A Memorial for McNee

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When we arrived in the 3200 block of Burgundy Street, right in the heart of the Bywater neighborhood that was so loved by the influential musician Hart McNee, we were immediately handed buttons that read, “I (heart) Hart.” They could have read “I Hart (heart),” since the feelings and sentiments that surrounded the people who had gathered to pay tribute to the deceased musician were all about love. Friends and family, some in costume, turned out, some with babies in tow, including photographer Jenny Bagert. Her 6-week old son’s middle name is Hart.

The Storyville Stompers- photo- Kim Welsh

The Storyville Stompers- photo- Kim Welsh

White boy second lines, as I affectionately call these gatherings, can be dubious on both musical and spiritual levels. While clearly emulating the age-old traditions of black New Orleans, they often go awry losing focus on the deceased or ignoring the rituals. So it was fitting that the parade featured two bands- the Storyville Stompers in all of their traditional glory- and the Bywater Brass Band, a musically less staid ensemble loaded with McNee’s musical compatriots from the tight knit downtown scene.

Matt Perrine, Davis Rogan, Dave Sobel- photo- Kim Welsh

Matt Perrine, Davis Rogan, Dave Sobel- photo- Kim Welsh

Alex McMurray, Davis Rogan and Dave Sobel, McNee’s collaborator on record, wielded bass drums. Sousaphonist Matt Perrine directed the band with his usual effervescent panache- signaling changes and directly solos.  Carlo Nuccio played snare drum along with Hart’s son, Felix.   The music was solid, frenetic and bordering at times on cacophony- but this was no amateur band just blowing because they could. Some of the instrumentalists included saxophonists Robert Wagner, Martin Krusche, and Dan Oestreicher. Rick Trolsen played trombone and Ian Smith and A.J. Pittman were on trumpets.  Janna Sanslaw had her tiny picolo flute. Washboard Chaz sported his eponymous instrument. Matt Rhody, better known as the violinist with the Hot Club of New Orleans and other bands, played a trumpet. The whole ensemble played Hart’s style of music- heartfelt, pardon the pun, with rhythmic intensity.

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Henry "Red" Griffin- photo- Kim Welsh

The Bywater Brass Band played in the street before the procession got under way. Then the Storyville Stompers took over playing the hymns and dirges that are the traditional sounds associated with jazz funerals. A couple of giant photos of McNee led the way along with Grand Marshall Henry “Red” Griffin. A gap opened between the two bands and the parade followers gracefully moved between the two divisions as the spirit and music moved them.

At one point, a true New Orleans musical moment culminated the early part of the parade. The Bywater band fell silent, the two distinct ensembles connected by the spirit of the moment. The followers crowded around the traditional jazz musicians as they formed a semi-circle in the street and the sweet clarinet of Bruce Brachman led the group though the saddest and most spiritual of all the dirges- “Just a Closer Walk With Thee.” A lone bearded and shirtless man watched from his dilapidated balcony with concentrated reverence. Then it was time to jump- the sadness dissipating into the joy of the parade and the camaraderie of friends and family.

combined band in D.B.A.- photo- Kim Welsh

combined band in D.B.A.- photo- Kim Welsh

By the time the parade reached Frenchmen Street, euphoria ruled the atmosphere. The bands merged as musicians fell in and out of the procession. Parasols twirled, dancers spun and more than one person buck jumped with all the intensity they could muster. Then, everyone that could crowded into D.B.A. for a coda that could only happen on the streets of New Orleans.

Sian Alice Group to Play the Circle Bar Tonight

sianThe UK-based Sian Alice Group is headlining tonight on a five week tour of North America. The band is touring in support of their recently released and acclaimed second full-length Troubled, Shaken Etc., which has received acclaim from a number of press outlets including Spin (***1/2), All Music Guide (****), Uncut (****), Drowned In Sound (8/10), Clash Magazine (8/10) and XLR8R. Venus Zine describes it as “an amalgamation of folk rock, prog, and dance with influences ranging from Hounds Of Love–era Kate Bush to Bat For Lashes to Gang Gang Dance. The experimentation with different genres and instruments leaves the audience enthralled.”

Save Charity Hospital Throws a Party with Legendary Musicians (Click to find out who)

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This evening, September 19, 2009, the organization whose mission is the save Charity Hospital will be hosting a benefit show at the Howlin’ Wolf featuring the Low Rider Band. Because of legal issues this group is really named War. They feature three of the four original members including legendary harmonica genius Lee Oskar. They are enjoined from using the name or even mentioning it in press materials. But be forewarned- this is the real deal. The other band, touring as War, only includes one original member. Ivan Neville and friends open the show and it’s only FIVE dollars.

