The Beach Boys
Friday, April 27, 5:30 p.m.
In the summer of 1962 a new term entered the American cultural lexicon and quickly spread into common usage. The term was “surfing.” It—literally—rode in on a “wave” of popularity from Southern California and spread throughout the world. The band that introduced surfing to the rest of us landlubbers was The Beach Boys. Consisting of three brothers—Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson, their cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine, they swept ashore with “Surfin’ Safari” half a century ago and followed it up with hit after hit after hit. They were the youthful icons of an innocent era, singing the joys of wave-riding, pretty girls and hot-rodding. Even after the British Invasion swept ashore on the opposite coast, The Beach Boys’ popularity never waned. Songs like “Surfin’ USA,” “Surfer Girl,” “California Girls,” “409,” “I Get Around” and scores of others kept them on or near the top of the charts for most of the ‘60s. As the decade moved on, The Beach Boys moved on with it, adapting to more sophisticated styling, thanks to Brian’s imaginative lyrics and arrangements. Their 1966 album Pet Sounds, containing “Sloop John B” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” among others, has been consistently rated one of the top recordings of all time. Brian took a long hiatus from performing after 1965 but the band carried on, even after the deaths of Dennis and Carl. Today’s band, reuniting Brian with the still-surviving group, consists of Mike, Al, Bruce Johnston and David Marks, and they will be releasing a brand new studio album concurrent with their JazzFest debut. After 50 years, they still get around!—Dean M. Shapiro
Saturday, April 28, 4:20 p.m.
If Kenny G can be called the King of Smooth Jazz, Dave Koz certainly qualifies as the Crown Prince. In a solo career that spans twenty years and a dozen albums, the incomparable soprano and alto saxophonist has established himself as one of the most prominent figures in contemporary music. His 1993 classic, “Faces of the Heart,” is the theme song for the ABC soap opera, General Hospital. Other breakout recordings getting airplay on smooth jazz stations include “Emily,” “Castle of Dreams,” “You Make Me Smile,” “Lucky Man” and dozens of others. Weeks after graduating UCLA he was hired by Bobby Caldwell for a series of tours, then he began touring with renowned keyboardist Jeff Lorber. Following a 1989-90 stint with the house band for the Pat Sajak Show, Koz went solo and his career skyrocketed. While still a rising star, he put his UCLA Mass Communications degree to good use and hosted several syndicated smooth jazz radio shows and later expanded into TV. From April-July 2010 he led the house band for The Emeril Lagasse Show on Ion TV. In 2009 he was honored with a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, a high honor awarded to very few modern jazz artists.—Dean M. Shapiro
James Rivers Movement
Friday, April 27, 2:50 p.m.
In his mid-70s, James Rivers doesn’t make a lot of headlines but he HAS made a lot of musical history. And film history, too, with collaborations on four Clint Eastwood movies, including The Bridges of Madison County in which he appeared onscreen leading a band. A quiet, humble gentleman not given to bragging, Rivers has much more to brag about than those who do it to extremes. A multitalented, multi-instrumentalist/vocalist, he plays tenor, alto and soprano saxes, along with flute, harmonica and even – believe or not – bagpipes, all with equal proficiency. His bona fides date back to the mid-‘50s, touring with such R&B/R&R pioneers as Sam Cooke, Hank Ballard and Jackie Wilson, then doing backup work in Cosimo Matassa’s J&M Studios for Huey “Piano” Smith and The Clowns on their hit records. In hot demand locally, he also worked with Allen Toussaint, Sugarboy Crawford, Art Neville and Eddie Bo, and was one of the house band saxes at Ric/Ronn Records, which recorded some old Crescent City classics. He was also one of the blaring horns heard on Al Johnson’s “Carnival Time” and he backed Robert Parker on his hit single, “Barefootin’”. His genres include straight-ahead jazz along with smooth jazz, gospel, blues, pop standards and some good old rock and roll. With a trio or quartet, Rivers has performed at every JazzFest since the beginning. Today, with his four-piece James Rivers Movement, consisting of himself, Peter Cho on keyboards, Millard Green on bass and Mayumi Shara on drums, Rivers has a regular gig at the Hotel Roosevelt’s Sunday Brunch in the Blue Room. You can catch them, starting at 11:00 a.m. —Dean M. Shapiro
Friday, April 27, 3:45 p.m.
