Even though we thought this would be a lazy month—things usually slow way down after Jazz Fest in New Orleans—there are quite a few things going on in the music scene in New Orleans.
Yes, this is the month to shake those hips (rhythmically, we hope) to the beat of reggae and World Beat music. Two major reggae festivals, Reggae Riddums on June 9-10 at City Park and Jamaica Jam Sunsplash ’90 on June 16 adjacent to the UNO Lakefront Arena. Part of a 40-city tour, Sunsplash ’90 features some of the greats in the international reggae scene: Burning Spear, Freddie McGregor, Marcia Griffiths and Shinehead, among many others.
Also in this issue of OffBeat, Gene Scaramuzzo gets to the root (pun intended, folks) of the Caribbean influence on New Orleans. The opening of the new club Kilimanjaro at 1700 Louisiana Avenue marks the first time a major club has opened that’s devoted to reggae, African and World Beat music.
OffBeat begins its coverage of New Orleans restaurants in this issue with, appropriately enough, Caribbean eateries. Next month, we’ll begin OffBeat‘s Finer Diner info column on New Orleans’ better restaurants. Look for it!
Of note: we’ve recently heard the new young band Def Generation, protégés of Cyril Neville. The band has a really different sound combining New Orleans second-line rhythms and horns with rap and hip-hop vocals. We also understand that in addition to helping the band musically, Cyril is very involved in helping youngsters in the community financially. Bravo, Cyril!
Speaking of the Nevilles, their new album River of Life, recorded again with Daniel Lanois’ crew, hits record stores in July.
Mamou just signed with MCA and will soon be seen in the new film Scorchers, starring Faye Dunaway among others.
The Columns Hotel holds its tenth anniversary party on Sunday, June 3 at 8 p.m., with the New Orleans Blues Department providing music and proprietors Jacques and Claire Creppel providing food and $1 drinks for guests. “This is our way of sharing the great memories we’ve had with our regulars over the years,” says Claire.
The Delta Music Business Initiative Conference, held just prior to Jazz Fest, was a major success according to attendees and speakers, who included such luminaries as Taylor Hackford. DMBI Executive Director Marcia Kavanaugh says plans are underway to promote New Orleans music and performers at the New Music Seminar in New York in mid-July, as well as in Europe. The DMBI also plans to help fund a school for sound producers and engineers in training. The idea for the training program was developed and will be headed up by Don Sidney, production coordinator for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Good news for WWOZ radio, which has gone through management and financial problems continuously over the past few months: the station’s been pledged $250,000 by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation over the next three years. One note of sadness, however: the Duke-A-Paducah, whose “New Orleans ’50s Show” was the highlight of WWOZ’s programming over the past nine years, has left the station temporarily to pursue other opportunities in New Orleans radio. From what we understand, the Duke’s being bombarded with requests for booking some of New Orleans’ R&B greats, and has started a new booking agency to handle those requests, The Duke and BB’s New Orleans Sounds. To get in touch with the agency for booking of Tommy Ridgley and the Untouchables, Ernie “Mother-In-Law” K-Doe, Robert “Barefootin'” Parker and a host of other New Orleans R&B favorites for private parties, conventions, clubs or fairs and festivals, call The Duke at 834-6865. Duke’s also planning a series of fundraisers for New Orleans musicians throughout the month of June at Jimmy’s (June 3 and 17 at 4 p.m.) and Bourbon St. Gospel & Blues, (June 10 and 24 at 6 p.m.) featuring many of New Orleans’ R&B stars.
And Jimmy’s will celebrate its 13th anniversary as a music club in New Orleans with special appearances by the Radiators on June 1 and 2.
There’s a stronger and stronger interest in New Orleans music around the globe—WGBH, Boston’s National Public Radio affiliate, taped several hours of the Jazz Fest for national broadcast live during the Fest. The program’s already run on many stations throughout the country during the Fest, but will be broadcast on a delayed basis on another 36 stations around the country. WGBH will also honor Louis Armstrong in a special two-part program to be broadcast on June 17 and 26. This program will be broadcast on NPR affiliates around the country, but unfortunately as of press time no local station has picked it up.
Michael Murphy and his Pelican Pictures multi-media production company, consisting of local music movers and shakers Mark Bingham, Jay Weigel and video producer Joe Sanford, were busy during Jazz Fest: 30 local production people along with the Pelican Pictures crew shot hundreds of hours of footage of the Fest for NHK, Japan’s largest television network. According to Murphy, the Japanese will have aired two programs by the time this issue of OffBeat goes to press, with many more in the works. Murphy’s really taking New Orleans to the world, with his work on Bluesstage (see April 1990 OffBeat).
Congratulations to the Rounder Party Pack winners who filled out our survey on the Jazz Fest in May. These are Steven Chabaud and Donna Bonner of New Orleans and Randi Schaffer of Idaho Springs, Colorado. Your records will be arriving soon, guys! Thanks for helping make OffBeat a better publication, and look for the results of the survey in upcoming issues of OffBeat. We can tell you (and it should come as no surprise) that Tipitina’s was named as favorite New Orleans club by our survey respondents.
Next month, OffBeat will publish its annual New Orleans and Louisiana Music and Entertainment Yellow Pages Directory, a compendium of music and entertainment professionals and performers in New Orleans and throughout the state. The Directory will be distributed worldwide, as it was last year, and is a valuable resource for anyone wanting to get information on all music/entertainment business personnel, as well as performers for booking purposes. Or you can just get to know the music/entertainment movers and shakers in New Orleans and throughout the state. By the way, OffBeat listings in the directory and OffBeat database are free for interested parties; just call us for more information on the directory at 522-5533.