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Quint Davis: A Jazz Fest Producer Looks at 45

As the founding producer of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Quint Davis has been at the epicenter of the Jazz Fest universe for as long as the festival has existed.

Quint Davis, Jazz Fest 2014, OffBeat Magazine

Photo by: Elsa Hahne

Well before the gates opened for the first Jazz Fest in 1970, the idea for the festival that would go on to draw in hundreds of thousands of music devotees each year blossomed in his mind and heart.

There have been 44 Jazz Fests since that inaugural celebration of New Orleans music, culture, food, and musicians, but Davis doesn’t really think of Jazz Fest as his baby, which may be a good thing since that baby would be approaching middle age.

To Davis, the progression of the festival has been much more organic than that.

“We used to talk about how the festival has ‘grown up’ and this and that,” he said. “I just think of it like a miracle. I’ve got to go back to all the people that build the festival. It’s this team.”

Davis said he is consistently amazed by the hard work and dedication of the team that works on the festival every year, especially people like site director Tague Richardson, who has been literally building Jazz Fest for the past 40 years.

Even more amazing than the longevity of the Jazz Fest team is how much knowledge had to be learned on the job, Davis said. After all, the only way to practice putting on a massive music festival is by actually putting on a massive music festival.

“We weren’t hampered by what we didn’t know,” he said. “We just figured, ‘Oh, 10 stages? We can do that.’ This group of people that came together, grew up together, and became, in their own fields, the best people in the business.”

It’s been a while since Davis talked about the founders of the festival creating a second generation of the Jazz Fest family by having children. Now he talks about the “Jazz Fest grandkids” running amok through the Fairgrounds each year.

Much like the big name, national touring acts that Davis wrangles to the stage each year, the exact chemistry that binds together the Jazz Fest team and has made them so successful is impossible for him to pin down.

“It’s a little bit like U2 or the Rolling Stones or the Beatles,” he said. “Kids met when they were kids and played in little clubs, and 50 years later, those kids turn out to be the best bands in the history of the world. Well, who knew when they were kids playing in the bar? That’s how we are.”

Jazz Fest Executive Producer Quint Davis, Jazz Fest 2014

Photo by: Stephen Maloney

No one could have accurately predicted a major economic and tourism driving force emerging from the echos of the very first Jazz Fest. The first year was so poorly attended that school children had to be recruited to fill out the crowd at the Municipal Auditorium.

“There were 80 or 100 people, maybe,” Davis said. “Joyce [Wein] went into the Quarter to McDonogh 35 and asked them if they could do a field trip because there were so few people there.”

Davis said he shook hands with every person in attendance in 1970, but in the intervening years, he said tens of thousands of people have sworn to him that they were there the first year despite never having met him.

The real secret to the success of Jazz Fest lies in its willingness to evolve, according to Davis. The festival and the team that runs it have stayed current throughout the years by remaining in a state of constant adaptation.

“The festival is the history of the future,” he said. “We always say that heritage is not just looking in the rear view mirror. It’s looking back, but also looking out the windshield at what’s coming.”

In keeping with that sense of perpetual adaptation, Davis has developed the ability to compartmentalize the sometimes overwhelming effects of more than four decades of “Jazz Fest moments” in a way that always leaves him ready for next year.

“When the festival is over, I remember things in it, in kind of a photographic way to remember stuff,” he said. “I remember it, but it almost immediately goes in the same time period as every other one. Within a few days, I remember it the same way as I would something from five years, or 10 years ago.”

Another Jazz Fest, filed away. Another one ready to begin.

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Jazz Fest Volunteers Needed

Are you a supporter of local music and media? For over 25 years, OffBeat Magazine has been giving you the down and dirty on the local music scene every month. Interviews with musicians, a complete guide to music happenings in all the NOLA clubs, and more!

Jazz Fest Second Line, Kim Welsh, OffBeat Magazine

Come have some fun with us at Jazz Fest! (Photo by: Kim Welsh)

Show your support by joining us at Jazz Fest this year!

Pick up volunteer shifts and help us hand out copies of our  free annual, revered “Jazz Fest Bible” at the festival! It’s a fun and easy way to get involved.

2 shifts or 10 hours = 1 free Jazz Fest ticket!

When?

Shift dates: April 25th, 26th, & 27th and May 1st, 2nd, 3rd, & 4th

Shift times: 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

How?

Wanna join us for Jazz Fest and get your free day pass? Please email us (contact details below) with your name, age, relevant experience, why you’re interested in volunteering, and your shift availability.

