610 Stompers Inaugural Ball Crawl

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They are likely the most unlikely sensations in the history of a city filled with unlikely sensations.  The 610 Stompers are a men’s dance team.  Their motto is “ordinary men, extraordinary moves.” They burst on the scene earlier this year with a mixture of good-natured fun and serious focus while amazing onlookers with their disco shorts and signature headbands.  An appearance during the Buddy D parade led to another in the Muses parade and a sensation was born.  This afternoon you can join the Stompers at their inaugural Ball Crawl.  It begins at Squeal BBQ on Oak Street at 4 PM and the parade winds around the Riverbend neighborhood before returning to Oak Street at 8 PM for the ball at the Maple Leaf featuring Groovesect.  For more information and some funny videos check http://www.610stompers.com.

5 Questions with Kevin O’Day

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1.    You are one of the most versatile drummers out there performing everything from funk and hip-hop to rock and jazz.  Do you have a favorite musical genre and if so, why?

I really enjoy playing any style of music where I can hear the blend of the instruments and see the colors they create in my mind. 

If it gets so loud that I can’t hear the stick definition on the ride cymbal or the subtleties of the snare drum, it just doesn’t sound good to me anymore. 

I love to play modern jazz. Also I love to play songs that tell a story so I can play things on the drums that give the listener the feeling behind the words.

1.    One of your more exciting projects recently has been the Mardi Gras Indian Orchestra.  When were you first exposed to the Indian rhythms and how did the music of the streets of New Orleans influence your development as a musician?

I dig the MGIO too. I am very interested to see what will happen next with that band because we are now in a phase where the musicians are beginning to organize the sound and take it into a new direction. 

I first heard Mardi Gras Indians through the classic Wild Tchoupitoulas recordings. When I heard that stuff, I started to seek out the people that were doing it. 

I met Big Chief Monk in a night of jamming at the Maple Leaf, and got the feeling of how the music should go by listening to his fingerprints. Geechie played bass drum and pounded that rhythm into my brain. I eventually met Big Chief Peppy, Big Chief Cantrell, Big Chief Roddy, Spy Boy Skeet, Honey Bannister, Juan Pardo, and many other Mardi Gras Indians and played with them. They make music directly from their soul. I love to play with people who don’t think about it….they just open up their soul and sing.

1.    Some people have called the mid to late 1990s the golden age of New Orleans music and you were at the center of it playing in a huge variety of bands from Iris May Tango to Royal Fingerbowl.  What are your fondest musical memories of the period?

I think every day in New Orleans is the golden age of music. The day I met Alex McMurray was a good one. Davis called me to do a gig with this new band he was putting together called All That. I showed up at Cafe Brazil and set up. This guitar player comes in, looking totally unassuming and proceeded to throw down some of the sickest rhythm and lead guitar work I had ever heard, and we clicked right from the start. We played a cover of Ozzy’s Crazy Train that night and we rode the crazy train for quite a few years after that. 

I used to love to hear Michael Skinkus and Hector Gallardo jamming together outside of Cafe Brazil…sometimes Rob Wagner would jump in with them. They were incredible together. 

I used to love seeing Brian Blade play. He used to do a jazz jam session at Checkpoint Charlie’s and Nick Payton would come sit in and blow everyone away.

There was a coffee shop called Kaldi’s that was a haven for the musicians. Nicolas Payton would come sit in on trumpet, then bass, then piano, then drums…what a monster… even back then, and that was like… 1993?  A long time ago.

All kind of stuff like that used to happen.

1.    You recently spent time in Los Angeles and had a steady gig on Monday nights.  How would you compare the musical scene in LA to the one New Orleans?

The thing is, L.A. has a music industry, and New Orleans has a music scene. Everything in L.A. is about how to sell whatever it is you are doing. How is it packaged? Who is the target audience? What genre is it? etc…

In New Orleans, people are creating music because it has a function in our culture. It is pure and soulful. I am so grateful to be HOME! 

I met and played with a lot of great musicians in Los Angeles. I am thankful for the opportunities I was given there. The Mint, where I did a five-month residency with my own band, is a piece of music history itself. It has been there since 1937…. Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and a lot of greats got their start there. I was blessed to have that gig and I won’t forget the experience. 

However, my life is here in South Louisiana and this is where I want to be.

5.  Tonight you are debuting the Kevin O’Day Band at the Banks Street Bar and Grill.  Who will you have playing with you and what can people expect to hear?

I am fortunate to have James Andrews on trumpet and vocals with me tonight. James is such an honest player… he plays from his heart and is one of the greatest entertainers in the world. 

Tim Green will be joining us on baritone sax. He is more known for his tenor playing, but I asked him to play bari tonight to bring the funk to the bandstand. 

Andrew McLean is on guitar. I asked Andrew to play because I love his melodic approach that is very inspired by Indian ragas and tabla music. I can’t wait to hear his sitar inspired sound over the grooves we will lay down. 

Jon Gross will be on sousaphone; he is a solid musician and brings precision to the groove. Sitting in will be my new friend Jesse Hiatt, a keyboardist and vocalist who just recently moved here from L.A. I met him there, and he escaped the madness. I will be working with him on his project in the future. Sam Hotchkiss will also be sitting in on guitar. He is a great friend and we lock in the groove every time we play together. 

