America’s Golden Age Revived with the Side Street Steppers @SideStSteppers

americana, Blues, entertainment, events, folk, History, jazz, music, musicology

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The Side Street Steppers are a Memphis-based band whose repertoire consists mainly of music from the 1920’s and 1930’s, an era that has largely been forgotten. It is significant that Memphis’ first recording industry occurred during those years, in which record companies from the north rented rooms at the Peabody Hotel and recorded Black bluesmen and gospel choirs, country string bands and hillbilly musicians. This activity in Memphis continued until the Great Depression put a stop to the early independent record labels. Much of this kind of music finds its way into Side Street Steppers shows, and they are both accomplished musicians and fun to hear.

Keep up with the Side Street Steppers:
http://www.sidestreetsteppers.com
https://www.facebook.com/SideStreetSteppers
https://twitter.com/SideStSteppers
http://instagram.com/msveravictoria

Midsummer Mardi-Gras with the Krewe of OAK and the All For One Brass Band

Bands, Block Parties, Brass Bands, Dance, entertainment, events, music, musicology, Night Clubs, Parades, Parks, Travel

703 Oak Street704 Oak Street705 Oak Street706 Midsummer Mardi-Gras707 Midsummer Mardi-Gras708 Jacques-Imo's709 Jacques-Imo's710 Jacques-Imo's711 Midsummer Mardi-Gras712 Midsummer Mardi-Gras713 Jacques-Imo's714 Midsummer Mardi-Gras715 Midsummer Mardi-Gras716 Midsummer Mardi-Gras717 Midsummer Mardi-Gras718 The Krewe of OAK719 All 4 One Brass Band721 Midsummer Mardi-Gras722 All 4 One Brass Band723 Midsummer Mardi-Gras724 All 4 One Brass Band725 All 4 One Brass Band726 All 4 One Brass Band727 All 4 One Brass Band728 Midsummer Mardi-Gras729 Midsummer Mardi-Gras730 Midsummer Mardi-Gras732 All 4 One Brass Band733 All For One Brass Band734 Midsummer Mardi-Gras735 Midsummer Mardi-Gras736 All For One Brass Band737 Midsummer Mardi-Gras738 Midsummer Mardi-Gras741 Jazz Band in Palmer Park742 Palmer Park743 Jazz Band in Palmer Park744 Jazz Band in Palmer Park745 All For One Brass Band746 All For One Brass Band747 All For One Brass Band748 Midsummer Mardi-Gras749 All For One Brass Band750 All For One Brass Band751 All For One Brass Band752 Midsummer Mardi-Gras753 Palmer Park754 Midsummer Mardi-Gras at Palmer Park755 Oak Street756 Oak Street757 Oak Street758 Oak Street759 Oak Street760 Oak Street761 Oak Street
The event calendars for New Orleans showed something called the Midsummer Mardi-Gras that was supposed to take place at the Maple Leaf Bar on Oak Street far uptown, in the part of the city called Carrollton. I had imagined something like a little Mardi-Gras-themed summer block party, but what I found proved to be far more elaborate. Operating out of the Maple Leaf, and somewhat affiliated with it is an organization called the Krewe of OAK, which I soon learned stands for Outrageous and Kinky. The Krewe sponsors a regular Mardi-Gras parade through Carrollton during the Carnival season, but also sponsors one during the Midsummer Mardi-Gras in August, and this turned out to be quite an event. Several hundred people were already out in the middle of Oak Street in front of the bar when I arrived, and there were a number of marching units. The Krewe had hired the All For One Brass Band to play for the parade, and this was a band I had heard of, but never heard. They provide to be a fairly good band, and with a speech from the King and Queen of OAK from a balcony on Oak Street, the parade was soon under way. The New Orleans police had blocked off Carrollton Avenue, and I had assumed we would march up Oak Street to Carrollton and stop, but to my surprise, we turned up Carrollton Avenue and kept rolling. Crowds were everywhere, along both sides of the street, and in the neutral ground, and fireworks were being shot off from in front of an old mansion on a corner. It seemed we might roll all the way to Earhart Boulevard, but we ended a little sooner, turning into the main entrance to Palmer Park. Inside the park, another stage had been set up where a jazz band was already playing. They had a tuba instead of an electric bass, but they had set drums instead of the traditional snare, bass drum and cowbell rhythm section of the streets. As the parade arrived into the park, the All For One posted up near the entrance and kept playing until everyone had entered the park. It was now thoroughly dark, and brightly-colored lights were being projected into trees in the park. I decided to walk back toward my car, and soon found that there were still significant crowds on Oak Street. I grabbed an iced mocha from the Rue de la Course, and then continued on my way. The festive mood continued in the area, but I set out to catch up with my homeboys in the TBC Brass Band.

