Author Archives: John Swenson

Rotary Downs, Traces (Rookery Records)

Rotary Downs is an unclassifiable New Orleans band. Therein lies its greatness, nestled right alongside its obscurity. The word used most often to describe RD is “psychedelic” but in truth this band has nothing to do with the general impressions engendered by that word. RD sounds nothing like the San Francisco bands of the later [...]

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Fest Focus 2014: Clive Wilson

New Orleans music is a siren call for players from all over the world. Trumpeter Clive Wilson emigrated here from England to immerse himself in the Black American ethos at a time when New Orleans was struggling to overcome entrenched racial hostility. Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it was illegal for blacks and [...]

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Fest Focus 2014: Roy Rogers

Slide-guitar wizard Roy Rogers has racked up a great history of Jazz Fest performances over the years and should add to that list in his set at this year’s event. “I have a great time down there,” says Rogers. “It’s always been a good time. I’m bringing a special guest, Carlos Reyes. He plays violin [...]

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The Life of Rebirth Brass Band

The Rebirth Brass Band is one of the great musical institutions in New Orleans history; the group best defines the transition between traditional and contemporary brass bands. Rebirth is about to release a new album, Move Your Body, its first since the Grammy-winning Rebirth of New Orleans in 2011. Rebirth’s creative depth, versatility and personal [...]

Fishhead Man Ed Volker Returns to Jazz Fest

Ed Volker became the shaman of the New Orleans “Fishhead” subculture back in the 1970s when he described his band’s style as “Fishhead music.” Now he is bringing it all back home at Jazz Fest 2014. Volker will perform with Joe Cabral on baritone saxophone and Michael Skinkus on percussion as Trio Mollusc, and will [...]

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Walter “Wolfman” Washington & the Roadmasters, Howlin’ Live at d.b.a., New Orleans (Frenchmen Street Records)

Over the past few years, d.b.a. has been selling tickets to heaven on Wednesday nights, when two long-running residencies take place: the early show by the Tin Men followed by the magnificent Walter “Wolfman” Washington. Washington, the iconic guitarist and vocalist whose storied career dates back to the glory days of New Orleans R&B, when [...]

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Debbie Davis and the Mesmerizers, Linger Til Dawn (Independent)

Debbie Davis stands out in the crowd of vocalists like a bird-of-paradise in a roomful of parakeets. Her voice is a magnificent, near-operatic instrument and her theatrical instincts are the stuff of Broadway musical-level performance. When she takes the stage at Three Muses or d.b.a., one hand cocked saucily on her waist, the other brandishing [...]

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All For Harold: Jazz Journalists Honor Jazz Hero Harold Battiste

Harold Battiste has been named a “Jazz Hero” by the New Orleans chapter of the Jazz Journalists Association and will be honored on April 30, International Jazz Day, at the Louisiana Music Factory at 4 p.m. and then again at 6:30 p.m. before a free concert led by his protégé Jesse McBride and the New [...]

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BackTalk: Getting Around with Sousaphone and Bassist Matt Perrine

With Carnival season in high gear and French Quarter Fest, then Jazz Fest, just around the corner, New Orleans musicians become marathoners. Matt Perrine, whose sousaphone and bass has been a mainstay of the city’s sound for 23 years, is particularly busy, having rejoined Bonerama after a family-obligations hiatus. Perrine may miss a gig or [...]

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Marc Stone, Josh Paxton and Freddie Staehle’s New Groove

Singer-songwriter, guitarist and WWOZ DJ Marc Stone has been working as a duo with keyboardist Josh Paxton in recent years. After a chance meeting with legendary New Orleans drummer Freddie Staehle last month, the three musicians found a simpatico groove and will be the featured Saturday night band at Buffa’s starting in March. “It was [...]

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