Good Children/Fringe Festival Parade Today

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Not all parades in New Orleans are second lines, jazz funerals, or Mardi Gras ones. Everyone once and a while we have a chance to see something completely different (I have been watching the Monty Python retrospective and relish the chance to use the phrase). The Fringe Festival, which is going on all around town at various venues, is hosting a parade today, November 14, 2009, that will feature many of the performers at the festival. It begins at 3 PM on St. Claude Avenue and Poland Avenue in the Bywater neighborhood. The parade then heads up St. Claude turning on Marigny Street before disbanding.

Brian Coogan Band to Headline D.B.A. Tonight

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This evening, November 13, 2009, keyboardist Brian Coogan will take the stage on Frenchmen Street with his band that includes alto saxophonist Aurora Nealand, trumpeter Jamelle Williams, tenor saxophonist Allen Dejan, guitarist Danny Abel and drummer Eddie Christmas. I have only seen this band once, but they were on fire. Coogan, who is mostly known around town as a sideman, sets his organ up front and center and he also sings in the band. The horn section is incredible with strong soloing as well as ensemble work. Danny Abel is an up and coming player who adds great textures to the grooves that are laid down by Christmas. For fans of organ players, Coogan can’t be beat. He provides all the bass lines and you will be hard pressed to avoid playing air bass despite the fact that there is no bassist on stage.

Loren Pickford Returns to NOLA For Gig at Dos Jefes Tonight

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For a long stretch, the saxophonist Loren Pickford lived in New Orleans. He tended to play with much younger musicians including a great run with the New World Funk Ensemble back in the 1990s. Though I never really spoke with him much, he always struck me as a be-bopper with serious Bohemian credibility. Just check out his composition, “20th Century Fox” and you’ll get the idea.

Tonight, November 12, 2009, he returns to New Orleans for a gig at Dos Jefes. Supporting musicians include Todd Duke, one of the founders of the New World Funk Ensemble who now provides musical support for John Boutte and numerous other local players. Peter Harris, another musician who was undoubtedly mentored by Pickford, will be playing bass.

French Quarter Festival Deadline Sunday

Attention New Orleans musicians!  The deadline for submitting your application to perform at the French Quarter Festival is this Sunday, November 15, 2009.  The application can be downloaded from their site at fqfi.org or e-mail the music manager at greg@fqfi.org.

New Orleans Jazz Orchestra Jam Session Tonight

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With trumpeter and musical entrepreneur Irvin Mayfield’s name in the news again, perhaps it’s time to make a visit to the Royal Sonesta Hotel for the NOJO jam session. Mayfield has been linked with the developer Stewart Juneau and his plans to convert the shuttered-since- Katrina Municipal Auditorium into a multi-use entertainment complex. Today’s Times-Picayune reports that the new Inspector General’s office is looking into the seemly cozy deal that the developer and the musician have arranged with the Nagin administration.

Luckily, Mayfield still plays music. The lineup for this evening’s performance is a good one. Pianist David Torkanowsky will be appearing with a newcomer on the scene, the trombonist Michael Watson. The rhythm section spans generations with Peter Harris handling the bass duties and the legendary, but severely undersung, drummer “Gentleman” June Gardner. Mayfield will perform as well as several other invited guests. The jam session occurs every Wednesday at Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse in the Royal Sonesta Hotel located at 300 Bourbon Street. There is no cover charge.

Free Concert to Honor Sidney Bechet This Evening

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Xavier University presents “Sidney Bechet: Wizard of Jazz this evening, November 10, 2009 in the Mary and William McCaffery Ballroom in the University Center. The concert and discussion about the life of the New Orleans-born clarinet and soprano saxophone legend begins at 7 PM. Featured performers include alto saxophonist Donald Harrison, Jr. and Dr. Michael White and the Original Liberty Jazz Band.

Mirliton Festival Redux

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The Bywater Mirliton Festival has been one of my favorites of the little fests that dot this town during the nine-month festival season. It’s hard to believe it’s been going on for twenty years. Yet, they are still tweaking the set up and moving the stage to the far end of the playground really opened up more space to walk around and check out the food and vendors.