Jamal Batiste Live at Sweet Lorraine’s Jazz Club @CuttingEdgeNOLA @SljcNola

Bands, Brass Bands, Concert Reviews, Concerts, Dance, entertainment, events, jazz, music, Music Conferences, musicology, Night Clubs, Parades, Parks, second-lines, Travel

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While the Cutting Edge NOLA hip-hop showcase was going on at Cafe Istanbul, a music industry mixer and showcase was also going on a few blocks away at Sweet Lorraine’s Jazz Club, so I stopped by there after I left the Istanbul. The next band to go on stage after I arrived was led by a young drummer named Jamal Batiste, whom I had seen play a couple of years ago with trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and percussionist Bill Summers’ at Mayfield’s second jazz club at the W Hotel. His band this year included members of the Yisrael Trio, a really talented contemporary jazz group that I had seen during last year’s Cutting Edge when they played at a club called Mojitos. Not surprisingly, this group sounded really good indeed. But I had intended to drive further up to Louis Armstrong Park, because the New Orleans South African Connection (NOSACONN) was supposed to be sponsoring some sort of second-line from the park to Sweet Lorraine’s, and I had originally planned to park the car and get it in. But it was outrageously hot, and when I neared the park, I saw that the second-line had only a few musicians and buckjumpers, maybe about 10 in all. So I decided to go uptown and grab dinner instead, and then maybe head to something called the Mid-Summer Mardi Gras that was listed in the event calendars.

Reggae on the Bayou?

music, musicology, Record Stores, records, Reggae

692 Wayne's World Reggae Shop
The Caribbean atmosphere of New Orleans has been pointed out many times, from the fact that the city celebrates Carnival, to the African-derived cultural practices of the Black Indian tribes and brass bands. But yet another point of Caribbean-Louisiana fusion is the unexpected prevalence of reggae music and culture in New Orleans. Young Black men often sport dreadlocks, reggae shops are found in many inner-city neighborhoods, reggae music is popular, and there is even a First Church of Rastafari in the 9th Ward. This shop on North Claiborne seems fairly typical, and wouldn’t look out of place in Montego Bay or Ocho Rios.

Jamming With the Pinettes Brass Band at Bullet’s in the Seventh Ward

Bands, Brass Bands, Concert Reviews, Concerts, Dance, entertainment, events, Food, Funk, music, musicology, Night Clubs, Travel, videos

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After dinner, I drove over to the Seventh Ward, to a neighborhood sports bar called Bullet’s, where the all-girl Pinettes Brass Band has a weekly gig on Friday nights. The Pinettes won last year’s Red Bull Brass Band competition in New Orleans, and gets a lot of attention, as female brass band members are the exception rather than the rule. Bullet’s is the kind of neighborhood joint that you would miss if you weren’t looking for it, but I should have noticed the oil drum cooker out in front of it, which is a common site at New Orleans community bars. Inside was already packed, with an NFL preseason game on the big screen, but one by one the Pinette musicians arrived, and soon the club was rocking. The Pinettes are a decent brass band, with good arrangements, and a loyal following that soon filled the dance floor. While they played a lot of tunes unique to them, they also played some songs I recognized from the TBC, like “When Somebody Loves You Back” and Deniece Williams’ “Cause You Love Me Baby”, which I have never heard outside of New Orleans, but which is immensely popular there. After a brief intermission, the Pinettes played a rousing second set, and then everything wound to a close at midnight. By that point, cars filled the median on A. P. Tureaud.

Holly Grove and the 17th Ward of New Orleans

Bounce Music, entertainment, Hip Hop, History, music, musicology, Night Clubs, rap

606 Holly Grove607 RIP Magic608 17th Ward609 The New Beautiful People Bar & Lounge610 Club Gemini611 E & C VIP Lounge612 E & C VIP Lounge613 E & C VIP Lounge614 Ashton Theatre615 Ashton Theatre616 Holly Grove617 Holly Grove618 Holly Grove
Holly Grove (or Hollygrove) is a neighborhood of New Orleans to the west of the intersection of Earhart Boulevard and Carrollton Avenue, in the historic 17th Ward of New Orleans. It’s not a neighborhood I knew much about, aside from mentions in New Orleans rap songs, so after breakfast at Riccobono’s Panola Street Cafe, I headed into the area to see what I could see. Like many other neighborhoods of New Orleans, the main thing I noticed was little neighborhood bars, grills and lounges on street corners. These places are everywhere in New Orleans, and often are headquarters for various social aid and pleasure clubs, or for the gangs of Black Indians that parade during Mardi Gras season. But I also came upon an historic old theatre called the Ashton, and several nearby historic business buildings in need of restoration. Altogether, while most of the houses seem to be in good condition, it appears that commercial buildings in Holly Grove haven’t fared as well.