Around the world and back, Sasha Masakowski has encountered a progression of rich cultural experiences that have polished her craft, strengthened her resolve and peppered her performance with a subtle but sonorous complexity.
Our interview took place on the last day of Sasha’s four-month residency at a five-star Beijing hotel, and the day before she would be leaving China to travel Southeast Asia for another month. She shared with me—over an at times spotty Google phone connection—how her time living and working in a hotel in China has affected both her career and worldview, and what parts of New Orleans still sharply resonate from nearly 8000 miles away.
“I’ve met so many people, and it’s just such a completely different lifestyle living and performing here,” she said. “Plenty of ups and downs and I’ve definitely learned a lot, as I think anyone does once they get out of New Orleans and start realizing what the world is. Cause, you know, New Orleans is so much its own little universe.”
Sasha was performing regularly throughout the Crescent City cosmos, and only a few months out from releasing her latest recording effort, Wishes (2011), when she received a Facebook message from a woman she’d never met who needed a singer for a hotel in Beijing.
“Of course at first I thought it was a scam,” she said, laughing. “It turned out to be legitimate, and I couldn’t really turn the opportunity down, it seemed like a really great way to experience China. Living there four months was the perfect amount of time to get to know it.”
Unsure of what to expect, she arrived at the Shangri-La Hotel in the heart of downtown Beijing last October intending to perform her own original music, distinctly pop- and jazz-oriented, in a listening room style environment in the hotel’s new high-end nightclub and jazz lounge, Centro. Instead, she met her fellow musicians—all from the US, including a handful of Berklee Bostonites—with whom she would be performing rock, funk, soul, blues, and R&B six nights a week for the next several months.
A coterie of talent and professionalism, the group synced quickly and were soon regarded as one of the most killing bands in Beijing with a strong and diverse following by the end of their four-month tenure. But even with the crowd and prestige, Sasha and her band still faced various unexpected culture shocks.
“Chinese don’t applaud, at all,” she said. “It’s very weird, there are pretty stark cultural differences that I really had to accept and go along with. We’re rocking out on stage and playing all this great music, and even though they were seemingly into it, nobody would applaud. It was definitely strange, I sort of had to let my ego down and remember this is the culture and the gig I’m in.”
Another stark cultural difference—especially for a musician coming up in an overwhelmingly sonic society like New Orleans—is the general lack of other sources of live music.
“The thing I miss the most about New Orleans is the live music scene,” she said. “Around here, you can’t really find really great live music. And that’s one thing I’ve really realized: how inspiring it is to be in New Orleans and surrounded by so many incredible musicians. It’s such a booming music scene and you take it for granted, and when you come out to a place like China all of a sudden, it really makes you grateful for all the talent that’s in New Orleans.”
Returning to New Orleans in March, she said she was most looking forward to “raiding the heck out of Goodwill—I forgot how much of a thrift store junkie I am. That, and getting my ass out to Frenchmen St, seeing my friends, hearing good music, and performing with my friends.”
Her upcoming Jazz Fest performance will feature both friends and family as she is joined onstage by her band Musical Playground—which includes bassist Jasen Weaver, drummer/percussionists Julian Addison and Nick Solnick, and keys and melodics extraordinaire and producer of Wishes, James Westfall—as well as her father Steve Masakowski, guitarist of Astral Project, and bass-wielding brother Martin.
“I’m really excited because my brother is going to be back in town at that point and I haven’t played with him in a year, year and a half, before he takes off again [to Europe] with his gypsy band,” she said. “I decided I wanted to focus on family, and really do stuff with my family and my brother together. It’s gonna feature a lot of new original music, a lot of really cool Brazilian stuff that I’ve been getting into out here, and of course some of my dad’s originals. It’s gonna be really beautiful, like a Masakowski family reunion up on stage. It’ll be really charming and wonderful.”—Carolyn Heneghan
Fredy Omar con su Banda
Friday, April 27, 11:20 a.m.