Looking forward to seeing ya’ll out there! We’re gonna play some good old New Orleans rhythm and blues, some jazz, some funky stuff, a couple of Indian raga based jams and maybe even a song about the state of the gulf and the coast.

Henry Butler at Snug Harbor

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Before the flood, we could take Henry Butler for granted.  He played all over town and was as likely to show up at a gig as a guest as he was to headline with his various bands or as a solo act.  Now the chances to see him play in New Orleans are few and far between.  This is his first visit back since the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and he will be playing with his traditional jazz band, the Steamin’ Syncopators.  Leroy Jones will be playing trumpet in a show that is sort of a warm up for an even bigger room.  Tomorrow night the band will be in Washington, D.C. for a show at the prestigious Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  You can listen to it live on the web at 4:45 PM at http://www.kennedy-center.org/explorer/live/.

Britney Spears’ Producers at the Republic

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Some bands get all the buzz.  This evening an indie rock band, Miike Snow, which features two musicians who are mostly known for their work behind the scenes will play to an adoring crowd on S. Peters Street. Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg, two Swedish producers who are better known as Bloodshy & Avant, provide the electronic dance beats.  They have produced and/or written songs for Madonna, Kylie Minogue and since this is a local blog, Britney Spears (her hit “Toxic”).  An American singer, Andrew Wyatt fronts the band.  The group has been tearing it up in the live setting and they are set to play this weekend at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee.  Catch them now- if the buzz bears out, they will be playing a much larger venue when they return to New Orleans.

Jon Cleary Is More Than Able to Fill In

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Chickie Wah Wah on Tuesday nights has been the regular spot for a great trio of musicians- Anders Osborne, John Fohl and “Jumpin’” Johnny Sansone.  But with Osborne and Sansone ensconced at the famed Dockside Studios outside of Lafayette, Louisiana (Osborne is producing Sansone’s latest studio effort), Jon Cleary takes over this evening.  Cleary has been on fire lately with his longtime bandmates, the Absolute Monster Gentlemen and with a new trio of his own featuring James Singleton on upright bass and Doug Belote on drums. Tonight he will be performing solo.

Imogen Heap at the House of Blues

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The indie rock darling is known as an innovative singer/songwriter who favors intricate production values and retains creative control of how her music sounds by serving as the producer.  She doesn’t hesitate inserting elements of electronica into the production of a song as long as it serves the song itself.  Raised in Great Britain, she has won a Grammy for engineering and has released three solo albums including last year’s Ellipse.

Ponderosa Stomp at Rock ‘n’ Bowl

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The roots music non-profit is presenting a stellar show this evening at the Mid City Lanes Rock ‘n’ Bowl.  Dubbed “A Congo Mambo,” the concert features left-handed guitar burner Barbara Lynn (pictured) and Southwest Louisiana’s own guitar slinger, Lil’ Buck Senegal.  The Ponderosa Stomp, which traditionally has occurred during the week between the two weekends of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is moving to the last weekend in September.  Tickets are already on sale for the shows at the House of Blues.

Feufollet CD Release Party at D.B.A.

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This evening, the band from Acadiana who got their start as pre-teens will be playing in a decidedly adult club.  The group, which unabashedly celebrates their roots while at the same time embracing the ethos of the modern era, is celebrating the release of En Couleurs.  It is the fourth release for a group that began recording in 1999 for the legendary south Louisiana label, Swallow Records.  However, this disc could arguably be called their first “grown up” record.  It features original songs that reflect the Cajun heritage of the band members, but allows for the fact that this is indeed, the 21st century.

Don Vappie at Snug Harbor

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I have always admired the banjo work of Vappie.  With his Creole Jazz Serenaders he often reminds me of the late, great Danny Barker.  He doesn’t have the same wit and joie de vivre, but he plays many of the old classic jazz tunes that you don’t hear that often and he is a certifiable virtuoso on the instrument.  He also plays credibly on the guitar, just like Barker.  However, I had never heard him play anything but acoustic instruments until I stumbled upon him as a sideman at this year’s Jazz Fest.  I make it a point of always going to see saxophonist Roderick Paulin’s performances.  He was a key member of the Rebirth Brass Band during their most productive period in the 1990s and his solo act is always compelling.  So imagine my surprise when I realized it was Vappie ripping solos on the electric guitar in the Jazz Tent.  He really had it going on.  I doubt he will bust out the electric tonight at Snug Harbor, but that’s no reason not to check out this underrated player.

Umphrey’s McGee to Play the House of Blues

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Though they are regularly grouped in the jam band genre, and their milieu includes many of the trappings of the latter day hippie including twirling dancers and tapers, the Chicago-born band’s sound is considerably more developed than the typical noodlers.  They take elements of a variety of styles and merge them into a unified whole.  With songs that reference prog rockers from the 1970s and solid improvisational skills, the band is definitely a one-of-kind phenomenon.  Brock Butler from Perpetual Groove opens with a solo set.