Contact: Email alexthibadeau@gmail.com, or call Alex at (404) 274-0076 to sign-up or for more information.

Sign up NOW while you still can!

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Fudge Recording Studio Closes

For the last five years, Fudge Recording Studio has operated on Terpsichore Street in the Lower Garden District. For the decade before that, the space served as the private studio for perennial New Orleans rock band Better Than Ezra.

But owners Tom Drummond of Better Than Ezra, former Neville Brothers guitar player Shane Theriot, and Jack Miele from ‘80s party band the Molly Ringwalds have decided to close Fudge Recording Studio for good.

Jack Miele, Fudge Studios, OffBeat Magazine

Jack Miele at Fudge Studios. (Photo Courtesy of Jack Miele)

The decision was not motivated by a lack of clients, but rather new opportunities that have led the trio in different directions.

“Everybody had different opportunities that were coming up,” Miele said. “Shane just got the gig playing with Hall and Oats and also as the music director for Live from Daryl’s House, and one of the prerequisites of the job was that he move to New York. Ezra has a new record deal and a new record, so Tom is going to be on tour for a lot of the year coming up, and there are a lot of opportunities for him.”

For his part, Miele said he will be taking up residence at the Music Shed, moving his board and equipment to that location and operating as a sort of producer in residence.

“Believe me, this didn’t come easy,” he said. “It came after a lot of debate and a lot of contemplation. I’m going to have my own production suite there [at the Music Shed], and it’s going to have all the same gear that Fudge had. It’s basically going to be a really killer overdub studio.”

Out of all the artists he recorded at Fudge, Miele said two really stand out as favorites.

“Personally, my favorites would be the Wood Brothers and One Republic,” he said. “The way that both of those bands worked was so inspiring. To watch the way Ryan Tedder produced, that guy’s mind is incredible the way he can multitask. Boundless energy, and he was somehow able to compartmentalize incredible thoughts.”

Tedder would have five or six people creating melody lines, beats, lyrics, and other components of new songs simultaneously, Miele said, producing 10 new songs from scratch in one night.

“The Wood Brothers, for their album The Muse, they wrote and recorded all of the demos for that record live at the studio,” he said. “I set them up in a circle, and everybody cut everything live. They re-tracked the final record in Nashville, and when it came out, some songs I almost couldn’t tell the difference between the demos and the final tracks.”

While it may be easy to bemoan the closing of Fudge, Miele has taken a different point of view. It’s hard for him to knock a move caused by continuing musical success since the musicality of the owners was what made Fudge special.

“Our motto was ‘A Studio By Musicians For Musicians’” Miele said. “Everybody who owned it or worked there was a really great musician. We weren’t just engineers. We understood how to speak to musicians like a musician would and how to get certain things out of people. There was definitely a production quality to Fudge that was great, and I want to bring that same spirit that we had at Fudge over to the Music Shed.”

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Professor Longhair in the News and Ready for his Close Up

Everyone in New Orleans has heard at least one Professor Longhair tune in their life, but the late piano master deserves a much wider audience. With a recent write up in the Washington Post and a pair of films about his life on the horizon, wider appeal may soon be a reality.

John Bonham, drummer of Led Zeppelin, with Professor Longhair. Photo by Sidney Smith.

John Bonham with Professor Longhair. Photo by Sidney Smith.

While Henry Roeland Byrd may have passed away in 1980, his spirit and musicianship live on in the New Orleans region. Simply put – Mardi Gras wouldn’t sound the same without him.

In an article by Mark Guarino that ran in the Washington Post on April 18 called “Spirit of Professor Longhair alive at New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival,” Quint Davis and Dr. John talk about meeting Fess for the first time, what his music means to New Orleans, and what impact his legacy has had.

The recent “Fesstoration” project to save Fess’ house is also profiled, along with a pair of intriguing film projects that are currently in the works.

According to the article, New Orleans filmmaker Lily Keber, whose credits include the amazing James Booker doc Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius of James Booker, is currently working on a film about Fess, as is Grant Morris, a screenwriter whose script Tipitina has attracted the attention of none other than Samuel L. Jackson for the title role.

Fess may finally be attracting the type of attention he has long deserved. But what do you think about the potential casting choice? Would Samuel L. Jackson be right for the role?

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Photos: Southern Soul Assembly at the Howard Theater

The Southern Soul Assembly wrapped up its wildly successful tour at the historic Howard Theater in Washington, D.C., on April 12.

Anders Osborne, Marc Broussard, JJ Grey and Luther Dickinson have spent the last couple of months playing their favorite songs with each other, thrilling audiences in the unusual combination of four band leaders in one band.

