involved with sound, and he expressed wonder at the nature of being alive.
In closing he offered this observation:
I would like everyone to be happy and never die.

Ornette Coleman is the latest in a series of Miles Davis prizewinners. He follows McCoy Tyner (2008), Mike Stern (2007), Brad Mehldau (2006), Dave Holland (2005), Keith Jarrett (2004), Joe Zawinul (2003), Chick Corea (2002), Michael Brecker (2001), Charlie Haden (2000), Cassandra Wilson (1999), John Scofield (1998), Herbie Hancock (1997), Wayne Shorter (1996), Pat Metheny (1995) and John McLaughlin (1994).

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bill Evans Turn Out the Stars reissued

Amazing to think that Bill Evans was just 51 when he died in 1980. Though best known for his work with Miles Davis on the monumental jazz recording Kind of Blue Evans was a king of the piano trio, carving out a unique musical personality. His piano playing was sheer poetry, languid and hypnotic, filled with dark melodies creeping down endless hallways. His influence ranged extensively, reaching even into the pop world, where Traffic's Steve Winwood evidenced exposure to Evans. Turn Out the Stars, The Final Village Vanguard Recordings, June 1980 is some of the last music he made, a 6-CD box recorded by the trio that also included bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joe LaBarbera on June 4, 5, 6, and 8, 1980 three months before his death on September 15. When this music was finally released in 1996 historians revised the final commentary on Evans' work, acknowledging that he was in the throes of fresh inspiration with this trio.

The set has been out of print since the demise of Warner Jazz. Nonesuch Records has just reissued it with a detailed booklet including notes by critic Bob Blumenthal and pianist Harold Danko. The list price of the reissue is $49.98, roughly half of the price of the original 1996 release.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ensemble Fatien tonight!

Marc Stone sent word of a show called “The Beat of West Africa Alive in New Orleans” tonight (Friday June 19th) and tomorrow (Saturday June 20th) at Ashe Cultural Arts Center.

Featuring Seguenon Kone and Ensemble Fatien (with Dr. Michael White, Margie Perez, Matt Perrine, Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes, Rex Gregory, Boubacar Cissoko, and Marc Stone) and the drummers and dancers of Ivoire Spectacle.

Ensemble Fatien and Ivoire Spectacle wish to thank everyone who helped us have such a wonderful festival season here in New Orleans. We would like to thank the city of New Orleans for embracing our efforts by joining these two groups together for a very special event.

In appreciation for your support, we would like to invite you to the Ashe Cultural Center where we will present shows on Friday June 19th and Saturday June 20th called “The Beat of West Africa Alive In New Orleans featuring Seguenon Kone, Ensemble Fatien and Ivoire Spectacle”. These will be the first joint performances by all 10 musicians from Ensemble Fatien and the great dancers and drummers of Ivoire Spectacle. The shows will be held at Ashe Cultural Center (1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd at Euterpe St) from 7:00-8:30pm on both evenings. Tickets are $20 and available at the door or by calling Ashe Cultural Center at 504-723-6693.

We would also like to let everyone know that we have been invited to join the roster of Threadhead Records, a fan-funded label that is now home to many of New Orleans’ finest artists. If you would like more information about our recording project, and the efforts of a great non-profit organization dedicated to helping the New Orleans music scene please visit Threadhead Records at

Taller Children

Here's a link to Elizabeth & the Catapult's video for the title track "Taller Children"... summer fun

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Supa Chikan at NYC's Central Park

Supa Chikan is playing a free concert this afternoon, Saturday, June 13, 2009, 3:00 – 4:45 p.m. at Central Park’s East Meadow, 5th avenue at 97th street, NYC. Cheers to Rainbow Ralph.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Marva Wright suffers stroke

New Orleans blues diva Marva Wright is recovering from a severe stroke she suffered last Saturday. Wright, 61, had just finished her regular gig at the
CoCo Club on Bourbon Street when paramedics were called because
the singer wasn't feeling well and had slurred speech.

Wright's daughter, Gerry McKey, said Tuesday her mother remains in a local
hospital with limited movement on her right side. McKey said her mother has
diabetes and high blood pressure and suffered a less severe stroke about three
weeks ago.

Manager Adam Shipley said Wright's June 19 show at Tipitina's has been canceled
and other cancellations may follow. Wright's band, the BMWs, performed as
scheduled at a benefit concert Sunday with a substitute singer.

This is particularly distressing news coming on the heels of Koko Taylor's death.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

David Byrne at Prospect Park

It appears that every 25 to 40-something newbie Brooklynite involved in the last 15 years of gentrification showed up for the David Byrne concert at Prospect Park Monday night to open the Celebrate Brooklyn festival at the band shell. I've been going to these events since they started and this was the largest crowd I've ever see at the bandshell, even bigger than the turnout for Dylan last year. Being that it was a weekday night and there were more people out in the park than inside the enclosure I attribute the enormous turnout to the economic conditions ie: everyone in Brooklyn is out of a job. The show was outstanding. Byrne can be infuriatingly fey but he rose to the occasion at this event and performed with serious passion. The most interesting aspect of the whole thing from my perspective was how the young crowd related to songs from three decades ago as if they were contemporary observations. "Once In a Lifetime" and "Life During Wartime" were written as social barbs taking on American mores during the Reagan administration, but both songs could have been written yesterday and the crowd took them to heart as contemporary works, not nostalgia:
"You may ask yourself
Where is my beautiful house?"
Well, for a lot of these folks, it's underwater, which is where Byrne was when he made the video of the song back in the early days of MTV. Prophecy, thy name is Byrne.

Vision Festival starts tonight

With the JVC Jazz Festival having bit the dust the Vision Festival has become the real New York Jazz Festival. This year's event honors Marshall Allen and starts tonight at the Abrons Art Center, 466 Grand St.

