Threadhead Collective to Open for Irma Thomas

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Today’s Wednesdays at the Square lineup suggests some creativity on the part of the event’s talent bookers.  The opening act features three of the most acclaimed musicians who now record for the non-profit aggregation, Threadhead Records- Paul Sanchez, Alex McMurray, and Margie Perez.  What makes these three seemingly disparate artists click is a communal attitude and a focus on strong performance chops.  Joining them will be an uncommon rhythm section- John Gross on sousaphone and Washboard Chaz on, well, washboard.  Chaz has what it takes to fulfill the role of drummer and he has been doing so with aplomb in one of McMurray’s many groups, the Tin Men.  Irma Thomas (pictured), the Soul Queen of New Orleans, needs no introduction here.

RED + BLACK = MAROON

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This evening, a multimedia presentation and exhibit about the historic resistance to slavery and the role of the Black Indians of  New Orleans is scheduled from 6-7 PM at the Ashé Cultural Arts Center at 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.  The event is being presented by Ivan B. Watkins, an internationally recognized artist, filmmaker, and ethno-historian who was born and raised in New Orleans. He is a graduate of NOCCA, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (BFA) and University of Chicago (MA-Social Science) and is completing a doctoral dissertation “African American Indian Uprisings and the Black Indians of New Orleans Carnival.”

Gulf Aid Concert Features Special Guest Vocalist

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Despite being planned and pulled off in one week, the Gulf Aid benefit, which was held yesterday amid flood-generating rains, was a rousing success.  There were numerous celebrities including the actress Susan Sarandon in attendance and one  took a brief turn on stage.  After announcing they had just recorded together, the romantic crooner John Legend brought the jazz singer Cassandra Wilson on stage to reprise the duet that they will release later this year.

Blue Mountain at the Maple Leaf

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Kudos to Hank Staples the saloonkeeper and talent buyer at the Maple Leaf Bar.  He continues to take chances by booking out of town bands that tend to fly beneath the radar of the funk-obsessed music public of New Orleans. Tonight’s at, Blue Mountain, is now exception.  Formed nearly two decades ago in Oxford, Mississippi, the band was present at the beginnings of the so-called alt-country movement.  Blue Mountain, which features Laurie Stirriatt, the twin sister of Wilco’s John Stirriatt, disappeared from the scene for a number of years, but reunited in 2007, rocks out despite being pigeonholed in the country genre.

Five Questions with Bru Bruser of Gov’t Majik- Band Plays Two Shows This Weekend

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1. Your new record “Party Favors” sounds like a slightly new direction for the band- more P-Funk than the Afrobeat that first inspired the band.  Is that a fair assessment?

“Party Favors” certainly represents a new direction for Gov’t Majik!  More than anything its just the product of us playing a lot together, absorbing our influences and settling into our own sound - which we like to call Afro-Tech!  P-Funk’s my favorite band so you’re always goin to get that with me!!

2.Your songs have matured considerably since I first heard you play.  How has the song writing process changed?

We took two weeks to record our first record (Reality (It Hits You…)), and we took about two years to record Party Favors - so yeah we definitely put more time and thought into the new material - glad it shows!  We really are band that enjoys collaborating and writing together and most of our songs are a product of everybody contributing something.  Our guitarist David Hyman really stepped up and came in with some great songs already written for Party Favors.  Also we’re doing allot of singing now, so just having lyrics and working out the phrasing and harmonies is where most of the time is spent together - the grooves are by far the easiest part!

3. You are playing a couple of gigs this weekend with the Majik horns.  How does the band’s sound change with a horn section?

This weekend we’re celebrating the release of Party Favors and Reality on iTunes and the launch of the new GovtMajik.com so we’re pulling out all the stops!  We’ll have the Majik Horns - Tim Green on tenor sax, and Antonio Gambrell on trumpet - Friday night at Maison.  Horns bring a new power, bigger sound and energy to our sets for sure, you add them on a melody and it just makes it huge and deepens the impact. Plus its a given that we’ll play more of the afro-beat hits in our arsenal and just lay back and let those cats blow!  Tim Green is one of our heroes and its always such an honor to have him with us!!!  Now on Saturday night we’ll be at Prytania Music and Spirits sharing a bill with our great friends E.O.E!!!  The title cut of the new record seems to reference our government.  Is it a reaction to your experiences with the response to Katrina?

4. The title cut of the new record seems to reference our government.  Is it a reaction to your experiences with the response to Katrina?