Memorial Second Line Parade for Hart McNee this Afternoon

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The second line for Hart will start at his old house at 3212 Burgundy St. (between Piety and Louisa Streets) at 2 PM. It will proceed up Burgundy St. to Press St, down Press to Chartres, up Chartres to Port (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.

Rebirth Brass Band to Appear this Evening

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The Concerts in the Courtyard series at the Historic New Orleans Collection continues this evening, September 18, 2009 with a performance by the mighty Rebirth Brass Band. The courtyard setting at 533 Royal Street is one of the true hidden gems of the French Quarter. NOLA Brewing will serve beer and it’s included in the $10 admission. The Rebirth truly need no introduction. Hearing them in this delightful setting will be a treat.

Harvest the Music Series Begins This Afternoon

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While the weather isn’t quite fall-like as of yet, the music begins again this afternoon at Lafayette Square.  Today’s act is blues/soul singer and guitarist Eric Lindell.  I saw his performance with Dragon Smoke at Tipitina’s this past Friday night and was impressed by his ability to bring the funk.  No word yet on who will be in his backing band.  The performance is from 5- 7:30 PM.

Nickel-A-Dance Series Announces 15th Year Schedule

Lionel Ferbos, New Orleans' oldest jazzman, will close the series

Lionel Ferbos, New Orleans' oldest jazzman, will close the series

Every Sunday afternoon in October, jazz musicians will entertain music lovers and dancers at La Maison de la Musique. The club, which was formerly known as Ray’s Boom Boom, is located at 508 Frenchmen Street. The performances are from 4-7 PM.

The schedule is as follows- Oct. 4: Gregg Stafford & His Jazz Hounds, Oct. 11: Lucien Barbarin’s Jazz Band, Oct. 18: Tom Fischer’s West End Rhythm Kings and Oct. 25: Lionel Ferbos and the Palm Court Jazz Band.

La Maison de la Musique, which is under new ownership, features many renovations and improvements, a wrap-around balcony, big dance floor, renovated restrooms, and a new sound system.

The Nickel-A-Dance Soirees began with one concert in 1994. As they have done in the past, a group of anonymous music fans continue to join together with the Jazz Centennial Celebration and a growing list of sponsors to celebrate jazz. The Nickel-A-Dance Soirées have helped revive the neighborhood dance traditions that used to be widespread across the city. For more information, call 947-6155.

Portland, Oregon-based Rock Band Locke n Load at Checkpoint Charlie

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Tonight, September 15, 2009, Portland, Oregon-by-way-of-Los Angeles-based rock outfit, Locke n Load - J.T. Locke (vocals, guitar), Johnny Locke (drums/vocals), Jorge Herrera (guitar/vocals), and Samantha Wilder (bass/vocals) – will perform in New Orleans and will debut songs from their forthcoming sophomore full-length, “Not In It For the Conversation” (Gunite Records), the follow-up to 2007’s “Celebrity Killing Spree” (Gunite Records).

Fusing a punk mentality with shards of metal and hyperactiveness, Locke N Load deliver a crunchy, melodic, and ultimately fierce take on rock. It’s not metal. It’s not punk. And, it’s certaintly not pop music. And, though it retains elements of all these genres, Locke n Load simply like to be referred to as a rock band.

Freret Street to Become the New Frenchmen

Panorama Brass Band

Panorama Brass Band

I have been predicting it ever since the City Council authorized the zoning overlay permitting new alcoholic beverage outlets between Jefferson and Napoleon Avenues. Now it appears we are one step closer to redeveloping the area with new businesses catering to the night life. First it was Cure, an upscale cocktail establishment. Now the Box Office, located at 5037 Freret St. near the corner of Soniat St, is presenting live music. The Panorama Jazz Band performs tonight (September 15, 2009) and the Hot Club of New Orleans is scheduled for tomorrow evening. The shows start at 9 PM.

Evan Christopher’s Clarinet Road at Chickie Wah Wah

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Clarinet maestro Evan Christopher will be performing this evening (September 14, 2009) with his band, Clarinet Road.  The show is at 7 PM at Chickie Wah Wah on Canal Street.  Chickie Wah Wah is a smoke-free venue and the kitchen will be open.