Henry Butler at Snug Harbor (with book excerpt)

Tonight the fantastic pianist returns to New Orleans to play at Snug Harbor with his quartet.  Tomorrow night he plays for the Satchmo Club Strut at the Blue Nile with his trad band, the Steamin’ Syncopators.  Butler lived in New Orleans prior to Katrina.  He wound up in Colorado and recently moved to New York.  While he lived in New Orleans he continually blew people away with his killer playing and great vocalizing.  Here is an excerpt from my upcoming book that gives an idea what Butler was like when he first started gigging and sitting in around town.

By 1987, the piano scene in New Orleans was greatly enhanced by the return of Henry Butler. He is a New Orleans native who left town for greener pastures as a younger man.  Though he is widely known as a blues and funk player today, during this period he was completely devoted to jazz.  He played with an A-list of musicians including the bassist Charlie Haden and the drummer Billy Higgins.  Though he didn’t move home for a couple more years he appeared regularly in New Orleans during this period at the Jazz Fest and at Snug Harbor.
Once he moved home, Butler was everywhere and he began transitioning his musical focus.  He sat in with anyone he wanted to and usually upstaged the best players in the band.  However, he never did it in an egotistical way.  He is just that good.  One instance in particular sticks out.
Butler showed up at Muddy Waters to sit in with George Porter, Jr.’s band.  He had the whole club mesmerized with his version of “Baby What You Want Me to Do.”  Then, as if to top himself, he played a long improvisational instrumental passage on “Fever,” that was so jazzy that the rest of the band was left in the dust.  Even Porter was amazed.  He put down his bass for a new hip-hop-inspired version of the Meters’ classic, “Funkify Your Life.”  All Rights Reserved 2010 Jay Mazza

Sweet Home New Orleans Presents Gal Holiday

This evening at Mid City Lanes Rock ‘n’ Bowl, which is located at 3016 S. Carrollton Avenue, the musicians’ relief organization presents another great concert event.  Holiday and her band, the Honky Tonk Revue are playing in support of their great sophomore release called appropriately, Set Two.  I caught their show recently and was impressed by how much Ms. Holiday, aka Vanessa Niemann, has matured as an artist.  Her band was sounding equally improved.  This is an early show, 8:30 PM-11:30 PM.