Host: Lewis Barnes

Opening Invocation
Hamid Drake / Patricia Nicholson / William Parker

7:30 in the Downstairs Theater
INSTALLATION: DVD video projected on Assemblage
©2009 Lili White
DVD video; color, sound; TRT: 16.10 minutes, looped

Brass Bang
Billy Bang - violin
Ted Daniel - trumpet
James Zollar - trumpet
Ahmed Abdullah - trumpet
Dick Griffin - trombone
Russell Carter - drums

Douglas R. Ewart and Inventions
Shaku Joseph Jarman - flute, sax, poetry
Douglas R. Ewart - winds, percussion, voice
J.D. Parran - flute, clarinets and bass sax
Donald Smith - piano
Thurman Barker - drums and vibes
Amiri Baraka - words

"Vision of New York"
video by Luciano Rossetti

Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris Conducts A Chorus Of Poets and String Ensemble
"Conduction® No. 187, Erotic Eulogy"

Chorus of Poets:
Yasha Bilan, Mark Gerring, Chavisa Woods, Nora McCarthy,
Justin Carter, Alex Bilu, Helga Davis, David Devoe
String of Ensemble:
Nicole Federici, Jason kao Hwang - viola
Shawn McGloin, Jane Wang - bass
Skye Steele, Charlie Burnham - violin
Greg Heffernan, Alisa Horn - cello
Text by Allan Graubard

Sunday, June 7, 2009

New Orleans Fairmont hotel to re-open

The great Fairmont hotel, closed since Katrina, is reopening.

Hotel officially opens June 26th!

Ribbon cutting ceremony July 1st

See also Fans of Tim Laughlin page:

Tim Laughlin and his band opens at the Sazerac Bar - from July 10th
and debuts in the Blue Room - July 31st

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sam Butera dies

Sam Butera, the great New Orleans saxophonist who played for many years with Louis Prima, passed away. Here's the New York Times obit by Peter Keepnews:

Thursday, June 4, 2009



Grammy Award-winning blues legend Koko Taylor, 80, died on June 3, 2009 in her
hometown of Chicago, IL, as a result of complications following her May 19
surgery to correct a gastrointestinal bleed. On May 7, 2009, the critically
acclaimed Taylor, known worldwide as the “Queen of the Blues,” won her 29th
Blues Music Award (for Traditional Female Blues Artist Of The Year), making her
the recipient of more Blues Music Awards than any other artist. In 2004 she
received the NEA National Heritage Fellowship Award, which is among the highest
honors given to an American artist. Her most recent CD, 2007’s Old School, was
nominated for a Grammy (eight of her nine Alligator albums were
Grammy-nominated). She won a Grammy in 1984 for her guest appearance on the
compilation album Blues Explosion on Atlantic.

Born Cora Walton on a sharecropper’s farm just outside Memphis, TN, on September
28, 1928, Koko, nicknamed for her love of chocolate, fell in love with music at
an early age. Inspired by gospel music and WDIA blues disc jockeys B.B. King and
Rufus Thomas, Taylor began belting the blues with her five brothers and sisters,
accompanying themselves on their homemade instruments. In 1952, Taylor and her
soon-to-be-husband, the late Robert “Pops” Taylor, traveled to Chicago with
nothing but, in Koko’s words, “thirty-five cents and a box of Ritz Crackers.”

In Chicago, “Pops” worked for a packing company, and Koko cleaned houses.
Together they frequented the city’s blues clubs nightly. Encouraged by her
husband, Koko began to sit in with the city’s top blues bands, and soon she was
in demand as a guest artist. One evening in 1962 Koko was approached by
arranger/composer Willie Dixon. Overwhelmed by Koko’s performance, Dixon landed
Koko a Chess Records recording contract, where he produced her several singles,
two albums and penned her million-selling 1965 hit “Wang Dang Doodle,” which
would become Taylor’s signature song.

After Chess Records was sold, Taylor found a home with the Chicago’s Alligator
Records in 1975 and released the Grammy-nominated I Got What It Takes. She
recorded eight more albums for Alligator between 1978 and 2007, received seven
more Grammy nominations and made numerous guest appearances on various albums
and tribute recordings. Koko appeared in the films Wild At Heart, Mercury Rising
and Blues Brothers 2000. She performed on Late Night With David Letterman, Late
Night With Conan O’Brien, CBS-TV’s This Morning, National Public Radio’s All
Things Considered, CBS-TV’s Early Edition, and numerous regional television

Over the course of her 40-plus-year career, Taylor received every award the
blues world has to offer. On March 3, 1993, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley
honored Taylor with a “Legend Of The Year” Award and declared “Koko Taylor Day”
throughout Chicago. In 1997, she was inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Hall
of Fame. A year later, Chicago Magazine named her “Chicagoan Of The Year” and,
in 1999, Taylor received the Blues Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In
2009 Taylor performed in Washington, D.C. at The Kennedy Center Honors honoring
Morgan Freeman.

Koko Taylor was one of very few women who found success in the male-dominated
blues world. She took her music from the tiny clubs of Chicago’s South Side to
concert halls and major festivals all over the world. She shared stages with
every major blues star, including Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Junior
Wells and Buddy Guy as well as rock icons Robert Plant and Jimmy Page.

Taylor’s final performance was on May 7, 2009 in Memphis at the Blues Music
Awards, where she sang “Wang Dang Doodle” after receiving her award for
Traditional Blues Female Artist Of The Year.

Survivors include Taylor’s husband Hays Harris, daughter Joyce Threatt,
son-in-law Lee Threatt, grandchildren Lee, Jr. and Wendy, and three

Friday, May 29, 2009

Assembly of Dust offers downloads of new songs

In a forward thinking move that upends the standard album release formula, Assembly Of Dust has created an innovative fan program that lives up to the album title 'Some Assembly Required.' In advance of the release of their new album, out July 21 on Missing Piece/Rock Ridge Music, the band will give their fans a chance to have their very own a part of the album, giving away 7 of the albums 13 tracks as free downloads at the bands website:

Beginning June 2, a new track will be available for free download every Tuesday leading up to release. Each download will be available for a limited time.

The schedule is:
June 2: "High Brow" - Featuring Al Schnier (moe)
June 9: "Leadbelly" - Featuring Jerry Douglas
June 16: "Arc of the Sun" - Featuring Mike Gordon (Phish)
June 23: "All That I am Now" - Featuring Richie Havens
June 30: "Borrowed Feet" - Featuring John Scofield
July 7: "Straight" - Featuring Theresa Andersson
July 14: "Pedal Down" - Featuring The Gabbard Brothers (Buffalo Killers)

Koko Taylor recovering from surgery


Koko Taylor, 80, Grammy Award-winning "Queen of the Blues," is recovering from
surgery to correct a gastrointestinal bleed. The surgery was performed on May 19
at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Her doctors anticipate a full
recovery. Taylor is not accepting visitors or phone calls at this time.

