Mega-Classes

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I might just be speaking from personal opinion here. But I really don’t believe that sitting in a lecture hall of 600+ students in Cox is a good way to learn. Is it because budget cuts have reduced the number of professors that teach these subjects? Or is this just LSU taking the easy way out? There must be research out there to prove that there is a lot less learning/attention span/accountability in these mega-classes as opposed to a smaller one.  

 

 

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Jaaaaaazzzzzz Fesst!

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The first weekend of Jazz Fest featured classic acts such as The Beach Boys, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and Bruce Springsteen. In recent years, the festival has also featured artists for the young adult crowd. Examples for this year include Givers, Bon Iver, Iron & Wine and Feist.

Feist

On Saturday, I was not only able to see the entirety of Carolina Chocolate Drops’ set, but I also spent some time with them backstage before the show. Student media photographer, Mariah Postlethwaite, and I ventured behind the Sheraton Stage to speak with the Drops.

When we mentioned we were from LSU and living in Baton Rouge, Dom Flemons, Drops’ multi-instrumentalist, said he heard we had awful traffic. Great. Having a  #1 party school and bad traffic is what we’re known for. Nonetheless, they were very laid-back and genuinely nice people.

Carolina Chocolate Drops have a very unique sound. They spice up old blues and bluegrass songs from the early 1900s and create their own fresh version. Their shows bring you back to a simpler time, but not without zest and fire.

Carolina Chocolate Drops

Lead singer and fiddler,  Rhiannon Giddens, brings so much passion to the stage, as evident in “No Man’s Mama” and their popular cover of “Hit ‘Em Up Style.” KLSU’s listeners call the station just about every time it’s played to inquire about the artist. I asked Flemons if that song gets annoying because of its popularity. “Nah, that song is special to us… You can’t hate the song that brought you fans,” he replied.

They were also very interactive with the crowd, making us sing “Hi-hi diddala day” and commenting on how blood-thirsty we were, cheering for “Hit “Em Up Style.”  Drops includes a variety of instruments in their music, including fiddles, banjos, cellos, jugs, bones, kazoos and human beatboxing.

After their set, we headed over to the Gentilly Stage to catch Feist, who was wearing a huge sun hat and sunglasses. The folk a cappella group, Mountain Man, sang backup in their matching flowy dresses. By this time, the sun was setting over the stage and a breeze kept the crowd cool. People were asleep in the grass across the field with others closely packed to see Feist. She played a variety of songs from her discography including coin songs such as “How Come You Never Go There” and “1234.”

Yeah Jazz Fest.

Feist’s band made her songs more bassy and dancy, and the back-up singers, Mountain Man, added the perfect drip of honey. Their range of pitches created the perfect harmonies. Feist was a very fun, interactive front person. She had the crowd respond in different a cappella pitches when she asked where they were from. What resulted was a very hodge-podge off-key sound, but it was still fun, of course.

Although I didn’t get to see many artists, Jazz Fest is something Louisiana has to be proud of. I highly recommend everyone should go at least once and experience this part of our culture.


Important Upcoming Shows

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Toubab Krewe @ The Maison in New Orleans. May 1 & 2

Although it is of course a matter of which show is more convenient to attend, I highly recommend the May 1 show, featuring  Freekbass, Nikki Glaspie (Dumpstaphunk) and Nigel Hall (Lettuce)

And the May 2 show will be played with Alan Evans Trio, a soul/southern rock instrumental group.

A laid-back instrumental band that emphasizes rhythms and melodies of Mali and fuses with a kind of southern rock sound. The band traveled to Mali for a few months in 2005 and played with local musicians to fully understand the Kora  (21-string harp-lute), kamelengoni (12-string harp-lute), soku (Malian horsehair fiddle).

After their show at Deluna Festival in October, I was able to speak to percussionist, Luke Quaranta. After a 30 minute interview in their trailer, their desire to make music for the purpose of love and community was clear.

They produce a very soulful, beautiful sound that sinks to your core.

Soulive & Lettuce @ The Howlin’ Wolf in New Orleans. May 3

Soulive and Lettuce are no strangers to New Orleans, especially playing shows together. They were in town about a year ago on May 5. I stupidly chose to make enchiladas that day instead. Not this time!

This is going to be one funky night. The fresh crispness of Lettuce paired with the dirty south funk of Soulive, phew. My only advice is to buy your ticket ahead of time, and bring your dancing shoes– I can guarantee you won’t be able to stand still.

Snarky Puppy & Captain Green @ The Roux House May 4

The long-anticipated “Paint Dat Music” is finally approaching. Featuring internationally acclaimed jazz fusion band, Snarky Puppy and local funk kings, Captain Green, who is releasing  new album “Everywhere Is Where It’s At”

Local artists Jacob ZumoHalley Dunn, Marc Fresh and Grace Calandra Emden will be painting live to a light show presented by GRP Productions. DJ Matt Cee will be mixing grooves during set-up and break-down. The venue will be decorated with previous art works from the four artists, all for sale.

