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.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Having a good Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras has reached its All Star break right along with the NBA and heads into its sprint to the finish Wednesday seven straight days of parades, wall-to-wall music and continual merrymaking. Everyone who visits New Orleans asks how the recovery is going and the answer continues to be inconclusive. Downriver the French Quarter, Marigny and Bywater districts are thriving and renovations are ongoing everywhere. The houses on North Rampart Street that burned down around the corner from me last year are being rebuilt. Piety Street studio is going strong and Caffea is as reliable a coffee house as any in the city. Upriver the Garden district and generally everything from Napoleon Avenue to the river is going strong. But recovery in the rest of the city is pretty spotty. Monday's Times Picayune reported that half of the blighted houses in the city are still untouched. The story suggests a scandal that the Nagin administration has covered over so far but is illustrative of the corruption that has kept the recovery to a few high profile projects while funds for rebuilding New Orleans have been diverted or stolen. Millions of dollars were earmarked for the destruction of houses that were too damaged in the flood following Katrina. Much of that work was clearly not accomplished. Contractors neverthless submitted bills for the work and were paid by the city without verification that the work was done. It took community activists to do the research and discover that the city was paying for work that wasn't being done. This lack of accountability on the city's part smells as bad as the rotting fish and dead animals that blanketed the city after the floodwaters receded. The same goes for the fight between the mayor and the city council over the outrageously expensive waste removal contract Nagin handed out after Katrina. When the city council asked for accountability on how this money was being spent it was rebuffed by the mayor's office, which resorted to the despicable use of racism charges to muddy the waters. It is not racist for public officials to demand that the city use the public's money wisely and be able to show where that money actually went. This is an insult to our president Barack Obama, who is trying to bring American politics into a new era where the divisions of color and religion are not the central issues but honesty, accountability and good government. Nagin is undermining Obama's agenda by calling his detractors racists when he can't defend his actions with honest numbers. This is especially true since New Orleans is such a high profile example of what needs to be fixed if the United States is going to overcome its current economic crisis.
Every now and then New Orleans gives us a glimpse of what the city really can accomplish when the chips are down. The police, fire and sanitation departments do an amazing job of organizing the action around the scores of Mardi Gras parades with a minimum of obstruction to traffic flow. Within minutes of each parade's end the streets are clean and traffic is rolling. If this kind of effort was put into rebuilding the neglected areas of town the recovery would be a lot further along than it is now.