Taylor's most recent live performance was at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis,
TN, on May 7, 2009. She performed her signature song, "Wang Dang Doodle," after
receiving the award for Traditional Blues Female Blues Artist Of The Year. This
was Taylor's 29th Blues Music Award, making her the recipient of more Blues
Music Awards than any other artist. In addition, she has received the NEA
National Heritage Fellowship Award, which is among the highest honors given to
an American artist. Her most recent CD, 2007’s Old School, was nominated for a
Grammy (eight of her nine Alligator Records albums were Grammy-nominated). She
won a Grammy in 1984 for her guest appearance on the compilation album Blues
Explosion on Atlantic Records.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Another Bugsy sighting

Brian "Bugsy" Watson was one of my favorite hockey players in the old days and I'm lucky enough to be friends with his son Steve Watson, co-owner of the Kingpin and a member of $1000 Car. The New York Rangers' Sean Avery prompted New York Post columnist Larry Brooks to recall Bugsy in a column last month, and today's New York Times has a piece on the Red Wings-Blackhawks series that also references Bugsy:

Always good for a laugh

One thing you've got to say for New Orleans: with all the political corruption, broken promises and partisan bickering it's a comedy gold mine. The local comedy magazine The Levee has been scoring hit after hit attacking giant pinatas like David Vitter and Ray Nagin, plus it had the best Jazz Fest coverage in the city, with a front page headline about Quint Davis hiring the deceased Clarence Gatemouth Brown to headline Jazz Fest and a lengthy testimonal piece from New Orleans musicians about the validity of Bon Jovi (Kermit Ruffins describing Richie Sambora's influence on his trumpet playing is one of the best pieces of music writing I've read since Lester Bangs passed away).
Even more impressive is the online newsletter nola.fugees, which mixes satire with relevant political reporting you won't see in Gambit or the Times Picayune and profiles of local Ninth Ward homesteaders. The current issue has a terrific piece on my neighbor Tanya Solomon's home on St. Claude Avenue, a real story about life in New Orleans that explains why she had to destroy her own stoop in her ongoing fight with crack dealers. Solomon's Wonder Farm Cabaret puts on its last performance today (Sunday 5/24 at the Hi-Ho Lounge).
The site also has a pictoral essay on the messy Piety Street wharf fire.
By all means check out:

Friday, May 22, 2009

To hell with critics

When it comes to critical observations, I think it's important to point out that no one's personal choices are any better than anyone else's. Everyone has their own reasons for aesthetic response to the world around them. Those who insist on being gatekeepers are liars. They are no better than politicians. I have spent my life reviewing musical performances and I know for sure that my opinions are worthless. At least I'm willing to admit it. If my words can illuminate something I've heard to the point where someone else understands why I was so moved then I have done a good job.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Twitting aimlessly

Following the twit progress I can definitely see its value for quick info exchanges but it's disastrous as a thought exchange. The 140 character limit does not lead to pithy epithets, it leads to incomplete thoughts masquerading as meaningful messages. This is very dangerous in a communications world already so imperiled by short attention spans. Now people can't even follow their own train of thought.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

JS Thursday nite on Rutgers radio

Check out my guest shot on "The Low Budget Blues Show" Thursday night on WRSU-FM, Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, 88.7FM, 9-11 EDT.
You can hear the live stream of the show here:

Digital downloads from

Zappa Records has begun selling official digital downloads (ODDs) directly from with the 41st anniversary release of 'MOTHERMANIA,' which also marks the 45th anniversary of Frank Zappa & The Mothers:
The album is available in 256kbps MP3 or lossless FLAC format.
On May 10, 1964, Frank Zappa named his band the Muthers, ie The Mothers, making May 10 the official Mothers Day for his fans. His record company insisted on the change of name to Mothers of Invention.
May 15, 2009 is Ahmet Zappa's 35th birthday.
'MOTHERMANIA' Track Listing:
1. Brown Shoes Don't Make It 2. Mother People 3. Duke Of Prunes 4. Call Any Vegetable 5. The Idiot Bastard Son 6. It Can't Happen Here 7. You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here 8. Who Are The Brain Police? 9. Plastic People 10. Hungry Freaks, Daddy 11. America Drinks & Goes Home

Monday, May 11, 2009

Festival season in New Orleans ends, for now

And so another festival season in New Orleans comes to an end, with the grace notes of Tom McDermott and Evan Christopher playing duets on a Sunday afternoon at Snug Harbor, then the New Orleans Leviathan Foxtrot Orchestra performing in the sultry evening for a languid but fully absorbed group of picnicers and dancers. d.b.a. had a good crowd for Coco Robicheaux but you could still move around in the club and order a drink. The tourist-gorged streets of the french quarter have returned to their thoughtful sleepy ways and this ancient city once again starts its unhurried pace. Political infighting over power and money resumes its sordid hold on a city that can express outrage yet returns scoundrels like Ray Nagin to office. Nagin, who will thankfully be unceremoniously dumped before he can do any more damage as mayor (don't give him Michael Bloomberg's phone number) thanks to the term limit law, was once known for the scurrilous race baiting of his second mayoral campaign in which he vowed that New Orleans would be returned to "Chocolate City." The African Americans who voted for this ruse have been the most cruelly served by a mayor whose interest in governing has been markedly devoid of a plan to resurrect any part of the city beyond the tourist and business enclaves. It seems likely that Nagin's ultimate defining statement is that he doesn't remember taking an unethical first class trip to Jamaica with his family in the awful days after Katrina, when the city
hadn't even fully accounted for its dead. It was all "a blur" lied this former CEO, who knows how to manipulate the levers of power to serve his own ends. Clancy Dubos wrote a great editorial about Nagin's character in the current Gambit Weekly, a powerful piece of oratory that will follow Nagin around like a ghost of Christmas past over his last miserable months in office.
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival was a great success and a credit to the city. Quint Davis and his expert organization has done an amazing job of shepherding some of the city's most vulnerable musical resources in the wake of the flood of 2005. Even if the neighborhoods that nurtured the Mardi Gras Indians and brass band second lines don't survive, they will always be represented in force at the festival. Many of the organizations were so thinned out after the storm that they had share members to help each other out in live performance, just as many of the city's musicians played in numerous local bands during Jazz Fest. An army of reporters descended on New Orleans to document the 40th anniversary of this crucial piece of American history, using every resource at their disposal, from pen and ink to Twitter, to spread the news. At a time when they are fighting what appears to be a losing battle of their own, these reporters deserve credit for the selfless zeal in which they ply their vocation to keep a curious public informed. Be sure to check the future pages of OffBeat for some of the most salient observations on New Orleans culture by a staff that includes yours truly and the inestimable Alex Rawls.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Theresa Andersson on Assembly of Dust album

Assembly of Dust's new album is a showcase for the exceptional songwriting talents of band leader Reid Genauer. Out July 21, on Missing Piece/Rock Ridge Music, 'Some Assembly Required' highlights his most accomplished and engaging songs to date, with a knock-out cast of collaborators lending a hand.