 

Be looking out for my next post featuring an interview with bassist Michael Leagues of Snarky Puppy.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

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Representing the best music and food of Louisiana, Jazz Fest is a staple of New Orleans culture that hundreds of thousands attend every year.

Beach Boys. Bruce Springstein. The Eagles. Foo Fighters. Jimmy Buffet. Neville Brothers. Tom Petty. Feist. Bon Iver. Florence & the Machine. Iron & Wine.

No doubt you’ve heard music from these renowned headliners. But let’s explore some of the lesser known artists playing on the festival grounds.

First weekend of Jazz Fest: Friday April 27- Sunday April 29

Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes

Fri. 12:40-1:40 on the Gentilly Stage

While it is an early show on a weekday, it  would be a good way to kick off the festival. For the past 11 years, this band has competed in the funk/rock scene of New Orleans. They’ve got a swampy funk vibe thanks to the punchy horns mixed with  southern rock guitar and lyrics about New Orleans, parties, and love– especially of that infamous, foxy lady named “Ophelia.”

Lagniappe:  They all go by Johnny. There’s Johnny Sketch, Dirty Johnny, Johnny Rico, Johnny Rocket, and then there’s Busta Gnutt.. (all according to their website’s bio page). I respect a band with a sense of humor.

Carolina Chocolate Drops

Sat. 4:20-5:35 at the Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do-Do Stage

A back-to-the-roots black string band from North Carolina whose sound exemplifies feel-good knee slappin’ southern tunes complete with banjo, fiddle, guitar, jug, kazoo and beatboxer, Adam Matta. One of their more popular songs is a cover of “Hit Em Up Style”  which has a lot more pazazz than their typical tracks, but Rhiannon Giddens’ spunk brings a lot to the stage– as seen in their performance at Mass MoCA in 2010.

Walter “Wolfman” Washington & The Roadmasters

Sat. 2:55-3:55 at the Blues Tent

Washington is not a new face to Jazz Fest; his soulful vocals have been pleasing audiences since the 1970s. Closing out Saturday night at the lovely French Quarter Festival last weekend, his groovy fusion band was great for both listening and dancing. It’s the kind of music you’d expect to hear at a late-late night club in New Orleans, although listening to him in the 3 p.m. sunshine will be just fine too.

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Second Weekend: Thursday May 3- Sunday May 6

Glen Hansard

Thurs. 12:55-2:00 at Acura Stage

Ireland born acoustic guitarist and vocalist is most known for his bands The Swell Season and The Frames. I first heard of Hansard from the movie “Once,” a cute movie about making music and falling in love. Regardless, he sings with a passion that gets inside you and makes you want to embrace your loved ones.

Ani DiFranco

Thurs. 4:15-5:30  at Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do-Do Stage

DiFranco’s soul goes into everything she does, and my, is it beautiful! She’s a folksinger from New York who, like many musicians, settled in New Orleans and calls it home. Her music flows into many genres, but I assume her act at Jazz Fest will be primarily folk and perhaps some spoken word. I highly recommend seeing this gem of an artist.

*This song contains vulgar language

I encourage you to try something new. Give some of the lesser-known artists a listen on the Jazz Fest website before you just stick to the big stages and the artists you know. This festival is a treasure chest.

Jazz Fest now has an iphone app where you can access the schedule, see a map of the grounds, locate vendors, upload photos, listen to Jazz Fest radio, etc.

For more information, visit http://www.nojazzfest.com/

Value of College Radio

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Our fourth annual fundraiser came to a close today. I’ve been on air this week talking a lot about what KLSU has done for me, but I’ve barely covered it.

My first semester at LSU was miserable. All of my friends were in New Orleans and I couldn’t think of a place I’d rather be. But here I was, living in a dorm filled with sorority girls, no knowledge of a music scene and few close friends.

I filled out a KLSU application on a whim that fall, though I had heard they hire exclusively and I doubted I would get a show.

But over winter holiday, I received a call from Matt Bruce, the program director at the time. He was interested that I had a recommendation from our student media director, Bob Ritter, and that I had previous radio experience (a Saturday morning teen talk show in high school).

I wrote on my application that I wanted to do a jam band show or an electronic show. Turns out, there hadn’t been a jam band show in two semesters. So just like that, Jam Spread was born.

I was thrilled to have a specialty show about the music I loved. The mandatory meeting that everyone seemed to be groaning about had me glowing the whole day.

Although my show was on Saturdays from 9-11 p.m., I went to the station whenever I had free time on campus. I wanted to meet everyone and be a part of the family. The fundraiser was a high point because I got to spend time with other DJs who typically only came in for their shows.

I slowly started getting more acclimated with the Baton Rouge music scene, which kept me sane in a town I had little faith in before. I was thrilled to be in contact with many of the local jammers and played their music on Jam Spread.