Congo Square Stage
When Fredy Omar strikes up “su Banda,” people dance. They can’t help it. Sitting or standing still is impossible. Voluntarily or involuntarily, your body is going to be moving with the rhythms. Microphone in hand, like a Spanish-speaking cheerleader, Omar is exhorting you to get out there and “Bailé!” That’s what he loves best: watching people dance to his music. As a multiple award winner (Big Easy, Best of the Beat, etc.) Omar and his band have played nearly every venue in New Orleans and have even taken their high-energy Latin Rock show on the road to other American destinations and Europe. He has shared the stage and/or recorded with such big names in the Latin genre as Tito Puente, Ruben Blades, Eddie Palmieri, Manny Oquendo, Maraca and others. Also local superstars like Kermit Ruffins, Paul Sanchez, Charmaine Neville, Irvin Mayfield and Jason Marsalis. In 2010 Omar released his fourth CD – Bailando – Spanish for “dancing,” which is exactly what it is. Consisting of twelve original compositions, the rave-reviewed record is a compilation of merengues, salsa, cha-chas, cumbias and even flamenco! He has performed at every JazzFest since 1998, an amazing accomplishment considering that he had just landed in New Orleans from his native Honduras a mere six years earlier, not knowing a word of English! Fredy Omar con su Banda do a regular Friday night gig at Mojitos, 437 Esplanade Avenue (at Frenchmen Street), starting at 10:30. For a good, fun time, this is an absolute “must.”—Dean M. Shapiro
Saturday, April 28, 1:35 p.m.
I’ve said this before in other writeups and I’ll repeat it for those who didn’t catch it the first couple of times: Luther Kent is a New Orleans treasure. Whether belting out the blues or R&B or old R&R standards, Kent’s husky, heartfelt vocal styling rises above the pack of most of today’s purveyors of the aforementioned genres. Born and raised in New Orleans, he began singing professionally at age 14 and signed with Baton Rouge-based Montel Records, the same label that produced nationwide hits for Dale & Grace. His first record, “I Wanna Know,” was released under the name of Duke Royal. In the mid-70s he toured and sang lead with Blood, Sweat & Tears, but unfortunately never got to record with them because of a rigid contract with another record company. Closer to home, he and his Trick Bag band have lit up every stage on which they performed, including Tipitina’s, the House of Blues and several Bourbon Street clubs. When Kent and Trick Bag did their late-hour gigs during their ‘70s and ‘80s heyday, many of the most famous musicians in the world considered it an honor to sit in with them. For the past three years Kent has been one of the featured vocalists in music producer Bill Johnston’s “Joint’s Jumpin’” New Orleans Rock & Roll/Rhythm & Blues tribute show. His 2008 CD, The Bobby Bland Songbook, arranged and conducted by the late, great Wardell Quezergue, was a tribute to the legendary bluesman that Bobby “Blue” couldn’t help but be proud of.—Dean M. Shapiro
Sunday, April 29—5:40 p.m.
Congo Square Stage
Some people were born to do certain things, but Al was born to make us smile and this year Jazz Fest, Al Green is fitting to do just that. For many of us, a good Al Green record can make everything better, but know he’s going to help close out the first weekend of Jazz Fest on April 29th. Everyone to be there will sure to be not only moving on their feet but moved by the spirit as well.
Many people growing up in the 70’s will remember the beginning of Al Green’s career, full of hits. A cover of “I can’t Get Next to You,” originally be the temptations, “Tired of Being Alone,” “Let’s Stay Together,” and “Take me to the River.” These recordings exemplified his sound and highlighted his amazing voice, a gentle tenor with a sharp expression.
However, after dramatic events later in the 70’s Al Green turned to the Lord and became a pastor. His career slowly began to make a change to one exclusively in the church and in the 1980’s he ran away with the the Soul Gospel Performance Grammy throughout the decade, winning eight. By the end of the eighties he slowly reentered the realm of secular R&B eventually winning his ninth grammy for a duet with Lyle Lovette in 1994. He was eventually given a Lifetime Achievement award by the Grammy’s, he has been inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame, he’s been honored by BMI as an Icon, and he’s been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
Al Green is one of the greatest living R&B singers today and you’d do yourself a disservice if you didn’t see his performance this year at Jazz Fest.—John Valdespino
Saturday, April 28, 2:40 p.m.