We arrived in time to hear Guitar Lightning Lee. (A note to the organizers- in a town where people carry cheat sheets to festivals large and small, it’s imperative to announce the time each band is playing in advance. I have heard great things about Hurray For the Riff Raff, but missed them by a half hour since no one seemed to know the schedule.) Guitar Lightning Lee plays generic blues that couldn’t hold my attention. So we circulated and I got to finally see Christopher Porche West’s new book of Mardi Gras Indian photos. This is a book you must have in your collection.

R. Scully and His Rough Seven were up next and the adjective in his band’s name sums up the sound. With lead guitarist Rob Cambre injecting rock ‘n’ roll pyrotechnic effects into the band’s take-no-prisoners approach, they totally rocked out. For some reason, no one got up and danced except a few Bywater hipsters who appeared to be so out of shape (especially given that they all appeared to be under 30) that they couldn’t manage to stay vertical for a 40-minute set.

The same fate awaited Luke Allen’s Happy Talk Band. No one danced and the seated crowd was far enough away that when some crazy MF approached the stage to heckle the band at the end of the set, the band members themselves dropped their instruments, jumped off the stage and chased the guy down. At first I thought it was part of the act, but they were seriously insulted and replied in kind. Luke’s songs are best heard in a dark bar, late at night and his voice was hurting. But that’s still no reason to approach the stage with coarse invective.

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photo credit- Kim Welsh

Despite the well-noted racial mix of the Bywater neighborhood, the crowd at the festival was 100% white with the exception of the aforementioned Guitar Lightning Lee. So I was curious what would happen when DJ Jubilee, a New Orleans hip-hop legend, took the stage. With three black divas in matching afro wigs egging the crowd on, he finally got people up and shaking it.

The Men's Chorus- photo credit- Kim Welsh

The Men's Chorus- photo credit- Kim Welsh

Closing the afternoon with the Valparaiso Men’s Chorus was an inspired choice. A huge chorus, loaded with familiar faces from the tight knit downtown scene, sang bawdy sea shanties supported by Alex McMurray on guitar and lead vocals, Matt Perrine on sousaphone, Carlo Nuccio on drums, Greg Schatz on accordion and Rick Trolsen on trombone. Too bad the chorus was not miked better. It was very hard to actually hear them even as the crowd pushed towards the front of the stage. Yet, the music was inspiring as the sun set on a blissed out Bywater crowd.

Bywater Mirliton Festival Scheduled for Today

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Beginning at 11 AM this morning and extending until 7 PM, Markey Park, located at the corner of Piety and Royal in the Bywater neighborhood, will be the scene of one of the most unusual and eclectic festivals on the annual calender of New Orleans. The Mirliton Festival celebrates the humble squash with live music, arts and food. Bands scheduled to perform include The Valparaiso Men’s Chorus featuring Alex McMurray, DJ Jubilee, Happy Talk Band, Ratty Scurvics, Guitar Lightning Lee, Hurray For The Riff Raff, R. Scully Rough 7, King Louie One Man Band and the Panorama Jazz Band.

Cuban Piano Great Roberto Carcassés to Perform at Snug Harbor Tonight

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The CubaNOLA Arts Collective and Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro present Roberto Carcassés- an acclaimed Cuba pianist known as the popular and inimitable leader of a new movement in Cuban music. His band, Interactivo, is a fun and funky party band that combines elements of jazz, funk and Cuban styles such as timba, rumba, and trova

It is his first visit to New Orleans and he will be supported by two of the most well respected names in New Orleans jazz and world music, the drummer Ricky Sebastian and the bassist David Pulphus.

Lady Fest Continues Tonight at Snug Harbor

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Vocalists Cindy Scott and Leah Chase will be backed by Megan Swartz on piano,Cori Waters on drums & Cassandra Falconer on bass. Shows at the Frenchmen Street club are at 8 and 10 PM.