The latest (and final) addition is recent breakout success Theresa Andersson, who's just wrapped recording with the band for the song "Straight," newly reworked and confirmed for inclusion on the upcoming release.

Twits not wits

Gotta say since I joined twitter and started reading the posts it seems like an awful lot of mental energy is being sucked down the drain. Plus people are wrecking trains and getting into car accidents while being twits. I really don't want to know what all my friends are doing every minute of the day, either. It kind of reminds me of those three hour teenage phone calls. I'm going to keep at it meanwhile just to see if I have any conceptual breakthrough on its worth. Meanwhile I'm totally committed to blogging as a communications exercise, like an instant pamphlet. Here's a link to a great piece of video outside what used to be the Spotted Cat on Frenchmen Street.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bon Jovi fans suck

So it was going to come to this. Jazz Fest was eventually going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg by insisting on expanding its audience past the point where the people care anything about New Orleans or the city's musical heritage. The fans who came out to see Bon Jovi on Saturday finally proved the point. Their were only interested in seeing their boy and watched Dr. John's warmup set with glazed animosity. One guy in the front spent much of the set vigorously giving the thumbs down to Dr. John: "Get off the stage!" Make way for Bon Jovi, right? What a joke! I guess we ought to be thankful that Mac wasn't showered with a steady chorus of boos or pelted with garbage. So I guess we'll move on to Ozzy or perhaps Metallica next year.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Jazz Fest's triumphant first weekend

"Four years ago people said there would be no 40th anniversary of Jazz Fest," the preacher said in a stentorian cadence to the crowd in the Gospel tent on the first weekend of the festival. "But they don't know that JESUS lives in New Orleans!"
It was news to me as well, but it's certainly clear that the whole range of global spirits are pumping their blessings into New Orleans during this remarkable time. Much of the city is still in ruins, but its culture is unassailable, bolstered by an astonishing array of fellow travelers from around the country and all across the world. Bands from Africa, France and Brazil were among the first weekend highlights, and a new generation of local musicians are stepping into the role of carriers of the flame for New Orleans music and for the emperiled future of southern Louisiana in general.
The death of Snooks Eaglin and Eddie Bo, two of the most iconic Jazz Fest performers, expanded the giant loss of the old school New Orleans legends that has accelerated in the aftermath of the hurricane Katrina flood of 2005, leading OffBeat magazine to raise the heretical question: "Is New Orleans R&B dead?" Though most of the practioners of this cherished tradition are indeed gone their music lives on in younger players who are carrying the spirit of their music forward.
Though he no longer resides in New Orleans, Wynton Marsalis has assumed an elder statesman's role in New orleans music. His masterpiece, Congo Square, will be remembered as one of this festivals' highlights, and he also performed a wonderful Duke Ellington tribute with his Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, an organization that continues to spotlight talented young jazz musicians from New Orleans.
Other young players stepped up their game at Jazz Fest to fill the giant shoes of their musical forebearers -- Trombone Shorty, Schatzy, Amanda Shaw, Marc Broussard, Benjy Davis and the Pine Leaf Boys all turned in outstanding sets.
The young artist that has shown the most growth since Katrina, though, is Tab Benoit, the Cajun vocalist and guitarist who has become the leading voice for saving the wetlands that are literally all that's left of all southern Louisiana, a landscape that is rapidly being sucked into the Gulf of Mexico by massive erosion.
The organizers of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival have done an outstanding job of linking the city's indigenous music to related sounds from around the world. The first weekend witnessed great performances from South Africa's Hugh Masakela, who plays the flugelhorn with a bright intensity over a bed of African rhythms that are cousin to the pulses heard in New Orleans R&B.
France contributed two of the most interesting acts of the weekend, Tarace Boulba, a combination brass band and vocal group that created a sound totally suited to the streets of New Orleans (they also played a late night gig at the Blue Nile) and Bombes2Bal, a stripped down rhythm and voice ensemble from France that used call and response chants, an archaic fiddle, accordion and percussion to fashion a hypnotic dance music. They played at the children's tent and induced nearly the entire crowd to form a giant ring dance in front of the stage.
The music drives relentlessy on. Monday night the new Rock & Bowl hosted a tribute to Snooks Eaglin, who played there regularly, curated by one of the city's greatest musical resources, guitarist Brint Anderson. Anderson skillfully led his own group through several sets of Snooks favorites before bringing up Tab Benoit, Anders Osborne, George Porter Jr. and finally Big Chief Monk Boudreaux to pay tribute to Snooks.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Wynton returns

Wynton Marsalis returned to New Orleans for a spectacular performance of his masterpiece, Congo Square, presented in all its glory in the only truly appropriate setting on Planet Earth, the Congo Square stage at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The event, which felt like Marsalis was plumbing the deepest roots of his cultural history, was a homecoming for Wynton on a scale with his historic performance of Majesty of the Blues, a turning point in his career. Wyon plays again today with his Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and is reportedly going to sit in with Irvin Mayfield tonight at Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse in the Royal Sonesta Hotel.