My dedication hadn’t gone unnoticed. In the fall of 2011, I co-hosted Green Eggs Ba-Bam with Dirty Dave and became promotions assistant. I’ve been able to meet artists, conduct interviews, write show/album reviews and the list goes on.

What I really love is that I feel like I’m promoting something worthwhile. Music lives inside of you, parallels your moods,  lifts your spirits, lets you cry, makes you laugh. It can bring you back to your childhood and get you through a hard time.

Local music reaches out to us because it’s sharing an emotion with not just the musicians, but the audience as well. I blog a lot about energies and vibes because they are crucial to a live performance.

I couldn’t be more proud to work for a radio station that promotes local music the way KLSU does. There’s a saying I like that goes, “We work the desk jobs, so musicians don’t have to.”

I promote artists and musicians because we need them as much as they need us.

For information on KLSU, visit http://www.klsuradio.fm

Paint Dat Music

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Production companies and individuals around Baton Rouge are adopting live painting/music events. Easy Breathe Productions has now put on two over the last few months with more to come.

On Friday at Happy’s Irish Pub, which is not known for holding artsy events, comfortably fit 4 painters and a band in its outside area. Multi-colored lights emphasized artists’ completed paintings hung on the brick walls.

There were painters, spray painters, and even body painters on the sides of the stage by local artists Jacob Zumo, Amber Nichole Gendron, Jonathan Palmisano and Grace Calandra Emden. Righteous Buddha played first, an organ-based jazz/funk quartet that began in 1999.

Due to a lack of communication, the sound technicians arrived during Righteous Buddha’s set and assembled amps on the stage. Because of this, Righteous Buddha stopped playing and packed up earlier than planned.

What seemed like forever, deejays filled the empty space with Top 40s from the last five years. At least the painting went on, despite the lack of inspiration from the music.

Stage Coach Bandits played next with their variety of jam originals and covers like The Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post.”

When Stage Coach Bandits finished, it was still only 12:30. Luckily most of Captain Green was already in the audience and played a set. Annalies Martinez’s honey whiskey voice accompanied with some vocal jams as well.

Although the event planning was not seamless, the weather was beautiful, art was made and music jammed.

Promo  featuring a brief interview I conducted with Drew McArdle of Easy Beathe Productions.

 

Everywhere Is Where It’s At

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Ahh, St. Patrick’s Day, which Louisiana basically hijacked and celebrate just like Mardi Gras minus two colors, has never been my favorite holiday. After yesterday, however, I have a new appreciation.

I spent St. Patrick’s Day with Baton Rouge jam band, Captain Green. They had three shows that day, with the grand finale being in New Orleans. I packed a day bag with oranges, water, granola bars, Abita Strawberry Beers, phone, and a tube of glitter (it just makes everything a little more magical).

I biked to Uncle Earls on Perkins Road where they were having their third annual St. Patty’s Day festival with two outside stages. Lineup consisted of Captain Green, Hazy Ray, Beer for Breakfast, Redheaded Stepchild, Jonathan “Boogie” Long and others leading up headliner Everclear, a grungy, alternative-rock 90s band.

Captain Green played around 1, but the crowd was primarily still inside the bar. I went inside to see a bunch of fraternities and sororities clad in green mingling and listening to typical bar music. I asked the DJ to make an announcement to these clearly oblivious parade-goers that the live music outside had started.

This was also guitarist Andrew Davis’ first show playing with Captain Green.  Since Jonathan “Boogie” Long won Guitar Center’s King of the Blues competition, Boogie has been focusing on his blues band, and Captain has been mostly guitarless since fall.  After the band played, we ate our fill of complimentary red beans and rice and packed up the equipment, unfortunately unable see the rest of the bands play.

Darin Jones, saxophonist, and I biked down Perkins Road to Chelsea’s Cafe where Easy Breathe Productions organized local jam bands, Captain Green, Gris Gris and Onion Loaf to play a free festival in the backyard.

The atmosphere in the grass around local music supporters was much happier than at Uncle Earls; it reflected in the music too.

One problem I encounter as a music blogger is that when I’m drunk I can’t remember details of shows. But music and alcohol pair well together, and this was St. Patrick’s Day. So when the Jameson shots were offered, I could not resist. Thus, the rest of my time at Chelsea’s was an awesome blur of dancing, conversing with music lovers, and sandwiches.

Robby Bizot, manager of Captain Green, and I walked off the Jameson on our way back to his car (bike riding was hazardous).  Glittery, sticky from sweat and sunburned we went to the gas station to fill the tank and get energy drinks and ibuprofen.

The show at The Maison was awesome, but I was unfortunately too tired to dance at this point. Onion Loaf put on a fantastic show as well, and when they announced they were a band from Baton Rouge, I beamed with pride.

I couldn’t have asked for a better day filled with Green.

Captain Green’s album “Everywhere is Where It’s At” will be released on May 4, at Paint Dat Music at Roux House when they share the stage with SNARKY PUPPY.

http://www.captaingreenmusic.com/

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