The group rolled through Broussard’s “Home,” Osborne’s “Summertime In New Orleans,” Grey’s “Brighter Days” and “Lochloosa,” and Dickinson’s “Shake,” among many others.

The night was finished off when Marc Broussard stood at the front of the stage without a mic or guitar and sang a song a capella.

All photos by Bob Adamek.

Southern Soul Assembly, Howard Theater, Bob Adamek, OffBeat Magazine

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Giveaway: Slightly Stoopid Prize Pack + Tickets to April 24 Show at the Joy

Slightly Stoopid is returning to New Orleans to headline a show at the Joy Theater on April 24, and we’ve got a lot to give away to get you ready for the show courtesy of Huka Entertainment.

Our Grand Prize Winner will walk away with:

  • 2 tickets to see Slightly Stoopid on April 24th at The Joy Theater
  • 1 Meet & Greet with Slightly Stoopid for winner and a friend
  • 2 Slightly Stoopid branded lighters
  • 2 Slightly Stoopid stickers
  • 2 Slightly Stoopid Lanyards
  • 2 Slightly Stoopid Magnets
  • 1 copy of Slightly Stoopid’s “Top Of The World” album
  • 1 copy of Slightly Stoopid’s “Slightly Not Stoned Enough To Eat Breakfast Yet”

Our second place winner will walk away with a pair of tickets to the show, so that’s good too.

Slightly Stoopid, 4.24.14, Joy Theater, OffBeat Magazine

Special guests Karl Denson, Ian Neville, and “The Uptown Ruler” Cyril Neville will all take the stage, with Mariachi El Bronx and The Expanders kicking things off before Slightly Stoopid.

Doors open at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 24, and the show starts at 8 p.m. Enter now for your chance to win!

Winners will be announced on Wednesday, April 23, and the prize pack and tickets will be available for pickup at the OffBeat offices at 421 Frenchmen Street.

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New Orleans Concert Picks of the Week: April 17 – April 23, 2014

Hungry for live music… Look no further! Here’s OffBeat’s look at New Orleans’ top concerts for the week of April 17 – April 23, 2014 featuring: the Breton Sound, Hot Club of New Orleans, Alexandra Scott, Dr. Michael White Jazz Band, George Porter, Jr. and Friends, Stanton Moore Trio, and Dick Dale.

Full ScheduleLouisiana Music on TourAdd a New Listing

 

April 17April 18April 19April 20April 21April 22April 23

 

THURSDAY, APRIL 17

  • Armstrong Park: Jazz in the Park feat. Glen David Andrews (JV) 4p
  • Civic Theatre: Umphrey’s McGee, Lionize (RK) 7p
  • Gasa Gasa: the Breton Sound, Pinkerton (ID) 8p
  • Historic New Orleans Collection: New Orleans Nightingales (JV) 6p
  • Palm Court Jazz Café: Duke Heitger and Tim Laughlin with Crescent City Joymakers and Cori Walters (TJ) 8p
  • Rock ‘n’ Bowl: Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas (ZY) 8:30p

 

FRIDAY, APRIL 18

  • d.b.a.: Hot Club of New Orleans (JV) 6p, Gristle Candy feat. John “Papa” Gros, Alex McMurray, Jake Eckert, Casandra Faulconer and Russ Broussard (RK) 10p
  • Howlin’ Wolf: Rebirth Brass Band (BB) 10p
  • Little Gem Saloon: Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns (JV) 8p
  • Maple Leaf: Colin Lake Band (BL) 10:30p
  • Publiq House: George Porter Jr. and his Runnin’ Pardners (FK) 9p

 

SATURDAY, APRIL 19

  • Louisiana Music Factory: Alexandra Scott (SS) 2p, the Mumbles (JV) 4p
  • Maple Leaf: Gaynielle Neville CD-release party (FK) 10:30p
  • Old Point Bar: Diablo’s Horns (VR) 9:30p
  • Snug Harbor: Herlin Riley Quartet (MJ) 8 & 10p

 

SUNDAY, APRIL 20

  • Maison: Dave Easley, Linnzi Zaorski (JV) 5p, Soul Project (FK) 10p
  • Maple Leaf: Joe Krown Trio feat. Russell Batiste and Walter “Wolfman” Washington (FK) 10p
  • Palm Court Jazz Café: Lucien Barbarin and Sunday Night Swingsters with Meghan Swartz (TJ) 8p
  • Snug Harbor: Dr. Michael White Jazz Band (MJ) 8 & 10p
  • Three Muses: Ben Polcer (JV) 11:30a, Raphael Bas and Norbert Slama (JV) 5:30p, Debbie Davis (JV) 8p
  • Tipitina’s: Todd Snider (FO) 8:30p