Friday, April 24, 2009

New Orleans Jazz Festival opens with strong lineup

The New orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the world's greatest music festival, begins today. This 40th annual renewal has an incredibly strong lineup that makes creates some very difficult choices. At some point this afternoon I'm going to deviate from my schedule to just circle the Fair Grounds and let whatever is happening hit me.
Friday's MTA: Joe Cocker, Spoon.
Recommended itinerary:
11:15-11:40 High Ground Drifters (Fais Do-Do)
11:45- 12:10 Mem Shannon (Acura)
12:15-12:40 Como Now (Gospel)
12:45-1:15 Connie Jones (Economy Hall)
1:20-1:30 Benji Davis Project (Gentilly)
1:35-2:00 Willis Prudhomme (Fais Do-Do)
2:05-2:30 Semolian Warriors Mardi Gras Indians (Jazz & Heritage)
2:40-3:45 Roy Rogers (Blues)
3:50-4:10 New Orleans Night Crawlers (Jazz & Heritage)
4:15-4:35 Donald Harrison (Jazz)
4:40-7:00 Wynton Marsalis (Congo Square)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Jazz Fest pumps New Orleans economy

While I still think they should honor Dr. John for speaking his mind instead of browbeating him, the corporate honchos at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival have created a powerful economic engine for the city of New Orleans. Jazz Fest is now the city's signature event alongside Mardi Gras. Check out Jay Mazza's excellent history of the first 20 years of the fest: =

Monday, April 20, 2009

French Quarter Fest Day Three

Wow. Tom McDermott, a true New Orleans piano hero. The Nightcrawlers, a band started by McDermott but now on their own, once again featuring the great sousaphonist Matt Perrine. Jason Mingledorff on saxophones. Davis Rogan leading 100 kids from the International School in awesome versions of "What A Wonderful World" and "Mardi Gras Mambo." Some of the city's best known names could learn a lesson in sincerity from the emotional commitment the kids brought to those songs. Alvin the tray player from Pat O'Brien's jamming with the Bucktown All Stars. Trombone Shorty, whose charisma seems to grow daily, blistering the paint off the hulls of passing tankers with the intensity of his band's sound. The Radiators closing it all out like only they can do. It was unfortunate timing for Gambit's Music Awards to be taking place at the same time as French Quarter Fest. It was even more unfortunate that the Radiators walked over after finishing their gig only to be snubbed in the voting for Best Rock Band, an award which was unjustly presented to Rotary Downs, a fine band but simply not in the same league as the Radiators. On the plus side, Gambit publisher Clancy DuBos gave a stirring speech denouncing Gov. Boobie "Earthquake" Jindal's jerkwater pogrom against public arts funding. Boobie must have nightmares about "Pisschrist" showing up at a local museum. Inherit the wind, Boobie. Clint Maedgen was really entertaining as the show's main host and scene stealer. Art Neville was cracking the audience up with his ad libs and lack of interest in the teleprompter script. "I can't even see that thing," Art said.
The most spectacular moment of the night was Theresa Andersson's performance, a stunningly cutting edge and creative showcase of her vocal, instrumental and electronic skills. The crowd ate it up. Theresa continues to evolve into one of the city's truly original new artists.
Dr. John won a couple of awards and got a chance to answer the corporate critics who've been lambasting him for having the temerity to suggest that Jazz Fest sponsor Shell should bear some of the blame for the destruction of the Louisiana coastline that led to the inundation of New Orleans. Dr John was forced to offer a detailed apology to the Jazz Fest and Shell in Sunday's New Orleans Times Picayune. So much for free speech. But Dr. John had the last word: "If you don't stand for something, you've got nothing to stand on."
Thank you, Mac, and as for Shell, I'd like to know how much of that precious money goes to Louisiana artists as opposed to carpetbagging has beens like Bon Jovi and the usual overpaid corporate executives.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

French Quarter Fest Day Two

Pity the poor musicians who had to play opposite the Lost Bayou Ramblers Saturday at the U.S. Mint. Not only did the Ramblers draw everyone to their stage, they had a huge crowd backed up on Barracks Street. The band is the latest example of a new generation of Louisiana roots music, a hybrid of Cajun, Zydeco and rock sensibilities. The fiddler saws away in the great bayou tradition, but the way the bassist slaps and sunders his upright goes right past punk, back to rock's ancient roots in rockabilly. Shades of Jay Miller's Crowley studio!
Big ups for Fatien, another terrific hybrid of African drumming with local musicians including Dr. Michael White on clarinet, Jason Marsalis on vibraphone and Michael Skinkus on drums. Marc Stone is out of this world on steel guitar in this lineup.
The original Hurrican Brass Band ought to make commercials for the chamber of commerce. "We want you to go back to the rest of the United States," they told the crowd, "and tell them New orleans is back." As if to put an exclamation point on the message, the band proceeded to play "Back Home in Indiana."
Though they're not part of the Fest, check out the Shufflin' Crustaceans at the Crazy Lobster.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

French Quarter Fest

French Quarter Fest began with a bang Friday as two of the best acts in the whole lineup, Marc Stone and Brother Tyrone, kicked off the proceedings at 11 am Friday. Stone, a great guitarist and songwriter, played some of the outstanding new material from his forthcoming album. Brother Tyrone has been around forever but is just breaking outwith his great classic soul sound. French Quarter Fest has become a Godzilla monster since its halcyon days as a laid back festival for the locals on the streets of the French Quarter. Back then the music was almost all traditional jazz and brass band music, but today it's a sweeping reflection of Louisiana music in which the French Quarter stages are completely swamped by the massive crowds gathered along the river and at the U. S. Mint. My Friday highlights included the great young Cajun band Feufollet, the Soul Rebels, and The Posse, a terrific band led by drummer Kevin O'Day and bassist Reggie Scanlan, featuring the incomparable Tim Green on tenor. Really enjoyed the Tin Men, driven by the amazing percussion work of Washboard Chazz, Matt Perrine's virtuoso sousaphone playing and the great songwriting and guitar playing of Alex McMurray. Perrine had a great time answering the bellowing blasts from the Steamboat Natchez as it left the dock. The interaction of the river and the music is one of the most endearing things about French Quarter Fest. There are some very cool little hangouts associated with the whole deal as well, like the back garden of MRB on St. Philip Street, where international traditional jazz bands realize their dream of playing New Orleans jazz in the Crescent City in front of exuberant crowds that are well oiled with New Orleans jazz juice.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Finally, my SXSW blog

I had to clear my desk for some other writing before I could get to this, but here is the beginning of my episodic account of SXSW 2009:

Every SXSW takes on its own contour, but for me as the years go by
the center has drifted inexorably southward as I've concentrated my
stays more and more in South Austin. The joy of arriving in Austin on
an 82 degree day and being able to wear shorts and a light shirt was
mitigated by the sense of encroaching development that is slowly
choking this beautiful city to death. It sure didn't look like there
was a housing crisis in Austin as both commercial skyscrapers and
condos were getting being built left and right, but for the flora and
nonhuman fauna it's looking tough. Nice to see that the scores of
creekbeds running through town are now not only dried up from
overdevelopment but being used as dump sites for trash and who knows
what other kind of waste.