One of our greatest cultural exports from Louisiana the past few years has been a little taste of Cajun, Country and Rock and Roll. I managed to get Amanda Shaw, busy as ever, in between recording and performing to tell us what’s been going on in her life. As a cultural ambassador for Louisiana, she has toured the wall bringing a little piece of New Orleans and Louisiana everywhere she goes while constantly growing as a musician.
Where Y’at: What have you been up to recently?
Amanda Shaw: I’ve been getting ready for Jazz Fest and the French Quarter Fest, but I’ve also been working on my new record. I’ve been having such a blast with it. I’ve been collaborating with a lot of new performers, writers and producers. I’m getting the opportunity to expand on what I do and learn a whole lot and have a lot of fun.
We’re still very much in the writing process of the record. We’ve made a few demos, but we haven’t really hit the studio or anything yet.
WYAT: What type of direction are taking this new record?
AS: I believe in always just growing each record. You just have to grow a little bit more each time. For me, what’s important for my music is to help grow New Orleans roots in different places and represent New Orleans and what we have here, everywhere I go. No matter where I go to, Los Angeles or Nashville. Even here at home, it’s time to bring New Orleans, sound or lyrical topics. It’s always got to be important to New Orleans. That has to be the core
WYAT: Do you have any New Orleans or Louisiana artist you want to collaborate with the most right now?
AS: It’s hard to pick one. I’m really just so proud of our music community. There are so many great talents here. There really are so many just awesome people, up and coming and veterans. You can go anywhere, and you can see Grammy Award Winning competitions or cultural Icons and just hanging out just like anybody is. That’s the best part of New Orleans.
WYAT: How did you get started playing music?
AS: I’ve always played the violin, since I was four. I would definitely consider myself of a violin player than anything. I really just enjoy making music and sharing it.
WYAT: How did you transition to Fiddle?
AS: Well, it’s not as much of a transition as it is just growth. I think that the classical music is still an important skill to have. I still study the music, I have all the books. I do scales to warm up. I think it’s like an athlete, it’s important to go in and keep your muscles sharp, do the workouts. It’s not just about game day, but important to keeping up. It keeps my music skills sharp to play classical.
WYAT: How has becoming a cultural ambassador to New Orleans affected your career?
AS: It’s awesome, every time I travel somewhere else, it makes me love New Orleans a little bit more. I really feel like there is any place quite like home. No place has the character or the spirit that our city has. It make me feels proud every time I travel. There are a lot of really great cities that I enjoy visiting. But no other place has my heart and every time I travel, I just fall more in love New Orleans.
WYAT: Anything special about this Jazz Fest performance?
AS: Everyone will have to come out to see it. I think that every single one of them is special because it’s a very special performance. I play the music, but the chords, the lyrics, but for Jazz Fest it’s the audience. They’re the one’s that really rock that stage.
WYAT: How does the Jazz Fest audience differ from you average audience?
AS: I always have so much fun at Jazz Fest because the people who come out to Jazz Fest are really ready and ready to have fun. People who come out are ready to experience other sorts of music from things like the headliners to things you’ll probably never see anywhere else, like Cyndi Lauper and Arcade Fire playing together. Those things that happen because the musicians are all there and they can do it all on a whim. The audience is always ready for those types of surprises.
WYAT: Thinking beyond Jazz Fest, what are your plans?
AS: Mostly growing as a musician. Where I’m at now and where I’ll be a year from now will be completely different. But I’m really excited for each and every day. I have such a wonderful opportunity and I have to thank all my fans for supporting me.
Amanda Shaw plays thursdays at the I Club in J.W. Marriott. Be sure to follow her online at http://amandashaw.com to keep up with her.—John Valdespino
Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes
Friday, April 27, 12:40 p.m.
I managed to sit down the mysterious Johnny Sketch from Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, the Loyola Alumni band that has been tearing up New Orleans for the past decade. Consistently tearing it up show after show, they’ll be making their 7th official Jazz Fest Appearance. Getting ready for a new album and Jazz Fest, I got to ask them a few questions
Where Y’at: Musically you go through a lot of different genres, but what do you listen to?