Party Favors is funk tune that paints a couple of pictures, one is of a man who gets caught up in his greed and lust for power and loses himself to phony notions of success - it could even be W!  The other is of the people in this city, state and country who desperately need the services and leadership government should provide but are endemically not getting it…  But on the surface it just rides as a rocked out party anthem - after all, we all like to have fun!!!  There’s a relationship to my frustrations with Katrina, but I’ve been aggravated with government my whole life.

5. Your bass has a different sound than the instruments favored by most of the funk musicians in New Orleans.  What made you choose a Steinberger?

My bass is actually a Status, which utilizes the headless, graphite necks and double ball strings pioneered by Steinberger.  I’m a big fan of really thick low end like most afro-beat and reggae players prefer.  I like the headless thing too, its got a space age look - kinda “tricky” -  that’s just how I roll!

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Bebop Night at Dos Jefes

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This evening, Support Be and Hard Bop music and the Society to Prevent the Extinction of The Great North American Sideman (Eric Traub-president) presents a great lineup of unsung sidemen getting it done. Loren Pickford (pictured) will play alto sax, Wendell Brunious will play trumpet, Steve Blailock will play guitar, Chuck Chaplin will play piano, Peter Harris will play bass and Charlie Kohlmeyer will play drums.

Are You On the Happy Jack Frequency?

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Ever since the Wednesdays at the Square schedule was released I have been psyched to hear Happy Jack Frequency.  They are opening for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band this evening.  When I tell people this, they inevitably ask, who, or what, is the Happy Jack Frequency?  The answer may surprise you.  We watched James Martin, the brains behind the band, grow up right before our very eyes.  He began playing with Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews in Orleans Avenue when he was in his early teens.  A powerhouse saxophonist from the first time I heard him, Martin was Shorty’s on stage foil as well.  Now all grown up, he left Orleans Avenue over a year ago to pursue his own muse.  The tunes that his new band plays are very different than the funky rock of Orleans Avenue.  They have a poppy  modern rock sound with plaintive vocals and catchy melodies.  You can preview them at happyjackfrequency.com.

Massive Benefit Concert Scheduled for Sunday

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Yesterday, Rehage Entertainment, the producers of the Essence Music Festival and the Voodoo Music Experience, announced an all-day, into-the-night concert to raise money and awareness concerning the environmental disaster that continues to unfold in the Gulf of Mexico and on the coast of Louisiana.  The lineup is very impressive for an event that was announced less than a week before it’s is scheduled for the grounds outside of Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World (East Bank).  Lenny Kravitz (pictured) is the headliner, but with Mos Def and Ani DiFranco also on the bill, that could be debated depending on where your musical loyalties lie.  Also scheduled to perform is the cream of the crop of local musicians including Allen Toussaint, the Voice of the Wetlands Allstars (featuring Tab Benoit, Dr. John, Cyril Neville, George Porter Jr., Waylon Thibodeaux, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Johnny Sansone, and Johnny Vidacovich), Zachary Richard, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, Soul Rebels Brass Band, Irvin Mayfield’s Playhouse Review, Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers, Jeremy Davenport, Rebirth Brass Band, and MyNameIsJohnMichael.  The concert is scheduled from 10 AM until 10 PM.

Service for “T,” the Long Time Doorman at Vaughan’s, Set for Today

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S.T. Tidwell, Jr., known to all as “T,” passed away on Monday, May 3. 2010.  A memorial service and jazz funeral will be held this afternoon beginning at 1 PM at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, located at 1130 N. Rampart St.  After the service, the Tremé Brass Band will lead the jazz funeral as it winds around the Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods before ending up at Vaughan’s.

Portuguese Guitar Innovator In Town for the Weekend

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Luis Lopes is one of the pivotal figures in contemporary, improvised and hard-edged-jazz music in the blossoming Portuguese scene, and is one of the central recording artists on Lisbon-based Clean Feed Records.  Luis plays a nasty, gritty, rock-infested, tube-amp, twisted-toned guitar.  His style draws from the prog-punk-metal canon as well as the jazz world.  He will be performing with a mad cast of New Orleans’ most innovative musicians.  This evening, he is joined by Tim Green on sax and conn-o-sax and Helen Gillet on cello at Zeitgeist (1618 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard) at 9:30 PM.  Tomorrow night he performs solo at McKeown’s Books and Difficult Music (4737 Tchoupitoulas at Bordeaux) at 8 PM. Sunday evening he performs at 8 PM at Fairgrinds Coffeehouse (3133 Ponce De Leon) with Justin Peake on laptop and micro-percussion and Rob Cambre on guitar and effects.  The final show of his residency will be Sunday at 10:30 PM at the AllWays Lounge (2240 St. Claude Avenue).  This show will feature James Singleton on bass, Satoru Ohashi on trumpet and Doug Garrison on drums.