It was hard not to think about all this because this year's SXSW had
a kind of subtext, at least for some of us, in that it marks the
tenth year of Doug Sahm's passing. Sahm, from just about two hours
down the road in San Antonio, lived in Austin when even though it was
the state capitol it was still a sleepy college town, a place where
you could swim in some of those now dry creeks and music mattered
more than just about anything else. Sahm called it "Groover's
Paradise," wrote an album by the same name with the Creedence
Clearwater Revival rhythm section backing him up, and pretty much set
the template for Austin as a musician's enclave. More than one
person described him during the week as a kind of psychological
centerpiece for Austin life back in the late 20th century.

SXSW had a number of special events geared up to remember Sahm
including a panel discussion on the 40th anniversary of the Mendocino
album by the band Doug led with sidekick Augie Myers on organ, the
Sir Douglas Quintet. Author Bill Bentley, who moderated the panel and
who edits the great website, produced a Doug Sahm
tribute album for Vanguard records that was released during SXSW and
Vanguard sponsored a listening party for the release. Then there was
a multi-band tribute to Doug's music at Antone's, and several
performances by Augie Myers and Doug's son Shawn Sahm.

I arrived in Austin on March 17, St. Patrick's Day, with the melody
from Joe Hurley's great song "Amsterdam Mistress" still running
through my head after his epochal Irish music revue at Le Poisson
Rouge in New York the Saturday before. My main objective was to see
Ian McLagan play the St. Patrick's Day party at the Dog and Duck.
Last year McLagan's awesome set, totally in the spirit of his magic
days with the Faces, was one of the highlights of my SXSW, and Ian
has just released a great new album to boot. This free show was as I
say my main objective but first I had to stop by the annual BMI
"Howdy Texas" party and get my first plateful of Texas barbecue at
Stubbs. Within seven days I would not want to see another slice of
brisket or anything resembling Mexican food either until the next
SXSW but that first smoky, tender, greasy bite was a piece of heaven.

There's always good music at that BMI bash as well and Those Darlins
fit the bill this year, a trio of cowgirl Tennessee country punk rockers
backed by a guy drummer. Their singing was just imperfect enough to
be great and they slammed away on a nifty combination of originals
and deep country/hillbilly covers.

Though I walked out of Stubbs thinking I'd be going to the Dog and Duck SXSW was ready with one of its eternal cosmic twists and I was redirected to a rare opportunity to catch the great Jimmie Vaughan at Antone's. Though I regretted passing on Mac I knew I had to see Jimmie and boy was I not disappointed. He played a lengthy set backed by a band which included old favorite George Rains on drums, a three piece horn section including Kaz Kazanoff and Greg Piccolo, but
mostly Jimmie playing dirty, slightly distorted blues guitar and
singing in a natural, relaxed voice. Vaughan played blues
instrumentals, T Bone Walker shuffles, San Antonio treasures and
debuted the song he contributed to the Doug Sahm tribute album, "Why
Why Why." Later in the set Lou Ann Barton joined in and sang several
great numbers, including a sensational, smouldering "In the Middle of
the Night." Well, that was the end of the night for me.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Stars over Texas

Sifting through the jumble of impressions after SXSW I'm left with a couple of overriding images -- Jimmie Vaughan playing better than I've ever heard him, both fronting a Texas R&B combo with a three piece horn section at Antone's and a jazz organ combo upstairs at the Continental Club; an astonishingly terse and riveting set on a scale with the Otis Redding Stax Revue from Andre Williams backed by the amazing Allen Oldies Band; and the sensuous, monumental artistic purity of Theresa Andersson, who has arrived as the next big New Orleans star.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Eddie Bo joins his buddies

I'm sitting in an outdoor patio in Austin, Texas during SXSW and an old friend asked me who was left among the great New Orleans musicians. Eddie Bo was the first name off my lips, but I didn't realize he had passed away that very day. What a joy it was to see and hear him perform!

Here's the New Orleans Times Picayune obit by Keith Spera:

Eddie Bo, a potent, eclectic New Orleans pianist, singer, songwriter and producer who inspired a dance craze with his 1962 hit "Check Mr. Popeye" and later directed fans to "Check Your Bucket," died Wednesday, March 18, of a heart attack. He was 79.

A prolific artist, Mr. Bo adroitly distilled an excitable synthesis of rock 'n roll, rhythm & blues, jazz and funk.

"He was one of the last great New Orleans piano professors, kind of a bridge between Professor Longhair and Allen Toussaint," said New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival producer Quint Davis. "Everyone now has to remember to check their bucket on their own, without Eddie to tell us."

Born Edwin Joseph Bocage, Mr. Bo grew up in Algiers and the 9th Ward. He was heavily influenced by the piano style of Professor Longhair; he also gravitated to the jazz phrasing of George Shearing, Oscar Peterson and Art Tatum.

After graduating from Booker T. Washington High School, he served in the Army. Upon his return to New Orleans, he studied arranging and composing at the Grunewald School of Music, a training ground for scores of professional musicians.

He fronted various bands and wrote and released singles for the Ace, Ric, Apollo and Chess labels. In addition to "Check Mr. Popeye," which was inspired by the cartoon character, his hits included 1969's "Hook and Sling," which reached No. 13 on Billboard's R&B chart.

Other artists fared well with his songs. Little Richard adapted Mr. Bo's "I'm Wise" as "Slippin' and Slidin." Etta James scored a 1959 hit with his "Dearest Darling." He is credited with writing Oliver Morgan's signature "Who Shot the La La."

In 1975, Mr. Bo semi-retired from music and left New Orleans after the failure of both his marriage and a North Rampart Street club, El Grande, in which he had invested heavily. He said he "couldn't make ends meet spiritually" as a carpenter.

Neither his retirement nor exile were permanent. By 1989 he was back in New Orleans following seven years in Miami, where he studied at the Yahweh Institute. The institute, he said, "teaches men that we should seek love and distribute love, and seek to be moral." It was around that time that Mr. Bo started wearing a turban-like diadem on his head.

