Neslort Appears Tuesday Night at the Open Ears Series

The self-described primordial fusion band will be taking over the upstairs of the Blue Nile this evening, August 31, 2010.  The band is excited to announce their newest recording, “Mystical Scam,” which is due out in October.  The band features Rick Trolsen, the leader on trombone, Larry Sieberth on keys, Tim Robertson on Guitar, Matt Perrine on bass, Boyanna Trayanova on drums, and Kyle Cripps on tenor and soprano Sax.

Free Music on Lafayette Square

This afternoon, the non-profit foundation Rebuilding Together presents the Fifty for Five celebration.  Artists scheduled to perform are the George French Band featuring Germaine Bazzle, the Tremé Brass Band, Anders Osborne (pictured- photo by John McCusker) and the World Classic Rockers featuring members of Santana, Journey, Boston, Steppenwolf, Toto and Lynyrd Skynyrd.  Don’t ask me why this “supergroup” is on the bill, but they WILL play “Freebird” without the irony. The event goes from 2-8 PM.

Eiffel Society Opens This Evening on St. Charles Avenue

The glass and steel structure that towers above St. Charles Avenue has had numerous incarnations.  When it first opened, it was a high-end restaurant that featured cutting edge cuisine.  For several years it was the home of the Red Room, an elegant nightclub.  More recently, social aid and pleasure clubs have started their parades through the streets of Central City by strutting down the long entrance ramp to the beat of brass bands.

Now the building, which was originally part of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, enters it latest phase.  It is a collaborative effort between nationally renowned Chef Ian Schnoebelen, mixologist Alan Walter, the art collective known as the Life is Art Foundation and the musician Kevin O’Day.

O’Day is the Talent Programmer for the Eiffel Society and he promises eclectic, top-quality music from the city of New Orleans and around the country.   The guitarist Todd Duke is playing tonight.  Every Wednesday will be Latin night with the percussionist Michael Skinkus and featuring Fredy Omar twice a month.  O’Day, an acclaimed drummer, will lead the house band, called the Eiffel Society Jazz Band, on Thursdays.   The schedule for the coming months features such standout players as Russell Batiste, Mike Dillon, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, James Andrews and Johnny Vidacovich.  The rising Hip-Hop Star Freddie Gibbs will perform during the weekend of the Voodoo Music Experience.  The music starts tonight at 7 PM.

Alvin “Youngblood” Hart to Join the Trio Tonight

After a couple of weeks of having the guitarist Steve Masakowski subbing for George Porter, Jr. on bass, the drummer  Johnny Vidacovich  welcomes Porter back.  The special guest this evening is bound to inspire the rhythm section to turn on the blues energy at the Maple Leaf Bar.

LA Fête Cultural 2010 Tonight at the CAC

This evening, the Contemporary Arts Center will host “A Celebration of Culture” to honor the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation’s five years of service to our community.  The event begins with a patron party in the Atrium of the CAC.  The musical attraction is the Shannon Powell Trio featuring David Torkanowsky and Roland Guerin with Special Guest Carol Fran.

The evening continues in the CAC Warehouse beginning at 7:30 PM with a huge show featuring Tab Benoit’s Swampland Jam with Cyril Neville, Anders Osborne, Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux; Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience; Big Sam’s Funky Nation plus the Stooges Brass Band with Big Chief Little Charles Taylor.

Open Ears Series Presents Aurora Nealand

This evening upstairs at the Blue Nile , the eclectic showcase for jazz talent features the saxophonist playing original music.  Rex Gregory, Tim Sullivan, Brad Walker, Sasha Masakowski, Simon Lott, and Brian Coogan will join her.  The show starts at 10 PM and is free and open to the public.  As always, tip the band.  You can listen to many of the sets from this series at

Donna’s Bar and Grill is History (book excerpt)

As has already been reported elsewhere, the great club on N. Rampart Street has served its last drink.  I spent many, many nights there.  So in honor of those memories I serve up an this offering from my upcoming book-

“Because of the laid-back vibe and inviting atmosphere of Donna’s, many of the elder statesmen of the brass band community gravitated to the intimate club.  Ruffins gave them stage time and continued to develop strong relationships that further influenced his new career direction.

Primary among them was “Uncle” Lionel Batiste.  Batiste is a wisp of a man who plays bass drum for the Tremé Brass Band and is an irrepressible personality with a penchant for dark glasses at night and dapper suits that recall an earlier era.  His nickname comes from the fact that everyone knows him and since he can’t possibly remember all the names, he simply calls his many younger friends “nephew” or “niece.”

Batiste became a regular, entertaining everyone with tall tales of gentlemanly conquest and sotto voce fables of life in old Tremé.  During the second set of Ruffins’ first show at the club, he decided it was time to perform, but without his bass drum, he was forced to improvise.

Batiste headed into the kitchen and came out with a stack of pots and pans, which he painstakingly assembled on the floor in front of the band.  After getting his set up just right, he pulled a pair of spoons out of some hidden pocket and began playing this makeshift percussion kit while on his knees.

Everyone in the place began cracking up at what initially appeared to be part of a comedy routine.  However, Batiste is a talented percussionist and after a minute or so, the band realized he was serious.  Without the aid of a microphone, he proceeded to take an amazing solo on the pots and pans.

After a song or two, he picked up the kitchen equipment, took a small bow and headed back to his beer at the bar.  He performed the same musical stunt a few more times at both Donna’s and Vaughan’s, and it was never reduced to shtick.  It was just the fun-loving, musical nature of the man on display.”

copyright 2010 Jay Mazza All Rights Reserved

Ponderosa Stomp Show at Mid-City Lanes Rock ‘n’ Bowl

In anticipation of next month’s two night series at the House of Blues, the Ponderosa Stomp features Chick “The Stoop Down Man” Willis, Herman Hitson and Those Lonely Knights tonight from 9 PM – 1 AM.  Willis injects the often baleful blues genre with a much need dose of humor.  Hitson’s big hit, “Ain’t No Other Way,” will also have the crowd electrified. Those Lonely Knights are the New Orleans garage rockers responsible for the novelty hit, Morgus the Magnificent.”  It should a rockin’ preview to the full Stomp lineup on September 24 and 25.

Free Fridays Continue with the Joe Krown Trio

I sometimes wonder if New Orleans has more organ trios than any other city in the world. Since an organ trio usually has no bass player, you have to have a keyboardist who is adept at providing the bass lines with his left hand.  Joe Krown has improved immeasurably since starting his trio with Walter “Wolfman” Washington on guitar and Russell Batiste on drums.  Washington plays all the time with his own band, the Roadmasters, but Batiste has been harder to see outside of this project since the dissolution of PBS.  The Joe Krown Trio plays every Sunday night at the Maple Leaf.  Billy Iuso and the Restless Natives with special guest Ivan Neville on keys open the show tonight at Tipitina’s.

Matisyahu at the Republic

The first time I heard there was a Hasidic Jewish rapper who seamlessly fuses reggae, rock, hip-hop, beat boxing, and Hazen prayer chants into a style that’s uniquely his own, I was flabbergasted.  I assumed it had to be a gimmick at best and a joke at worst.  But having seen him in action, this is guy who truly throws down and actually does mix up all those influences into a fine stew.   Nathen Maxwell and the Original Bunny Gang open the show.  Republic New Orleans is located at 828 South Peters Street in the Warehouse District.