Voodoo Picks- Day Two


Mas Mamones (Preservation Hall Stage at 1:15 PM) was a driving force in integrating Latin music into the sounds of Frenchmen Street in the late 1990s. They have reunited and this performance should be special for several reasons. The late Hart McNee was part of the original version of the band and his spirit will certainly be hovering over the proceedings. Singer Manny Lander recently returned to New Orleans and his voice has never sounded better. Michael Skinkus plays percussion- need I say more?

Irvin Mayfield (WWOZ Stage at 3:30 PM) had to cancel his appearance at last year’s Voodoo Music Experience because the stage crew failed to provide a piano, an instrument that is critical to the trumpeter’s modern jazz sound. I expect the band to pull on all the stops on this rare festival date in New Orleans. Mayfield, who wears many hats in New Orleans, always surrounds himself with the best musicians available. This is gonna be a great set.

KISS (Voodoo Stage at 9 PM) is celebrating the release of their first studio album in 11 years. But I could care less about that. The reason to see this band is because they are KISS. They put on a show! I had a copy of Destroyer in my formative years and until I discovered the Rolling Stones they were the hard rock act. A recent appearance on David Letterman confirmed the fact that they still remain a cultural phenomenon that only America could produce.

Voodoo Picks- Day One


Alejandro Escovedo (WWOZ Stage at 4:30 PM) puts on one the best shows around. He writes wonderful songs and surrounds himself with great musicians. His musical roots reflect all of the genres that are presented at the Voodoo Music Experience. He was a punk rocker in his youth, has experimented with the Tex-Mex sounds of his family roots and has emerged as a fully formed artist. His set at Jazz Fest was a highlight for me and I expect the same at Voodoo.

The TBC Brass Band (Preservation Hall Stage at 1 PM) has been tearing up the streets of New Orleans with a level of energy that rivals both the Dirty Dozen and the Rebirth when they were youngsters. The group comes on strong from the get go and doesn’t let up until everyone around them is dancing to beat the band. They are the only brass band performing today, so anyone from out of town needs to check them out.

The New Orleans Bingo Show! (Bingo! Parlor at 6:445 PM) has got to be one of the most eclectic outfits anywhere in the world. They have their own stage, which features some of the most interesting performers at the festival. Consider Ratty Scurvics who opens the stage at 11 AM. I saw this guy for the first time a couple of weeks ago. He threw spaghetti into the crowd; brought the biggest horn section I have ever seen on stage for a few songs; and broke the fourth wall to kiss an audience member. The Bingo Show! will have to out Ratty, Ratty and I have no doubt that they will.

Dr. John to Headline Benefit for the New Orleans Musicians Clinic


This evening, October 29, 2009, Dr. John and his band the Lower 911 will be performing at the House of Blues with special guests Irma Thomas, George Porter Jr. and the Rebirth Brass Band.  The Doors open at 7 PM.

Mark McGrain and Plunge Tonight at Snug Harbor


The trombonist Mark McGrain recently released one of the most interesting and soulful recordings that I have heard in years. The record, Dancing on Thin Ice, features Tim Green on saxophone and James Singleton on bass. There is no drummer. But throughout the recording, it feels as if there is one. Singleton may be the only bassist in the world who can imply the existence of a drummer. Tim Green’s sax work is as eclectic and electric as ever. McGrain, who has worked with a huge variety of acts since moving to New Orleans, has clearly found his New Orleans musical voice with great compositions and arrangements. It’s should be fascinating to hear how this music, which is compelling and heartfelt on the record, translates to the stage.

AC/DC to Headline the Arena Tonight


I once read a great quote from AC/DC’s lead guitarist Angus Young. He was discussing how rock musicians seem to think that they can some how progress as musicians. He was referring to the movement from punk to new wave in the context of some punks getting mellower as they age. The quote, and I am paraphrasing here went something like this- When I first got my sound, I immediately ripped out the innards of my guitar. I found my sound and ‘m never gonna change it. Then he added, “Rock musicians who think they are progressing, are just progressing straight up their own arses.”

The Music of Star Wars at the Arena Tonight


John Williams has composed some of the most brilliant scores to major motion pictures over the past few decades. Among them, the six Star Wars movies stand out. This evening, a live orchestra will present many of the themes while video from the films is projected on a large screen. An added bonus is that Anthony Daniels, the actor who played the ‘droid, C-3PO in the films, will be adding narration. The show is two hours long and includes an intermission.

This is one big show- here are some of the numbers-

12 semi trailers are needed to move the show

A 35 foot screen is mounted over the musicians to show the clips

The choir includes 60 people and there are 86 instruments in the orchestra

Great Jazz for Free at Bacchanal Tonight


This evening, October 26, 2009, the guitarist Jonathan Freilich will lead and all star band featuring Rob Wagner on reeds, James Singleton on bass and Dave Cappello on drums. The show begins at 8 PM and there is no cover charge- just fine wines and cheeses. Here’s the blurb from Valid Records about the show.