By the early 1990s, he was touring Japan and Europe, appearing on albums with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and George Porter Jr., and holding down an evening solo piano gig at Margaritaville. A German label issued his funk album "Shoot From the Root" in 1996. In 1998, he released "Nine Yards of Funk" on his own label.

He also busied himself with non-musical pursuits. He briefly operated a club, the Check Your Bucket Cafe, and ran a health food store with his sisters.

In 1999, an electrical fire destroyed the Tulane Avenue building that housed the health food store. Mr. Bo also lived in the building. The fire claimed his two keyboards, along with master tapes of unreleased and previously released recordings, musical charts he had painstakingly written over the years, and a collection of his own classic 45s.

Scores of musicians -- contemporaries as well as younger musicians influenced by him -- volunteered to perform at a benefit concert in the wake of the fire. "It gives me a deep, deep feeling of not really knowing how people care, until you have to experience something like this," he said. "Then you really know who your friends are."

His most pressing need, he said at the time, was to replace his keyboards. "I'll try everything I can to get another keyboard," he said, "because I'm lost without something to play."

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Don't Miss Joe Hurley's 10th annual Paddy's Day bash

Joe Hurley is one the greatest singer/songwriters to emerge on the
New York scene in the last 20 years. The Irish American Hurley is
equally adept on traditional material and contemporary rockers,
having gotten his start covering Pogues material as leader of the
Hurley has written the sing-along anthems "Shut Up and Drink,"
"Amsterdam Mistress" and "Irish Breakfast in a Greek diner." The
versatile entertainer also has an excellent backing band called the
One of Hurley's best runs comes each year around St. Patrick's Day
when he mounts his All-Star Irish Rock Revue.
This year Hurley will celebrate the 10th anniversary of this event
with shows at Le Poisson Rouge on March 14th and 17th.
Hurley got what amounts to the papal blessing for New York based
Irish musicians when the Chieftains requested him to sit in with them
March 12 at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, New Jersey.
At Le Poisson Rouge Hurley and friends will also be celebrating the
80th Birthday of the fabled weekly newspaper for Irish culture in
America, the Irish Echo.
Hurley gathers a host of friends and musical celebrities each year
to make up The All-Star Irish Rock Revue, from punk-rock legends to
Broadway stars, best-selling novelists and star comedians.
2008's All-Star Irish Rock Revue included Fountains of Wayne singer
Chris Collingwood, cabaret Star Maude Maggart, Stew and his band from
Broadway's 'Passing Strange,' UK comic Star Stephen Frost, and
Ireland's The High Kings.
Performers at previous Revues have included R&R Hall of Famer
Ronnie Spector, Eugene Hutz (Gogol Bordello), Martha
Wainwright, producer Tony Visconti, Kristeen Young, members of The New York Dolls, The Dictators, Richard Hell & The Voidoids, Television's Richard Lloyd, Laura Cantrell, Ellen Foley, Patti Smith Band's Lenny Kaye & Tony Shanahan, James Mastro (Ian Hunter) and Nada Surf's frontman Matthew Caws. Broadway Stars Annie Golden and Tony-winner Michael Cerveris have also participated along with film star Antonique Smith. Irish guests have included the chart-topping
Republic of Loose, Susan McKeown, and international best-selling
novelist Colum McCann. Hurley has also called on indie cult artists
Steve Wynn, Joey Ramone co-writer/producer Daniel Rey, King Missile's
John S. Hall and SNL band's frontwoman Christine Ohlman, not to
mention downtown legends like James Chance and Willie Nile.
2009's Rock Revue band features Music Director, Jon Spurney (MD of
Kenny Margolis (CRACKER); Megan Weeder (MELLENCAMP); downtown's Tish
and Snooky, Christian Cassan (Passing Strange) and more.
Joe Hurley's band will play at 8 pm. That group will include TONY
(Rosanne Cash); and KENNY MARGOLIS (Cracker).
The Irish Rock Revue will also feature an opening act at 7 pm, The Mercantillers. In between acts, dancing to Irish rock classics will be courtesy of EVR Radio DJ Gaz Thomas. GUINNESS will be the 'drink special' all night long with a cheaper pint than anywhere in town!
This 10th anniversary show is not to be missed!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Trombone Shorty documentary wins award

The Beverly Hills Shorts Fest has honored Eric Alan Donaldson and L. Lonnie Peralta with the award for Best Documentary for the film they co-directed, produced and edited, “Trombone Shorty.” Associate producer on the project was Joan Myers, of Myers Media who brought the project to them.
The filmmaking duo own and operate production and post-production studio FXF Productions in Venice, CA. Los Angeles natives and friends since seventh grade, the partners teamed up in high school to shoot their first music video. Since then they have gone on to work on a variety of projects together that include action sports films, music videos, commercials and documentaries.
“Trombone Shorty” is an after-the-storm-look at New Orleans' next generation musical prodigy, Troy (Trombone Shorty) Andrews. From the historic, yet troubled Treme neighborhood, where brass bands, jazz and the tradition of second line is a way of life, this 22-year-old has worked tirelessly to beat the odds so he can do what he loves most – play his horn.
Even before he had an instrument, Andrews would emulate the great jazz musicians of New Orleans’ past by using a cardboard box as a snare drum or his Big Wheel as a tuba.
Donaldson and Peralta spent five days in New Orleans with Andrews, capturing his everyday life and getting a first-hand look at the post Katrina devastation.
“Troy Andrews is blessed with the gift of musical ear play and performance,” says Donaldson, “The hardest part of capturing the true brilliance of who he is in a short, is deciding what to cut.”
Andrews played for Bo Diddley at the age of five. After finishing eighth grade, he was admitted a year early to the prestigious New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, where alumni include Wynton and Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr.
Troy Andrews says, “There’s only 5% of the world, or 10% at most of people that really get a chance to do what they really want to do, and I happen to be a part of that. That’s the ultimate blessing right there.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mardi Gras ends on mixed note