 

MONDAY, APRIL 21

  • Funky Pirate: Gary Brown Band (BL) 8p
  • Kerry Irish Pub: Kim Carson (FO) 8:30p
  • Maple Leaf: George Porter Jr. and friends (FK) 10p

 

TUESDAY, APRIL 22

  • Columns Hotel: New Orleans Guitar Quartet feat. Cranston Clements, Phil DeGruy, John Rankin and Jimmy Robinson (JV) 8p
  • Hi-Ho Lounge: 21st Century and Most Wanted Brass Bands (BB) 10p
  • Snug Harbor: Stanton Moore Trio (MJ) 8 & 10p

 

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23

  • d.b.a.: Tin Men (RK) 7p, Walter “Wolfman” Washington and the Roadmasters (BL) 10p
  • Gasa Gasa: Papa Mali, Pigeon Town (FK) 8p
  • Howlin’ Wolf: Dick Dale (RK) 10p
  • Lafayette Square: Wednesday at the Square feat. Theresa Andersson, Paul Sanchez and the Rolling Road Show (RR) 5p
  • Rock ‘n’ Bowl: Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue (CW) 8p

Dick Dale at the Howlin’ Wolf.

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Get Ready for Record Store Day on Saturday, April 19

Record stores across New Orleans are gearing up for Record Store Day with live music and special deals on vinyl records on April 19, 2014.

Analisa Cisneros at the Louisiana Music Factory said Record Store Day always attracts a wide variety of serious music lovers.

Louisiana Music Factory, Record Store Day, OffBeat Magazine

Photo Courtesy of Louisiana Music Factory

“It’s kind of like their holiday, their Christmas,” she said. “But with a little bit of a roulette wheel feeling because not everything will be available at every place. There’s definitely a treasure hunt that goes on.”

Since Record Store Day is a national effort focused on generating interest in vinyl records, there won’t be too many albums by New Orleans acts available through the promotion, but that doesn’t mean local music lovers will have a hard time finding great music.

The Warner Brothers label is releasing a bevy of interesting albums, including the soundtrack for the movie “Bullitt” by composer Lalo Schifrin, an album featuring David Bowie and William S. Burroughs, and a series of seven inch records featuring two different acts performing the same song, from The Cure and Dinosaur Jr. performing “Just Like Heaven,” to the Flaming Lips and Devo performing “Gates of Steel.”

There will be two live in store performances at Louisiana Music Factory, Alexandra Scott at 2 p.m. and the Mumbles at 3 p.m., and that’s not all in terms of live attractions for vinyl music lovers on Record Store Day.

Peaches Records on N. Peters Street in the French Quarter will host a keg party and an exotic animal parade that ends in a petting zoo.

Atlantic Records recording artist and local Louisiana rapper Kevin Gates, whose new mixtape “By Any Means” has earned Billboard acclaim, will make a special in-store appearance for a meet-and-greet with fans.

Euclid Records will celebrate two big events on Saturday – the grand opening of the new location at 331 Chartres and Record Store Day – with free beer (while it lasts) and a full schedule of live music between noon and 6 p.m. including Tuba Skinny at 1 p.m., Idle Club Hour at 3 p.m., and MadFro at 4 p.m.

Overall, Cisneros said she has seen Record Store Day help rekindle in vinyl records over the past five years.

“It really has made collecting vinyl cool again,” she said. “It’s really great for the stores because they put out a free listing, and the collectors will go from store to store to try to find as much as they can. It’s really great for everyone.”

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Freaksheaux to Geaux 3rd Resurrect-Aversary at the AllWays Lounge

Get sacrilegious on Good Friday with vaudeville sideshow Freaksheaux to Geaux. The macabre troupe of performers is celebrating its third annual Resurrect-Aversary at 10 p.m. on April 18th at the AllWays Lounge.

Complete with burlesque, acrobatics and rapturous hellfire, Freaksheaux’s third Resurrect-Aversary is a shamelessly fun way to start off Easter weekend.

Freaksheaux to Geaux, AllWays Lounge

Freaksheaux to Geaux proprietress Judith Kali founded the group in 2011 out of a desire to create a sideshow with a distinct New Orleans flair. The Crescent City was already dripping with burlesque, but vaudeville was in dire need of a revival, Kali said.