Johnny Sketch: Probably a little bit of everything. I really like funk and R&B and Soul music is a personal favorite of mine, but really I’ll listen to anything. I listen to a lot of Reggae and a lot of classical. I’m kind of a whatever. It all depends on my moods and what I’m in the mood for. But more than most people, I think I do listen to a lot of stuff. I don’t really just listen to any one genre. I like Variety, depends on what I’m doing that day.
WYAT: And you’re all classically trained musicians?
JS: Well, not all of us. We’re all formally trained musicians, but our horn players have studied Jazz. So the drummer, the bassist and myself all studied classical music. Our drummer studied piano, I did Cello. That’s actually how we met each other, at Loyola
WYAT: Are you doing anything for the Centennial Celebrations?
JS: Yeah, we got invited to come back as one of the Alumni Band for the Centennial Celebration.
WYAT: What’s going on with the new Record?
JS: We’ve been taking our time on this latest record, because we made our last one shortly after Katrina. We didn’t want to rush the next record. We’ve been going through a lot of personnel changes. It made sense to wait until everything was where we wanted it and we had all the right material. We’ve been working at it and we’re pretty excited. We’ve actually got all the music ready right now. We’re putting together the money right now to get into the studio. We should be recording pretty soon in the next couple months or so
WYAT: How are you going to fit in the record with your touring schedule?
JS: Well, we’re only planning on doing the record in about ten days. We don’t plan for being in the studio for that long. We may have a gig in town during that time, but we’re not going on tour during that time. We’re just going to get it all over with at once.
But we travel a good bit, we used to tour a lot more than we do now. We kinda just figured out that the markets we do really well in and the gas prices were ridiculously high when we started, but you really have to focus a lot more now a days and do the gigs that make sense.
So we do a lot of gigs up the east Coast, Florida and the mid west.
WYAT: Where’s your favorite place to play?
JS: Out of town? Probably up in the North East, New York is great. Florida, we have a lot great fans down there. Just a lot of fun people. Colorado is great to play in. Baltimore has been one of our favorite gigs as of late.
WYAT: How many Jazz Fests will this be for you?
JS: The seventh or eighth one I think. I’d have to get a piece of paper out to add that up, but I think this would be our 8th one but we got rained out the first time we were supposed to play?
WYAT: What’s it like to get up on stage?
JS: It’s the best. I’ve had people ask me do you get nervous in front of a big crowd. You don’t really get nervous. We know what we’re doing. We’re not going to go out there and mess up. We do get really excited up. I do like getting playing Jazz Fest. You get really excited about it. It something really special and happens only once a year. I love it just as a music fan. I try to go as many days as I can. It’s still a big deal. I hope that other bands agree that you really can’t take a gig like that for granted. It’s an honor. It’s a really exciting place to play.
WYAT: Do you have anything Special for this Jazz Fest performance planned?
JS: Well, we probably going to have a guest with us this year, but I don’t really know. I couldn’t give it away
You never know with us though, we always try to keep it a surprise. We’ve done costumes. We’ve done all sorts of things. Jazz Fest is just a great opportunity to play in your hometown. Play for a ton of people. We always try to do something special, it’s not just a gig.—John Valdespino
New Orleans Bingo! Show
Saturday, April 28, 4:05 p.m.
Should you just so happen to stumble down the correct streets, slip into the proper alleyway and knock on the right door in the long maze that some like to call the French Quarter, you’ll find yourself greeted by a mysterious man, brought into a Spanish courtyard. This man is familiar and you can’t quite tell his identity, until he picks up a rubber chicken and you realize, you’re sitting with Ronnie Numbers of New Orleans Bingo! Show. New Orleans Bingo! Show has been the musical troupe in New Orleans to go see. Preparing for Jazz Fest, Where Y’at managed to speak with Ronnie Numbers long enough to see how the band has been doing.
Where Y’at: How has the year been?
Ronnie Numbes: It’s been a wild ride over the past year. The last Jazz Fest performance was our first time on Gentilly so it was like a dream come true for us. We enjoyed being on the Lagniappe stage, but it was just fun to be on a physically larger stage and we brought the whole family for that performance. We had strings and horns and reptiles, it was incredible. Since then, I don’t even know, it’s been such a blur.
We’ve been in and out of town, working on a lot of new material. A lot of the fun of releasing the new record last year was developing the show around it. We’re really looking forward to how that changes the way you look at the physical performance of it all. All of the past year has been doing just that. It’s challenging in a lot of ways, because you have a way of doing things, but it’s been a really fun challenge because you get to think outside of the box and reinvent the wheel.