Concrete Soul Band and Arean Alston (@AreanAlston) at Brinson’s in Memphis

Bands, Books, Concert Reviews, Concerts, entertainment, events, jazz, music, musicology, videos

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I knew that live music went on at Brinson’s in downtown Memphis, but it had been years since I had been there, so when I read that the Concrete Soul Band would be playing there, I decided to drive down and check it out. Concrete Soul proved to be a very funky, tight band, playing both smooth jazz and some neo-soul, and after the intermission, we got a special surprise as former Memphian Arean Alston came on stage to perform. Alston had been in Memphis all week, and had performed elsewhere, but it was great to see her in the city again.

The Little People’s Place in Treme

music, musicology, Night Clubs, Photography, Travel

361 The Little People's Place
Somehow, on previous visits to Treme, I had never come across this little neighborhood bar called the Little People’s Place, but when I saw it, I immediately recognized the name as a place that had once been famous for live music in the Treme neighborhood. I could only imagine how thrilling it was to see Kermit Ruffins there, or one of the brass bands. Unfortunately, the Treme began suffering the depredations of gentrification even before Hurricane Katrina, and two of the earliest wealthy newcomers filed a lawsuit against the club in 1998 to stop the live music. I hope that one day perhaps the live music can be brought back to little neighborhood spots like this.

From Treme to the Quarter with the Satchmo SummerFest Second-Line

Bands, Brass Bands, Dance, entertainment, events, music, musicology, second-lines, Travel, videos

291 TBC Brass Band & Sudan292 TBC Brass Band & Sudan293 Sudan with the TBC Brass Band294 Sudan with the TBC Brass Band295 Sudan with the TBC Brass Band296 Sudan297 Satchmo Summerfest298 Sudan & The TBC Brass Band302 Sudan & The TBC Brass Band303 Satchmo Summerfest305 Satchmo SummerFest307 Sudan & The TBC Brass Band308 Sudan and the TBC Brass Band309 Zulus & Baby Dolls310 Satchmo SummerFest311 Satchmo SummerFest314 TBC Brass Band315 Satchmo SummerFest316 Satchmo SummerFest317 The Zulus318 The Baby Dolls319 The Baby Dolls320 The Baby Dolls322 Satchmo SummerFest323 Baby Boys Brass Band324 Zulus325 Zulus326 Satchmo SummerFest327 Sudan329 Sudan330 Sudan331 Sudan & TBC Brass Band332 Baby Dolls333 Baby Boys Brass Band334 Zulus335 Zulus336 Satchmo SummerFest338 Sudan339 Sudan & TBC340 Sudan & TBC341 Sudan & TBC342 Sudan & TBC343 Sudan344 Sudan & TBC345 Sudan & TBC346 TBC Brass Band & Sudan347 TBC Brass Band & Sudan348 TBC Brass Band349 TBC Brass Band & Sudan350 Sudan & TBC351 Sudan & TBC352 Sudan & TBC353 The Baby Dolls354 The Baby Dolls355 Sudan356 Sudan357 Buckjumping358 Sudan359 Fi Ya Ya Warriors Drummers
When the jazz mass at St. Augustine’s Church finally ended, the Treme Brass Band came marching out of the church, and the second-line, which had already lined up outside, got underway. The Treme Brass Band was at the front, with the Baby Dolls and Zulus behind them, and then I walked with the TBC Brass Band, who were marching with the Sudan Social Aid and Pleasure Club, and behind us came the Fi Ya Ya Warriors with their chief and their drummers. We marched first down to Rampart Street, past a couple of hotels where tourists were cheering from the balconies, and to the entrance of Louis Armstrong Park, which was entirely appropriate given the purpose of this festival. From there, we headed back down Rampart to Esplanade, and down Esplanade toward the old U.S. Mint where the festival stages were located. Although I had imagined the second-line as something of an artificial thing scheduled for tourists, I was pleasantly surprised to see it pick up second-liners and buckjumpers as it proceeded down Esplanade. By the time we passed through the festival gates at the Mint, there was hardly room to move. I had meant to hang out at the festival, but I soon found that all of my homeboys in the TBC were leaving out to walk back up toward the Treme, and I was tired too. It took every bit of strength I had to walk back up to the Treme Center where I had parked my car.