If you weren't among the dozen people who were shot during the last hectic days of Mardi Gras in New Orleans you probably had a pretty good time. Violence has long plagued this city and unfortunately 2009 isn't shaping us as a particularly peaceful year. Nevertheless the party continued unabated and some amazing music went down along with Zulu's 100th anniversary parade and a strong lineup of Mardi Gras Indian sightings. I was really looking forward to the Mardi Gras Indian Orchestra at the Hi Ho Lounge and the event did not disappoint. Kevin O'Day set a powerful pulse on drums and Reggie Scanlan rolled bass lines over three sets as guitarists Papa Mali and Camile Baudoin churned away and Evan Christopher played masterfully on clarinet and soprano saxophone. Sunpie Barnes and an appearance by the Skeletons accounted for the Mardi Gras Indian quotient, and the crowd sang along lustily to "Handa Wanda," "Meet the Boys On the Battlefront," "Big Chief," "Mardi Gras In New Orleans," "Indian Red" and other classics.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Drowning in Mardi Gras madness

I have to confess I just can't keep up. Mardi Gras has been on a relentless surge for weeks and I am spinning from the input of parades, mini festivals and mind boggling concerts, Tomorrow's Mardi Gras Indian Orchestra at the Hi Ho Lounge is going to be something for the ages, I'm pretty sure. Now to go see the Zulu King.

Oh yeah, here's info on a free Bonerama download:



Celebrate Fat Tuesday at to download an exclusive new single by Mardi Gras veterans Bonerama. launched in January promising to make every Tuesday Fat Tuesday, by offering exclusive music releases or free downloads every Tuesday this year.

Anchored by the music of New Orleans' own Bonerama and Porter Batiste Stoltz, commemorates their hometown's most famous holiday with brand new music and a year of free downloads. Thinking outside the box to offer fans access to rare and unreleased music, will deliver funky new music each Tuesday all year long. The release might be a live show, a single of a brand new song, or an archival release from the bands' vaults. But remember to visit often - all the free material released is available only for one week; until the next Tuesday, when new tunes are featured.

Bonerama's Single Series, where the band releases one new single at a time, kicks off on Fat Tuesday with the release of their brand new song, "Big Fine Woman," available at While you're there, sign up to receive free music every Tuesday this year, and visit back for offers on never before heard studio releases, exclusive live performances, and more. - Every Tuesday is Fat Tuesday.

Both Bonerama and Porter Batiste Stoltz are on tour now. Tour dates are as follows.

Bonerama -
March 13 The Howlin' Wolf North Shore New Orleans LA
March 14 Mid City Lanes New Orleans LA
March 27 City Limits Live Delray Beach FL
March 28 Aces Lounge Bradenton FL
April 04 The Swamp Thing and Crawfish Festival Austin TX
April 10 Maple Leaf New Orleans LA
April 18 Rummel High School Fundraiser New Orleans LA
April 19 French Quarter Festival New Orleans LA
April 23 Tipitina's New Orleans LA
April 24 Festival International de Louisiana Lafayette LA
April 25 Mid City Lanes New Orleans LA
May 02 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival New Orleans LA
May 02 Mid City Lanes New Orleans LA
May 03 Maple Leaf New Orleans LA
May 16 Tropical Heat Wave Tampa FL
May 29 Michael Arnone's Crawfish Festival Augusta NJ
May 30 Western Maryland Blues Festival Hagerstown MD

Porter Batiste Stoltz -
March 17 Owsley's Golden Road Denver CO featuring Kyle Hollingsworth
March 18 Boulder Theater Boulder CO featuring Kyle Hollingsworth
March 19 Winter Concert Series Telluride CO
March 26 Space Evanston IL
March 27 Trocaderos Minneapolis MN with Karl Denson's Tiny Universe
March 28 Overture Center for the Arts Madison WI
April 26 Howlin' Wolf New Orleans LA
May 02 Tipitina's New Orleans LA featuring Page McConnell
May 16 Joshua Tree Music Festival Joshua Tree CA
May 29 Mountain Jam Hunter NY
June 04 Wakarusa Ozark AR
June 05 Wakarusa Ozark AR

Friday, February 20, 2009

Supernatural Ball a Nat'chl Gas

Papa Mali's Supernatural Ball at Tipitina's Thursday night was a phenomenal success. Papa Mali and John Mooney played a great acoustic set to start things off and ended with a lengthy electric jam featuring members of Groovesect, the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble and bassist George Porter Jr. The Snake Ensemble, with New Orleans bassist Jimbo Walsh sitting in, tore it up fresh from parading with MUSES and reprising the tune they played during the parade, "Goldfinger." The whole Supernatural Ball was a lovefest for Snooks Eaglin. Rev. Goat Carson gave an invocation to him with Uganda playing congas, Glen David Andrews dropped by and turned the place upside down, getting the crowd to chant "Snooks...Snooks...Snooks" during his "When I die I want a second line" section of "Do Whatcha Wanna," and Chief Monk told the crowd about how Snooks was one of the people he listened to when he was coming up.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Snooks Eaglin Jan. 21 1936 - Feb. 18 2009

Fird Eaglin Jr. was one of the greatest guitarists in the history of New Orleans music, a self taught genius who could play fluently in any style and had an encyclopedic knowledge of songs. An operation to remove a tumor blinded him when he was a baby. Snooks began copying the songs he heard on radio and records at age six and became a session player in New Orleans during his teens, playing on Sugarboy Crawford's iconic hit "Jockomo" and leading the popular local band the Flamingos, which also included Allen Toussaint. Eaglin began his recording career in 1958 with Folkways records, which documented him playing songs by Leadbelly and other musicians in the blues street music tradition that was then considered a subtext of folk music. Those sessions were reissued on the 2005 Smithsonian Folkways release New Orleans Street Singer, which showcases his soulful vocals and completely unique fingerpicking style. Beginning in 1960 Eaglin really clicked with Imperial Records under the auspices of producer Dave Bartholomew, making a series of great R&B sides featuring his distinctive voice and single line guitar work backed by an excellent band. Highlights of that era include "Yours Truly," "Cover Girl," "Don't Slam That Door" and "That Certain Door." Eaglin was one of the many forgotten New Orleans artists whose careers were resurrected by the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival when he was paired with Professor Longhair at the 1971 festival. He reignited his legend on the Jazzfest stages and revived his recording career on Black Top Records in the 1980s, releasing four albums with the label, including Baby, You Can Get Your Gun(1987)," Out of Nowhere (1988) and Soul's Edge (1995). In 2003 the live Soul Train from Nawlins came out on P-Vine records. Eaglin continued to play at Mid City Lanes with George Porter Jr. offering sympathetic backup on bass until last year.