WYAT: What’s the size of the performing band?
RN: It’s interesting, since then, we’ve slimmed down quite a bit. Right now at it’s very core, Bingo show is a five piece. We’ll always continue to collaborate and work with our friends and other performers. Definitely for Jazz Fest we’re bringing a small army but the core of the group has changed a little bit and it’s a really interesting exercise to see what the five of us can do as individuals.
It’s challenged me to do some things I haven’t done in a while or ever. I’ve had to play different instruments and a different way of physical performance. It’s going to be interesting to build back up to Jazz Fest because the heart of it’s going to be even stronger.
WYAT: What is your favorite musical instrument?
RN: Currently, right now it’s the Chicken Puppet. The miniature chicken puppet is currently my favorite instrument alongside the laser gun.
New Orleans Bingo Show not only has a macabre and humorous side, but a very inspirational side. How do you do that?
I don’t know. I think we just do it. Clint’s songwriting has always had a wide range of styles and emotions. One of the fun parts of the troupe is taking that music and playing them in a particular order. Setlists are always really fun because we like to think of it as a show. Writing a setlist is like writing a script, you have an arc, you bring it back up and then you give people something to walk away with in their hearts. One of the best parts with working with Clint’s music is that it gives you the lead to write a story.
WYAT: How has touring been going for you?
RN: It’s been great. One of the fun things about bringing a show to a New City is you have these preconceived notions about how people receive you in your own town, which is awesome. But it’s fun going into a new market like that and just getting a real honest, opinion and reaction. It’s like you’re doing it for the first time all over again. You never have to worry about, “Well they’ve seen that a million times.”
WYAT: How ready are you for Jazz Fest?
RN: We’re always ready for Jazz Fest. We love it. We’re currently going to the roundtable and thinking about what we’re going to do for Jazz Fest because we like to do something different every time and we want people to walk away with something different every time. So stay tuned.
WYAT: What about your Jazz Fest Secrets?
RN: It’s going to be be delivered in a manilla envelop to the roundtable. Our mission is going to be delivered to us from there.
WYAT: What type of material will you be playing?
RN: One of the most interesting parts about breaking the group back down to the five piece is that we’ve had chance to re-explore things even from the Fiorella’s Days.We’re taking material and schtick from back then and resurrecting it in a whole new way.
WYAT: Beyond Jazz Fest?
RN: Keep your eyes peeled for a lot of upcoming “film.”—John Valdespino
New Orleans Klezmer Allstars
Sunday, April 29, 3:45 p.m.
This folk band will be very refreshing and unique music to hear in the midst of all of the jazz, gospel, and rock. For over twenty years, the New Orleans Klezmer Allstars have brought meaningful Yiddish music blended with more modern elements to the city of New Orleans with the mission of expanding their audience’s cultural horizons while keeping them dancing all night long. The instruments consist of guitars, accordion, drums, bass, saxophone, clarinet, and violin making for rich layers of intoxicating sound. The Klezmer Allstars was formed by guitarist/composer Jonathan Freilich, who has worked with notable New Orleans stars such as Kermit Ruffins and Michael Ray to name just a few. Jonathon has appeared at Jazz Fest over twenty-fours times, has appeared at Bonnaroo and the Ann Arbor Jazz Festival and has headlined with NOKAS at Voodoo Fest and the Berliner Festspiele (Berlin Jazz Fest). They seamlessly fuse together Yiddish tunes with classic jazz, experimental acid jazz, spoken word, ragtime, and everything beyond this dimension making a musical gumbo of old European roux and Louisiana spices.—Emily Hingle
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
Saturday, April 28, 5:10 p.m.
