Shamarr Allen has proven his musical chops by performing non-stop in many of New Orleans' most prestigious clubs. He's bringing his best tunes out of those venues and right into your home with his latest musical venture True Orleans. Shamarr is hosting what will certainly be a packed show at the House of Blues Parish Room tonight in honor of the album's release, and he's performing alongside NOLA favorite Big Freedia. Before the show, you can stream the brand new album here. I caught up with Shamarr to discuss the new album and the current state of New Orleans music.
"True Orleans is what inspired me to write my new album. The true culture of the city. New Orleans music doesn’t fit into a musical genre. When someone asks you how would you describe it, nine times out of ten you’d say 'you have to see it in order to understand.' There’s really no words for it. It doesn’t fit into a genre because it’s a feeling. Then you see it and you realized you didn’t see it at all, you felt it. No matter what style of music you here, if it’s from New Orleans it’s something about it that makes you feel it. That is True Orleans and that is what I’m inspired by. That unexplainable emotion inside of New Orleans music and culture. I wanted capture that feeling and give it to the world."
Shamarr has always been inspired by the music, feeling, and culture of his hometown, but he does notice a change in the city. He said, "Yes I have seen a change in the musical landscape of the city. This should probably be an entirely separate interview but I’ll say this. Treme “WAS” the school of New Orleans music. It was a place where you could go and learn from different musicians any day of the week. As a kid I would catch the St. Claude bus from the 9th award get off by Armstrong park and walk to Treme. Someone was out there to teach me music. That neighborhood literally was an institution for New Orleans music to be passed down. You couldn’t count the many musicians that lived in Treme. Even if you didn’t you hung out there. You could pull up and to any corner and say man I got a gig I need any type of musician and someone would say, so and so is around the corner. This has been the place to get knowledge of New Orleans music for decades. It isn’t like that anymore. You can count on one hand how many musicians live there now. There was several music venues that always had live music in that neighborhood. Around 10 or so, so you could always sit in and get a lesson after on what you needed to work on. Some clubs had more than one band per night. Now those clubs don’t exist anymore. That has to tell you something."
Shamarr will be keeping true New Orleans music alive tonight at the House of Blues at 9 PM.