“We’re trying to do a departure from most vaudeville shows that are purely centered on strip tease by including some more variety acts,” she said. “Freaksheaux is something I started to be challenging.”

Freaksheaux to Geaux’s debut performance fell on the night before Easter, prompting Kali to ironically name the show “the Resurrection.” Keeping with tradition, Freaksheaux celebrates its anniversary every April with the Resurrect-Aversary.

On the Freaksheaux stage, Kali assumes the alter ego of daring fire dancer Mistress Kali. The Mistress has performed with fire for 12 years, but she also is skilled in pole dancing, burlesque and lying on a bed of nails.

Among Freaksheaux’s other notable performers are Sam the Aquatic, Freaksheaux’s star contortionist and acrobat, and local darling Oops the Clown. The Resurrect-Aversary also features a live band and performers from around the country. This year’s special guests are Sidetracked, an award-winning comedic duo from Philadelphia that specialize in vaudeville-style storytelling and comedy.

Though Freaksheaux is a relatively new group, Kali said its eclectic cast of performers draws audiences from all ages.

“We definitely appeal to the 21-35 age range, but we have folks up into their 80s watching. It makes me really happy and proud,” Kali said.

Despite Freaksheaux to Geaux’s rapid growth, Kali is already developing new ideas to expand the local and regional vaudeville community. Freaksheaux to Geaux is heading out on the road to perform in regional festivals and events. The circus recently performed in San Antonio, TX, for a packed house. The concept of a new vaudeville festival is also brewing amongst Kali and her cohorts.

“I really want to bring a little piece of New Orleans out to other cities,” Kali said. “We are definitely doing more small tour events. We went from monthly to quarterly shows so we could work on more out-of-town shows.”

The Resurrect-Aversary is one of the last opportunities to see lurid circus Freaksheaux to Geaux before the troupe leaves on tour. General admission for this irreverent event costs $15 at the door.

Patrons can also purchase VIP tickets in advance to get “splash zone” seating and table service.

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John Gros and Gristle Candy Bring Something New to d.b.a.

Although it has a somewhat unusual name, when the new roots rock band Gristle Candy takes the stage at d.b.a. on Friday, April 18, the audience will see a lot of familiar faces.

The band, led by John “Papa” Gros of Papa Grows Funk fame and featuring Alex McMurray of the Tin Men, Jake Eckert of the New Orleans Suspects, Casandra Faulconer of Cowboy Mouth, and Russ Broussard of Susan Cowsill’s Band, is overflowing with an eclectic mix of talent.

While Papa Grows Funk was in full swing, Gros would occasionally pull together a hodgepodge of available musicians to host what he called “Papa’s Special” nights, which were outlets for the musicians involved to play music that didn’t fall within the scopes of their respective regular bands.

John Gros, Alex McMurray, photo, Stephen Maloney, OffBeat Magazine

John Gros and Alex McMurray. (Photo by: Stephen Maloney)

Gristle Candy started out as one of those groups, but quickly became something more when the band started to gel almost immediately.

“It’s one of those things where the chemistry exceeds everybody’s abilities,” Gros said. “Even on our first night, it was so apparent. It was just a treat playing some really good stuff with some really mature players.”

Gros said he recruited the other members of the band because he really likes their individual musical output and gets along with them as people, so the instant musical chemistry has grown out of that feeling.

“It all fell together that first night,” he said. “Someone told me who was there ‘I was at the first Papa Grows Funk gig, and this had that same kind of magic.’”

While the members of Gristle Candy are all treating this as a side project, they are having so much fun that this configuration will continue, Gros said.

While there have been no new songs written specifically for Gristle Candy, each musician has delved deep into their own back catalogue to unearth songs that didn’t fit in well with other projects.

“For my stuff, I would say it’s more along the ‘groovy rock’ sound, as opposed to the ‘hard funk’ sound,” Gros said. “It’s just something different that I haven’t really been able to do in a while. I want to be able to exercise all of these different musical personalities that I have and share them with people, and this one just really worked out great.”

And as for the name? Gros gives Alex McMurray full credit for coming up with Gristle Candy.

“When we got this date for d.b.a., I told everyone the only way we were going to do it was if we came up with a name,” he said. “Being that Alex is just a wielder of words, I told him to come up with one. I sent him a list of ideas I had, and all of the sudden I get an email at an odd hour, and all it said was ‘Gristle Candy.’ Just those two words. I sent him an email back immediately that said ‘perfect.’”

Gristle Candy
Friday, April 18
10 pm
d.b.a.
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