In most places, such an assemblage of unique and creative musical voices would be presented in some petrified art center or over-priced Jazz Club, but in New Orleans you can only find them in such places as an unlikely wine garden in the far corner of the Upper Ninth Ward. And that is why we like here (right?)–because art is is woven in the social fabric and not entombed in temples of “Kulture” or commerce–or at least it can still be, on the right occasion.

Unusual World Music Band at Snug Harbor Tonight- Brent Rose to Follow at Midnight for Free


Fra Fra Sound is a unique Suriname-Caribbean band based in Amsterdam that mixes together African, Caribbean and Latin American music, soul, blues, World Music and fun into its open-minded brand of jazz, along with concerns about current events and the environment. The band is especially popular in Europe but has been heard throughout the world. The band is a septet led by its founder bassist Vincent Henar who says, “Fra Fra Sound originally came out of community arts music activities in the late 1970s from an Amsterdam neighborhood where a large population of immigrants from Suriname would congregate.” The original group from 1980 mixed together jazz, African rhythms, Caribbean dance music and Surinamese kaseko. Today we sound only like ourselves. The guys in FFS are better educated, we have some

very skilled composers and arrangers in the group, and some of the musicians have become specialists and connoisseurs in African-rooted arts. In three decades, FFS has developed into a group sort of like Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in that we have given a lot of musicians the spotlight while keeping a recognizable sound and a clear artistic approach.”

Saxophonist Brent Rose follows with his new Brazilian-inspired project.  The midnight show is free.

Calling all Clowns! Rebels!, Rabble Rousers! and Malcontents! Burlesquers!, Maskers! and Celebrants of La Dolce Vita!


This Saturday, October 24, 20009 we will convene a Second Line led by the illustrious Maestro Clint Maedgen, featuring members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The Second Line is being staged as part of the local underground feature film “Flood Streets” celebrating the defiantly life-affirming culture of New Orleans in general and the Bywater in particular.

“Flood Streets” tells the story of a diverse bunch of artists and misfits seeking love, money, creative fulfillment, electricity, gas and marijuana in the Fall of 2006. The movie stars Becky Stark (singer with The Decemberists, Lavender Diamond) and features Harry Shearer of “The Simpsons” and Spinal Tap (and many other Christopher Guest films).

The procession starts with a crew of noise-making clowns, led by our muse Dischordia (local musician/artist Alma Maleckar) and members of Noisician Coaltion. We need as many clowns as we can muster! Acrobats, jugglers, baton twirlers, hula-hoopers and circus performers, come and take part!

The clown procession assembles at 8:30am sharp on the 800 block of Mazant, and rolls at 9am! C’mon, folks, stir your sleepy heads– think of it as St Anne’s on Mardi Gras Day!

Following behind the clowns will be krewes of zombies and skeletons, which shall assemble at the same time and place.

We are also assembling a cross-dressing burlesque krewe, “Travesty of Justice,” Drag Kings and Queens unite to lampoon social injustice! Cross-dress as parodies of cops, judges, and lawyers!

Any and all maskers are invited to join us for this early part of the procession. We want to feature you in the movie, and getting there early will give us more time to get you front & center! The camera loves you!

All other participants are invited to assemble at 10:30 am for the main event: the second line with Maestro Clint & musicians from Preservation Hall. The clowns, zombies, etc will still lead the main parade– we just need them early to make sure our cameras get as much footage as possible, because this time through, we’ll be mostly focusing on getting Clint & the musicians, but still getting lots of great footage of everyone. This will be the really fun part!

The theme song of the Second Line is “Just a Little While to Stay Here.” There will be singing breaks in the music led by Maestro Clint. All are invited to sing in unison. The Chorus is as follows:

Just a little while to stay here

Just a little while to wait

Just a little while to labor

In the path that’s always straight

Just a little more of troubles

In this low and sinful state

Then we’ll enter heaven’s portals

Sweeping through those pearly gates

In a general spirit of defiance to conventional wisdom, we are providing the proverbial FREE LUNCH (gumbo or jambalaya, we’re not sure which) at an undisclosed time and location for the celebrants. There have also been rumors of a costume contest with PRIZES.

Grand Opening of the Roosevelt Tonight with the Nevilles


The Neville Brothers will kick off The Roosevelt Hotel’s grand-opening Friday, Oct. 23, 2009 in the Roosevelt Ballroom. Known as New Orleans’ first family of Funk, the four brothers are sure to give guests something to groove to. Guests will also enjoy hors d’oeuvres and an open-bar reception.

Tomorrow night, October 24, 2009, will be a black tie gala featuring the Neville Brothers, Irma Thomas, and Allen Toussaint. Sunday, Tim Laughlin will be the entertainment at Sunday Brunch.

The Neville Brothers

The Neville Brothers