Category Archives: New Orleans Music

New Orleans Music

It’s Carnival Time in New Orleans

If you go to New Orleans, you ought to go see the Mardi Gras. And it’s Carnival Time, and everybody’s havin’ fun! And you have to do the Mardi Gras Mambo. If you live in New Orleans or visit during Carnival, you cannot escape  hearing the basic soundtrack-these three songs are played on the radio and at parades constantly.  “Go to the Mardi Gras,” by Professor Longhair; “Mardi Gras Mambo,” by the Hawkettes; and “Carnival Time,” by Al “Carnival Time” Johnson. Of these, it’s interesting to know that Al Johnson, the pianist and singer who was born in 1939 and still looks closer to 50 than 72, wrote and recorded that incredibly catchy little tune when he was only 20. He walked into the legendary Cosimo Matassa’s studio (the place where Fats Domino’s hits were made) in December 1959, and producer Joe Ruffino recorded the song.  Its tricky first section still makes musicians who try to play it miserable, but it worked well enough to become a Mardi Gras anthem. It’s tricky because in the first section, right before the chord change, Al added an extra measure, tripping up the uninitiated musician.  Al still complains that often they don’t get it right. Doesn’t matter, it’s still eminently ear-worm material!

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New Orleans Music

Meschiya Lake, Great Jazz Voice

 

 

 

New Orleans is a place where the timeless sounds of jazz fill the air on any given night. One particularly notable voice in this great city is the smooth and sultry ragtime sound of Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns. Lake, who has called the Crescent City home for over ten years, has quite the interesting past. Her career began in a South Dakota steakhouse at age nine, where she won a $500 singing contest, and years down the road she ended up in a traveling circus, performing an array of acts, including insect eating and fire dancing. It was during this time when Lake fell in love with the city and soon became a fixture on Royal Street in the French Quarter, busking and becoming one of the city’s most admired street performers, often taking her act on tour both nationally and abroad.

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New Orleans Music

Local Jazz on Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street is really an awful place, good thing there is only one like it , you just have to turn the corner to awaken to an entirely different atmosphere. But sometimes you just have take a stroll and people watch.

The neon lights, blasting karaoke and rowdy crowd is part of the experience but you can step in to the Maison Bourbon Jazz Club situated on the corner of St. Peter’s Street and experience a taste of what we all dream old New Orleans to be like, with live jazz playing in this comfortable intimate setting. Thursday through Sunday nights be sure to check out Jamil Sharif head a quintet of talented local  musicians. Playing classic New Orleans tunes, you’ll find yourself tapping your feet, clapping your hands, and shouting your part in the call-and-response.

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New Orleans Music

“Joy” on Canal Street

Renewal of Downtown Theater Industry brings “Joy” to Canal Street.  As 2011 came to a close, the New Orleans’ entertainment circuit gained an exciting addition with the reopening of the Joy Theater, located at 1200 Canal Street. Its history as a popular movie theater, opening in 1947 with the screening of “Lover Come Back” starring Lucille Ball, ended in 2003, facing competition from multiplex cinemas and suffering damaging flooding during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The $5 million renovations to the theater have kept close to the original exterior plans and include state of the art sound and light systems, as well as wider seats and elevators. The new Joy is a multi-purpose venue available for concerts, theatre arts, private events, and move screenings, and kicked off with an electrifying performance from the “Soul Queen of New Orleans” herself, Irma Thomas, on December 29. The New Year’s Eve celebration featured local favorite Kermit Ruffins and the Barbeque Swingers.

In related news, plans for the reconstruction of the Saenger Theatre on Canal Street have been announced following financial approval. Construction will begin in the New Year, with plans to reopen in 2013 as a venue for touring Broadway productions, dance, and music. All of this good news points to a coming revitalization of the former downtown theater district where aesthetics and décor pay homage to the heyday of these historic buildings and the picture show culture of the past!

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New Orleans Music

Let the Good Times Bowl

While millions of tourists flock to New Orleans each year for the fun, food, and music, only the locals know that Mid-City staple Rock ‘N’ Bowl has it all — including an authentic New Orleans experience you just can’t find on Bourbon Street.

Still sporting many of the decorations and memorabilia from 1958, when neighboring Pelican Stadium accounted for most of the business, this late-night hot spot has a vib all its own. Rock ‘N’ Bowl’s 18 bowling lanes are complimented by a stage and dance floor, a menu of bar-style treats with a Cajun twist, and a fully stocked bar.

Like New Orleans itself, Rock ‘N’ Bowl is a unique mixture of old and young, generational residents and new transplants, serious bowlers and…the rest of us. I personally find it hard to care about the five pins still standing when Kermit Ruffins or the Iguanas or the Bucktown Allstars take the stage. It’s not unusual for a favorite band or song to send perfectly dressed jitterbuggers spilling off the dance floor and into the pits or even to catch a couple of regulars waltzing on the bar.

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French Quarter New Orleans Music Ogden Museum Preservation Hall

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art Presents : Preservation Hall Remembered: 50 Years of Jazz

This exhibit is worth a visit. It showcases the musicians of Preservation Hall, their music, and the art it inspired.You’ll view a collection of paintings, photographs, musical instruments and listen to recordings from strategically located ipods.

For me personally, it was a tribute to Allan and Sandra Jaffe , who in 1961 had the foresight to create the Society for the Preservation of New Orleans Jazz. We owe them a lot. What would New Orleans be without the music. They were passionate about the music and offered a place for the musicians to play and earn money. It wasn’t long after that the Preservation Hall Jazz band gained notoriety and began playing worldwide.

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