Legendary rocker Tom Petty and his band The Heartbreakers will be headlining; and the crowds are sure to pack the field and wait for hours to see this band, and watch Tom play his hits like “Last Dance with Mary Jane,” “Don’t Have to Live Like A Refugee,” “Won’t Back Down,” among many others. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers began in the mid-1970s; Tom had been in many bands before and decided to lead his own band when his previous band had broken-up. Their first self-titled album was not popular in America, but became well-liked in Britain where they toured. Their next album You’re Gonna Get It made it on the American charts as audiences here began to warm up to the band, and within the next few years, they were playing at Madison Square Garden and opening for artists like Bob Dylan and The Grateful Dead. Throughout the ‘80s, ‘90s and 2000s, the band remained popular and even in the spotlight of music; receiving a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and being the subject of the documentary Runnin’ Down a Dream, released in 2007. Their latest album Mojo, which Petty said was “blues-based,” was released on June 15th, 2010.
Although Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have added more musicians to the band, they have retained four members of the original line-up; lead vocals and guitarist Tom Petty, lead guitar Mike Campbell, bassist Ron Blair, and pianist Benmont Tench. —Emily Hingle
Tribute to Wardell Quezergue
Saturday, April 28, 5:55 p.m.
This special set is in honor of a very talented and prolific NOLA native who passed away last year. The tribute honors the accomplished composer, producer, and pianist Wardell Quezergue. Wardell, who was also known as the “Creole Beethoven,” was born into a musical family, and eventually lead a band of his own called the Royal Dukes Of Rhythm in the 1950s and worked with other New Orleans pianists Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, and Dr. John. In addition to being a musician, he helped other local musicians produce their music on his label Nola Records in the 1960s and 70s. The label put out hits like “Barefootin’,” “Mr. Big Stuff,” “Iko Iko,” and “Groove Me” that made it to the top of the American charts. He was also the mastermind behind the brassy favorite “It Ain’t My Fault.” His prowess did not go unnoticed as artists from all over the country came to him for help with their music like Paul Simon; Wardell helped write his album There Goes Rhymin’ Simon. He always kept a loyalty to Louisiana artists though, helping write music for the Neville Brothers, Deacon John Moore and Dr. John. Wardell Quezergue never slowed down with his musical career; he released the album Music for Children Ages 3 to 103: The Saint Agnes Sessions on June 23rd, 2009; his renditions of lullabies. He will be remembered by The Dixie Cups, Robert Parker, and Tony Owens, bands and musicians that he helped along the way.—Emily Hingle
Sunday, April 29, 11:30 a.m.
One of New Orleans’ best bluesmen will be singing and sawing on his harmonica, performing songs from his acclaimed 2011 release The Lord is Waiting and the Devil is Too which was nominated for seven awards and produced by guitarist Anders Osbourne and lots more. Johnny began his musical life by playing saxophone and, later on, picking up the harmonica and guitar. He was introduced to blues through his father’s record collection and played along with the albums, learning and perfecting his blues sound. He began performing and recording, winning awards and getting a reputation as a great blues musician along the way. Johnny has lived in many American cities, but made New Orleans his home in the late ‘80s and often performs around town at places like Herme’s Bar, Chickie Wah Wah, and with groups like the Voice of the Wetlands All Stars, in addition to touring the world.—Emily Hingle
Tribute to Alex Chilton
Sunday, April 29, 12:45 p.m.
A group of musicians will come together to pay a fitting tribute to the rocker Alex Chilton, who passed away in 2010. Alex began his career singing in The Box Tops in the 1960s, having some hit songs, but never gaining much mainstream popularity. After struggling with the music industry, he became a figure at the infamous punk club CBGB, eventually producing some songs for the surfer-punk band The Cramps and Tav Falco. Alex eventually found a haven in New Orleans in the 1980s, where he often played shows with rock bands as well as with jazz musicians. During this time, he was immortalized in the 1987 The Replacement’s song “Alex Chilton.” He stayed at his home in Treme during Katrina and was rescued by boat on September 4th during the flooding and eventually came back to the city. Alex was confirmed to play at the large conference and music festival SXSW in Austin, Texas, in 2010 but died shortly before the he was supposed to be there. His slot was instead transformed into a musical memorial for him including musicians from his band Big Star. Although Chilton never broke into stardom, his music influenced many musicians including R.E.M. Alex McMurray, Dave Pirner, Susan Cowsill and Rene Coman will perform an eclectic selection of songs that span Alex’s career from the rock and roll songs of his teen years with The Box Tops, the punk/rockabilly/blues of the ‘70s, and the cooler, jazzier guitar pieces of his early days in New Orleans.—Emily Hingle