It has been nearly three months since I left New Orleans, but the music has not left me. I’ve got days of music on iTunes and a lifetime of music on Spotify, so it’s almost always with me. But, it is not the same thing as being in a sweaty, smoky bar on Frenchmen Street or walking beside a brass band on Orleans Avenue.
However, several things have crossed my radar in recent days to get my toe tapping:
First, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is coming to the Portsmouth Music Hall on Friday, June 15th. Yes, I bought tickets months ago, but it is now imminent. No, it’s not the same thing as entering their stark, yet hallowed hall on St. Peter Street. For one, it’s a lot more expensive; but, you don’t have to wait in line with a bunch of drunks or stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the back for the first set. Although I’ll miss sitting on the floor in front of the band for the second set. The tour helps mark the band’s fiftieth anniversary since its creation in 1961.
The second thing to get my traditional New Orleans music juices going was a review in Offbeat of Dr. Michael White’s upcoming album, “Adventures in New Orleans Jazz, Part 2.” I know, I know, I made fun of the title of last year’s installment and putting another number behind it doesn’t make it any better. However, I loved the concept and execution of the first one and this sounds even better. While the first had a decidedly international flavor, White brings it back home this time around. It includes some original music, chestnuts like “Tiger Rag,” and some unlikely covers of Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobbie McGee” and the Turtles’ “Happy Together.” In two words: “it’s fun.” Basin Street Records provides some musical snippets online prior to its release later this month.
And finally, in an escape from more traditional New Orleans musical fare, Rolling Stone helps celebrate Louisiana’s bicentennial with an 18 song collection of funk, soul, hip hop and more. From Irma Thomas to Lucinda Williams; Lee Dorsey to L’il Wayne, it is an eclectic reminder of the musical richness of our 18th state. You can read about each tune and artist and thanks to Spotify, you can listen along as well. Chances are, you’ll encounter something new. And if you are an old hand, it should serve as a happy reminder of what we miss by being anywhere else than the Crescent City!