A Day in New Orleans With The TBC Brass Band

Bands, Black History, Block Parties, Brass Bands, Dance, entertainment, events, music, musicology, Parades, Photography, second-lines, Travel, videos

067 Treme Coffeehouse068 Treme Coffeehouse069 Treme Coffeehouse070 Treme Coffeehouse071 Treme072 Treme073 TBC Brass Band074 TBC Brass Band075 TBC Brass Band077 TBC Brass Band078 TBC Brass Band079 TBC Brass Band080 TBC Brass Band081 TBC Brass Band082 TBC Brass Band083 TBC Brass Band084 TBC Brass Band085 TBC Brass Band086 TBC Brass Band087 TBC Brass Band088 TBC Brass Band089 TBC Brass Band090 TBC Brass Band091 TBC Brass Band092 TBC Brass Band093 TBC Brass Band094 Old Church in Gert Town095 Darren Towns096 Broadway097 A Memorial Block Party in Gert Town098 TBC Brass Band100 TBC Brass Band101 TBC Brass Band103 TBC Brass Band104 TBC Brass Band105 Memorial Block Party107 Memorial Block Party108 Memorial Block Party109 TBC Brass Band110 TBC Brass Band111 TBC Brass Band112 TBC Brass Band113 TBC Brass Band114 The Foundation115 Darren Towns116 TBC Brass Band117 TBC Brass Band118 TBC Brass Band119 Memorial Block Party120 Broadway Bar121 In Memoriam122 Memorial Block Party123 Memorial Block Party124 Memorial Block Party125 Memorial Block Party126 Gerttown Hound128 Buckjumping129 CTN Grocery, Gert Town154 TBC Brass Band155 Birthday Party156 TBC Brass Band157 Birthday Party in Gert Town158 Birthday Party in Gert Town159 TBC Brass Band160 TBC Brass Band161 Birthday Party in Gert Town162 TBC Brass Band164 TBC Brass Band165 TBC Brass Band167 TBC Brass Band169 TBC Brass Band170 TBC Brass Band172 TBC Brass Band173 Darren Towns176 TBC Brass Band177 TBC Brass Band178 TBC Brass Band179 TBC Brass Band180 TBC Brass Band181 TBC Brass Band182 TBC Brass Band183 TBC Brass Band184 TBC Brass Band185 TBC Brass Band186 TBC Brass Band187 TBC Brass Band189 TBC Brass Band191 TBC Brass Band192 Black Indians at the Divine Ladies Ball193 Divine Ladies Ball194 Divine Ladies Ball195 TBC Brass Band196 Divine Ladies Ball197 Divine Ladies Ball198 Divine Ladies Ball199 Black Indians200 Black Indians201 Black Indian203 Black Indian204 Rhythmic Foundation205 Black Indians206 Black Indians207 TBC Brass Band208 TBC Brass Band209 TBC Brass Band210 Black Indians211 Black Indians212 Darren Towns and Friend213 TBC Brass Band214 TBC Brass Band215 TBC Brass Band216 TBC Brass Band217 TBC Brass Band218 TBC Brass Band219 The Foundation220 The Foundation221 TBC Brass Band222 TBC Brass Band223 TBC Brass Band at the Sportsman's Ladies Party
It was Satchmo Summer Fest weekend in New Orleans, and my friends in the To Be Continued Brass Band, or TBC, had invited me to spend the afternoon with them going around to their various gigs. They had already played several gigs before I got to New Orleans and caught up with them in the Treme neighborhood around 3:30 in the afternoon. I quickly learned that there’s really no better way to get a crash course in the unique culture of New Orleans than to spend a day with one of the city’s brass bands. During the rest of the afternoon and evening, I rolled with the TBC from a repast in Treme to a memorial block party in honor of someone who had died recently in Gert Town, to a birthday in another part of Gert Town, to a wedding in New Orleans East, to the Divine Ladies Ball at the Mardi Gras Ballroom of the Landmark Hotel in Metairie before winding things down at the Sportsmen’s Ladies event at the Autocrat Social Aid and Pleasure Club on St. Bernard Avenue in the Seventh Ward. Along the way I saw much of the unique “buck-jumping” dance of New Orleans second-lining, members of various social aid and pleasure clubs, and even a few of the Indians in their elaborate hand-sewn regalia, all accompanied by the festive music of one of New Orleans’ best brass bands. The long day of music and celebration ended at 1:30 AM, as the band members and I all headed our separate ways for some badly-needed rest.